It’s hard to believe that the glorious sight and sound of House Sparrows
in your garden could soon be a thing of the past. Despite still being one of our most common and popular garden visitors, Sparrow numbers are plummeting – down 68% in the last 3 decades, a new RSPB study has found.
The alarming report has also found that cockney Sparrows are now virtually non-existent and have almost totally vanished from London. In fact Sparrows are fast disappearing from other cities too including Bristol, Edinburgh and Dublin.
It’s believed that the decline has been caused by modern trends in garden design; the paving of front gardens, popularity of decking and increased urban redevelopment.
Sparrows rely heavily on insects to feed their young and an increasing lack of garden greenery means that there are less to go around; the chicks are literally starving to death in their nests.
Acting now by making small changes to your garden could make a huge difference to the decline of the House Sparrow.
Here’s what you can do to help:
Be a lazy gardener!
By allowing your garden to become a bit scruffier, there will be more insects for the Sparrows to gobble up. Setting aside a patch of garden to go ‘wild’ will really help.
Stop using pesticides on your lawn
Many lawn treatments contain pesticides to kill off Leatherjackets; these are the larvae of the Crane fly (Daddy Long Legs) and are the main source of food for hungry Sparrow chicks in the summer.
Provide nest boxes
Now is the time to put up your nest boxes ready for spring. Sparrows are sociable birds and will benefit from specially designed ‘colony’ nest boxes.
Ban Leylandii and bring back Honeysuckle
Native shrubs and climbers such as Honeysuckle, Wild Rose and Hawthorn are a haven for spiders, beetles and other creepy crawlies, all vital food for Sparrow chicks. Foreign invaders such as Leylandii provide little or no insect life at all.
Shake your table cloth!
One theory suggests that an important source of food for adult Sparrows was from shaken table cloths outside the back door! With the use of table cloths declining, this food source has dried up. Shake your metaphorical table cloth by regularly putting out crumbs and other kitchen scraps.
Scatter high energy food now on lawns and tables
Like all small birds, Sparrows need large amounts of energy to survive the cold winter days and nights. Providing fat and oil rich food such as Ultiva® Finest Blend will give adults a much needed, instant energy boost. Ultiva® Finest Blend is one of the best foods to feed Sparrows as it contains suet pellets and sunflower hearts, foods high in energy.
Provide live mealworms in the spring and summer
With insects in short supply, give Sparrow chicks the protein they need by supplementing their diet with live mealworms. These energy and protein rich wrigglers are a firm favourite with many of your garden visitors, including Robins and Blackbirds.
Make fresh water available at all times
Vital for all garden birds, ensure that there is always fresh water available, especially during freezing weather.
Taking action now could help reverse this alarming trend and ensure that these chirpy, cheeky, garden favourites are enjoyed by generations to come.