Thursday, 27 November 2014

Day 26 - Suprising Sparrows

Day 26

I'm really enjoying my blogging as I'm learning so much. For instance there's a lot more to a sparrow than I thought. I get quite a lot in my garden, the first picture is one on my hedge by our bird table. They hop in and out of this hedge to the table all day having a really good feed! 
Male House Sparrow  (Passer Domesticus)

I wasn't expecting then to find out that they were the most common bird in Britain but their numbers are dropping at worrying levels and they now have RED status. Some areas have lost between 75 and 99% of their sparrow population. 

No one really knows the reason why. Some reasons that are suggested are  a decline in natural food sources and natural habitats, changes to building design, unleaded petrol having an effect on insects or an increased predation by cats. 

If numbers continue to fall they could reach crisis point and actually "lose the will to breed" which is called the "Allee Effect". 

Happily there are still 5.1 million breeding pairs in the UK. 

In Victorian times they used to shoot them and had clubs to see who could shoot the most. The more I read it seems there some Victorians who weren't very nice to nature :-( (see Fantastic Finches post) but happily Darwin and other Victorian scientists were very important and helpful.

Sparrows generally lay 2-3 clutches of eggs a year and sometimes the clutches can have eggs that are from different fathers! 

Pinching my crisp crumbs!
They are sociable little birds and like to be around people. 

They like to nest in colonies, in crevices in buildings or creepers - will evict other birds from their nests given the chance and would happily nest in a nest box if they find one they like! 

Sparrow nests are quite untidy and lined with bits of straw, string and paper - whatever they can find. 

Like a lot of the birds I've featured they don't tend to stray far from where they were hatched and raised.

Males have brown stripes and a black bib and the size of the bib shows how dominant he is - bigger the bib more dominant the sparrow! Females are paler without the stripes and juveniles are the same as their mums. 

House sparrows are often confused for their cousin the Tree Sparrow - more on them another day!

They eat seeds, insects and scraps and like to forage around under the bird table. 

The earliest record of a house sparrow is from the last glacial period as far as 10-120,000  years ago -as fossils were found. 

We have a colony of sparrows that live in and around our garden and regularly see up to 20 or so on the bird table and around it at any one time. We love watching the baby sparrows on the bird table - they are adorable - they shake their tiny wings and open their mouths and cheep until their mum or dad pops a seed in their mouth! 
Female coming in to land!

House sparrows are taken for granted a bit I think because they're maybe not so exciting and colourful as some garden visitors but it's such a shame that they have red status and are threatened because we would miss them so much if they weren't in our garden! 

In case you want more facts about these lovely little birds, here's a few links:

I hope you enjoyed this post.


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