Beak of the Week: House Sparrow

In honor of World Sparrow Day 2012, we bring you the House Sparrow!

A male House Sparrow enjoying a wiggly snack!

Common Name: House Sparrow

Latin Name:  Passer domesticus

Range: Found year-round throughout the Southeast and southern Midwest regions of the United States, as well as areas of Mexico and parts of Central America. Summer range is in the Northeast and north Midwest of the United States and Eastern parts of Canada.

Habitat:  House Sparrows are found in most places – from city streets and parks, to trees and feeders. The only places where House Sparrows are rarely found are in undisturbed woodlands, forests, deserts and grasslands.

Diet:  In urban areas, the House Sparrow feeds largely on food provided directly or indirectly by humans.  Seeds and plant matter, including berries, and fruits make up a great portion of the bird’s food intake. Bugs are also part of a House Sparrow’s diet! In fact, in order to get their necessary protein, young House Sparrows are fed mostly on insects, such as worms, crickets, flies, caterpillars and grasshoppers, until about fifteen days after hatching.

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

A Male House Sparrow Enjoying Mealworms From A Pacific Bird Mealworm Feeder

Feeding Tip: Attracting sparrows to your backyard is easier than you might think. First, start by creating an inviting bird habitat. This includes providing survival materials, such as food, water, a nesting place and protection from predators.  For example, bird feeders filled with safflower seeds, millet, worms, insects, fruit pieces, berries and nutmeats will attract a reasonable number of sparrows to your home. Take notice! Sparrows will feed on insects, seeds and nutmeats year-round, and during warmer months, they will seek out a greater number of insects in order to provide protein and nourishment to their young.  A clean water source will also aid in your quest to attract sparrows.

Splish splash, I was taking a bath…

As always, please remember to place food and water away from any overhanging trees so that squirrels will not compete with birds for food. And, do your best to keep pet cats indoors and away from sparrow nesting spots. Doing so will make your home much more appealing to these beautiful birds. Sparrows love to ground feed, and if they don’t perceive any great threats,  they will be feasting before your eyes and as happy as ever!

5 Interesting Facts About The House Sparrow:

  • When introduced, the House Sparrow spread quickly, sometimes at the rate of over 140 miles per year.
  • The ancient Greeks associated sparrows with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, on account their perceived lustfulness.
  • Sparrow fledgelings usually fly after 15 days.
House Sparrow Eggs
  • Even though they are not water birds, sparrows can actually swim in order to escape predators (I had no idea!).
  • Sparrows are now on the threatened birds’ list in many parts of the world… To learn more about the declining number of sparrows, read about World Sparrow Day.
Happy World Sparrow Day & Happy Birding!
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