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Where I see the most house sparrows

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 27 Feb 2011 at 03:06 PM

As I visit quite a lot of gardens, I’ve been paying attention to how they differ and what type of garden attracts house sparrows, which are declining in number in the UK. Most of the neat and carefully tended gardens attract birds, such as blackbirds, bluetits and chaffinches, but it is those gardens where the shrubs are tall and close together where I see the highest number of house sparrows (Passer domesticus).

They seem to go for dense growth, like hawthorn hedgerows, or thickets such as you get with rambling roses or Wisteria, where they can sit a few inches down, in amongst the higher growth. From that vantage, they can look out and shout to their heart’s content, without worrying about cats or sparrow hawks. Walls and arches with thick masses of stems and leaves growing over them are ideal. Away from domestic gardens, bramble thickets are also popular. There is a big bramble thicket in a field near here which is always full of sparrow song and you can see the birds distributed throughout the canopy, especially the males with their black ‘bibs’. The paler females blend in more with the plant stems and don’t show up as clearly.


Just looking around my garden at home, it would be easy to believe that there were no sparrows left out there at all. We do have mature shrubs, but they’re quite far apart and the neighbouring gardens are a little empty. Yet, on the other side of the green to where we live, there are lots of sparrows. The gardens there have more shrubs and there are also a couple of lanes with uncut hedgerows growing alongside them. Standing in some of those gardens is like being in a woodland clearing and the sound of bird song is noticeably louder than on our side of the green, even though it’s only about 100m (approx 300 feet) away.

The sparrows love the tall hedgerow outside this garden.


As the garden at home is relatively new to us, and the people who previously tended it took a lot of plants with them when they left, I don’t feel negligent, but I do intend to plant more sparrow-friendly shrubs. In this blog, the researcher recommends native deciduous trees and shrubs, adding that ornamental and evergreens tend to be avoided. Time to visit the nursery!


 How to help house sparrows


asj said:

Thanks Miranda - I'll bear that in mind when visiting the GC to fill my gaps!

on 27 Feb 2011 at 04:11 PM

pushkin said:

How interesting, I'm still struggling to define who is who among the variety of "sparrows" coming to the feeders.

If those photographs, especially the first, come from your garden then you've found a paradise.  Stunningly beautiful.

on 27 Feb 2011 at 04:27 PM

richardpeeej said:

We used to have a lot of sparrows in our garden in Wales Miranda. They were the main birds that would be there and nothing much else. Here in Leicestershire there are not as many.I was very Interested to read this article.


on 27 Feb 2011 at 05:37 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Thanks, all!

pushkin, that first picture was taken at Hall Farm nursery and garden( I went there a few times when I was studying up that way and it's a lovely place. The second pic is a garden nearby. It's a bit different now, but a lovely spot and always full of birds.

Richard - maybe you could slack off on the pruning. That might bring the sparrows in :-)

on 27 Feb 2011 at 06:42 PM