You may be surprised to hear that the humble sparrow earned a whole day of recognition last week with Sunday being World Sparrow Day.
World Sparrow Day celebrates the common sparrow, found across Asia, Europe and Africa. By celebrating the sparrow as the champion of the ‘ordinary’, the day aimed to increase awareness of all species that are often overlooked.
In Birmingham, the sparrow you are most likely to see is the house sparrow. These chirpy birds like to nest in the comfort of houses and other buildings. They have adapted well to living around humans, taking advantage of man’s wasteful nature, by scavenging food wherever possible.
During the early 1970s, there were 12 million house sparrows in the UK. Sadly, this once common visitor’s population has plummeted by 65 per cent. House sparrows are now at home on the red list of species of high conservation concern.
There are things we can do on World Sparrow Day that will help celebrate the day, but also help bring these birds back from decline. Putting a seed feeder and water bowl out in the garden will attract house sparrows. By regularly topping up feeders, this could increase house sparrow numbers in your area.
One of the main problems for house sparrows is finding a building with a hole or loose tile that can be exploited for nest building. With a few well-placed nestboxes, a desolate garden can become a cheeping hive of activity.
Make a picnic with food for you and the sparrows and go on a sparrow safari. Sprinkle grain near hedges and thickets and sit a small distance away. Whilst you enjoy your picnic, you can watch the sparrows and other small birds enjoy theirs.
Set your sights even higher and try to influence events around you. Organise an awareness campaign with a simple poster in a well-placed location, such as a community notice board. Write to local councils requesting activities such as intensive landscaping and removal of hedges in parks is kept to a minimum. This will not only benefit house sparrows, but other small birds too.