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Tree sparrow

All about tree sparrows

The tree sparrow was once widespread in the  United Kingdom, but it has been reduced to scattered populations, mainly confined to England, because of changes in land management. It is slightly smaller than the more familiar house sparrow, is less bold and is less likely to live near people.

What to look for

The tree sparrow is up to 14cm long. Both sexes are similar with a chestnut brown head and nape and white cheeks and collar, with a contrasting black cheek-spot. The under parts are off-white.

Did you know?

  • The tree sparrow feeds mainly on seeds from grasses, cereals and small wild plants. It also eats aphids, caterpillars, weevils and beetles, mostly found in the trees.
  • Tree sparrows typically nest in holes in trees and buildings where the house sparrow is absent. Both sexes build the nest and will re-use sites year after year. The female lays 4-6 eggs and both sexes incubate them for up to 14 days. The young will fly 15-18 days after hatching. The tree sparrow can produce 2-3 broods a year.
  • The call of the tree sparrow is a distinctive high-pitched “chip” and its song is a simple repeated variation of its call.
  • The intensification of agriculture has affected the availability of all three of the key resources for tree sparrows: seed food, invertebrate food and suitable nest-sites. The switch from spring-sown to autumn-sown cereals, increased use and  effectiveness of herbicides and fertilizers and stringent grain storage regulations are all likely to have reduced the availability of grain and weed seeds to birds on farmland. Combined with the loss of wetlands rich in insect life, this resulted in the UK tree sparrow population suffering a severe decline,

Photo gallery

Tree Sparrow Notts WT (cpt Andrew Parsons) Tree Sparrow Notts WT (cpt Andrew Parsons) Tree Sparrow Notts WT (cpt Andrew Parsons) Tree Sparrow  Notts WT (cpt Richard Rogers) Tree Sparrow Notts WT (cpt Vanda Malvig) Tree Sparrow Notts WT (cpt Jarmo Viippola) Tree Sparrow Notts WT (cpt Phil Palmer) Tree Sparrow Notts WT (cpt Mike Vickers) Tree Sparrow Notts WT (cpt Richard Rogers) Tree Sparrow NottsWT (cpt Richard Rogers) Tree Sparrow NottsWT (cpt Mike Vickers) Tree Sparrow NottsWT (cpt John Smith) Tree Sparrow NottsWT (cpt John Smith) Tree Sparrow NottsWT (cpt John Smith)

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Tree sparrow Printable Factsheet

Status

Loss of food resources and nesting sites p[roduced an estimated fall in the tree sparrow population of 93 per cent between 1970 and 2008. However, recent Breeding Bird Survey data is encouraging, suggesting that numbers may have started to increase since then.
 

Habitats

Tree sparrowsnest and live in open woodland, hedgerows, parks, orchards and quarries. They tend to remain in one area, except when their young disperse after leaving the nest.
 

Where to see

Tree sparrows are social and often can be seen in groups in the countryside, foraging for food in the trees and on the ground.

 

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