The house Sparrows that visit my small suburban garden appear to be doing very well again this year, with plenty of juvenile birds chasing their parents around the garden begging for food.
The highest number I have counted at any one time was twenty seven, but it's difficult to get an accurate count with all the coming and going.
I was surprised to read that the House Sparrow are one of those birds that's mates for life and rarely moves more than a few hundred yards from where they was born. So I guess it's important that there's a good food and water supply in the area in which it ranges.
It got me wondering how the House Sparrow population generally was doing after its dramatic decline in the last few decades, it appears that numbers are slowly increasing, but this recovery is described as 'fragile and needing support' especially in urban areas.
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has produced a free factsheet. in which it outlines the needs required to provide this support.
I wondered how my garden fared with these needs, good in some of the requirements bad in others.
"The House Sparrow requires favorable feeding conditions, these have been reduced by paving for off-street parking, building on gardens and the use of decking,"
I must admit I do have Off street parking at the front of the house, but I feel I have more than made up for this by having a higher proportion of deciduous shrubs and a smaller proportion of concrete in my rear garden, feeding also supplemented with plenty of bird feeders.
"House Sparrows need thick cover to escape from predators, roost and socialise. Hawthorn, ivy, bramble and wild roses can provide such cover."
I have Plenty of cover in the form of Ivy and other garden shrubs,And I know for a fact that a good number are roosting in one particular Ivy covered shrub, so not too bad on that account.
"Nest sites have also been lost, with many people now opting for plastic fascias and soffits instead of wooden ones, which would have gradually rotted, creating nesting holes. Modern roof tiles differ in their design from traditional ones, again reducing nesting opportunities."
Oh dear, I do have UPVC fascias and soffits all around the house with a fairly newly tiled roof, so no nesting opportunities here I'm afraid. but some nesting activity going on close by maybe.
"Increased levels of cat predation and competition for food with species such as Collared Dove and Woodpigeon might also be causing problems."
Once again Guilty of owning a cat albeit a very old cat, whose bird catching days are probably numbered.
The occasional Woodpigeon and Collared Dove usually feed on the small amount of spillage from the House Sparrow feeders so no real problem there.
All in all not too bad. food, water, provision for cover, roosting and rest all provided just falling down really on nesting availability, something to think about maybe for the future.