How to Attract Sparrows

House sparrow Passer domesticus

Intro: The sparrow will grace your balcony garden with pleasing short chirps and attractive behaviors. It is a social wild bird often found in large groups together in trees. It will most likely be one of the first wild birds you spot in your balcony garden, as long as you put birdseed out on a flat surface (such as your balcony ledge). They will eat almost any type of birdseed, and they are comfortable feeding with other wild bird species. They are cute little birds that you will enjoy watching. Be aware, though, that these wild birds are an invasive species that can carry disease (see the Miscellaneous Info section for more information).


Scientific Name: Passer domesticus

Size: 6.25 inches

Habitat: Urban areas. Sparrows are often found where there are plenty of people or livestock because they can find food easily in these areas. Sparrows are native to Europe but have been introduced to the United States and many other areas of the world. They are rarely found in wild areas, such as woods and mountains.

How to Attract: Sparrows eat seeds and crumbs from the ground, so offer them food from a feeding dish, put seed on the ledge or floor of your balcony. These birds will not perch on tube feeders. They feed on grain seeds and weeds, but it will eat anything. Sparrows prefer oats and wheat. They will eat insect pests that may negatively affect your container plants, especially aphids. Read more about choosing birdseed.

Courtship and Breeding: Sparrow nests are made out of grasses in a small cavity, often in gaps in buildings. Sparrows like to build nests inside crevices, tree holes or any covered shelter (for a blueprint for making a birdhouse for sparrows, click here). House sparrows often build nests near streetlights because they provide extra warmth to the wild birds. Female sparrows are the dominant sex, even though they are smaller than males. House sparrows are monogomous wild birds, forming pairs for life. They have four or five small eggs that hatch in about two weeks. Most of these birds will die in their first year, and many more will die after, but they have the ability to live for about 20 years in the wild.

Misc. Info: Sparrows are the most widely spread wild bird in the world. Since sparrows were introduced to America for pest control more than 150 years ago, American birds have evolved to different sizes, shapes and feather pigmentation. While some sparrow populations can become quite tame, some even eating pieces of bread out of people’s hands, other populations may be quite shy: they will most likely fly away if you are working on your container plants in your balcony garden. These birds will take over native birds’ nests, so you may want to scare away sparrows if you suspect they may commandeer the nest of another bird nesting nearby. These wild birds are also hosts to many parasites, viruses (including the West Nile virus) and diseases, and they can spread disease to humans and pets.

Additional information