One of the key reasons why tree sparrows have lost so much ground, their population crashing so badly over the past decades, is that they are such shy, cautious little birds. Unlike the house sparrows, which have evolved to live amidst the clamour and clatter of human beings, their cousins the slightly smaller tree sparrows have found themselves increasingly with less space and fewer resources. With a small colony of breeding tree sparrows at Sun Rising, earlier this year we began a determined effort to help.
Because they are nervous creatures, we knew it would take them a while to trust the new feeders and nestboxes. While we have been watching their progress from afar, COVID-19 lockdown has meant the professionals haven’t had a chance to monitor them properly. That is now gradually changing, and this week Mike from the Banbury Ornithological Society was able to confirm that there are breeding pairs on site. The picture here shows one of the little sparrows at a new field feeder filled will red millet, the tree sparrows’ preferred grain. They can also be seen flying in and around the wildflower meadow, catching insects for their chicks.
Thanks again to all of you who have donated towards the costs of the project, and let’s hope they find increasing confidence at Sun Rising, and their numbers steadily grow. This means, of course, that visitors should stay well away from feeders and nestboxes – you can safely watch at a distance, but please do not get close! For more information, have a look at the project webpage.