Tree sparrow - Passer montanus - Family: Fringillidae/ Passeridae
Tree sparrow - Passer montanus© Robin Chittenden www.harlequinpictures.co.uk
This close relative of the house sparrow is a small bird with a bright chestnut-brown cap, which contrasts with the white collar and a small black spot just behind the eye.
Tree sparrows have suffered an enormous decline in the last 30 years and in many parts of the country have moved from being quite common to the point where they are scarcely ever seen at all. Numbers decreased by a staggering 87% between 1972 and 1996 and the latest figures suggest that they are still falling.
It is a bird associated closely with farmland and this has almost certainly been part of its undoing. Farmland birds have suffered more than any other group from agricultural intensification and the resulting decline in both insect and seed food for species like the tree sparrow. However, its numbers are known to have been subject to fairly dramatic ups and downs in the past and the population may be capable of recovering quickly given the opportunity to do so.
Where tree sparrows still occur, they will come readily enough into gardens and will feed from bird tables. They normally nest in holes, often in wall crevice or an old tree.
Natural sources include insects during breeding season with seeds and grain during autumn and winter, may also visit feeding stations, especially for peanuts. Predator of bugs, woodlice, millipedes and centipedes, spiders and harvestmen.
Midland hawthorn, Pedunculate oak, Sessile oak
Bugs, Spiders and harvestmen, Woodlice/Millipedes/Centipedes