Sparrows live all over the U.S. in large numbers. In fact, the U.S. is home to over thirty species of sparrow.
To attract sparrows, build them a safe environment. Food like grains, seeds, and insects are important, as well as clean water, even in the winter. Sparrows also like using bird houses and using native plants for nesting and roosting.
Since most sparrow species have similar habits and needs, you can apply this guide to attract sparrows of all kinds. Read on to learn 11 helpful hints for attracting sparrows to your yard.
11 Tips To Attract Sparrows To Your Yard
1. Place Multiple Feeders
Offering food is one of the easiest and most effective ways to attract sparrows to your yard. But you have to make sure that you provide enough food and in easy-to-access areas.
By hanging more than one feeder, you’re ensuring that your sparrows have enough food, even when other birds are around. They can take their pick at a feeder that’s less crowded.
Sparrows also like foraging for food in low places. In addition to a traditional hanging feeder, try a shallow dish on the ground.
2. Use Food Sparrows Love
Many sparrow species are granivorous. In other words, their diets consist mostly of nuts, seeds, and grain.
Sunflower seeds are a great option for attracting sparrows. Traditional bird seed mixes with cracked corn and millet are good as well and easy to find.
Some sparrows also need insects as a main part of their diet. Instead of spraying harmful pesticides or otherwise deterring insects, let them be. You’ll attract more sparrows looking for bugs, and they’ll take care of the problem for you.
Sparrows also eat fruit occasionally; berry bushes are a great addition to a backyard you want to fill with sparrows.
3. Set Up A Bird Bath
Sparrows find easy-access water just as attractive as easy food. Setting up a bird bath gives them a safe place to drink and bathe.
The most common bird bath is the traditional pedestal, but sparrows like to be low to the ground. Install a ground bird bath instead, usually a shallow basin.
Baths with fountain attachments or agitators will also attract sparrows. Moving water is more eye-catching to them than a still pond or bowl.
If you live in a snowy area, make sure to get a ground bath with a heater.
4. Use Heated Bird Baths In The Winter
There’s hardly a place in the United States that doesn’t see sparrows for at least one part of the year. This includes colder areas that might get a lot of snow.
While not all sparrows are migratory, they still look for warm places to roost during the winter. If your bird bath is full of freezing water, they’re less likely to come to your yard.
But if you have a heated bird bath, sparrows will love your yard. A heating element also makes the bird bath easier to maintain. You don’t have to spend as much time clearing out ice.
5. Provide Loose Soil For “Dust Baths”
Water is important for bathing, but it’s not the only way sparrows keep themselves clean.
Many species practice “dust bathing.” This is when they rustle around in dirt and dust to maintain their feathers.
Sparrows have a uropygial or preening gland that secretes oil for their feathers, similar to our own skin oil glands. Just like us, it’s important for sparrows to maintain the right levels of oil for the healthiest feathers.
So, they’ll roll around in the dust to get rid of any excess oil. Experts believe dust baths may also prevent them from contracting parasites from dirty water.
If you want to attract more sparrows, keep a small section of loose dirt in your yard. Placing it near a bird bath will ensure they can reach it after they bathe in the water.
6. Plant A Lot Of Bushes And Tall Grasses
Sparrows are very small birds that don’t have much defense against larger predators. So, they naturally prefer roosting in areas that provide a lot of cover.
Unlike many other birds, though, they like to stay on the ground rather than in trees. Sparrows will think your yard is a safe haven if there are plenty of bushes in which they can hide. You can also plant tall grasses that can provide both cover and food.
7. Set Up Bird Houses
Many sparrows build loose cup nests, either deep in bushes or on the ground, hidden in the grass. Some are also cavity nesters, building their nests inside tree trunks or other holes.
This makes bird houses attractive to sparrows. Put a couple in your yard along with some loose nesting material to draw in more sparrows.
If you want to provide housing for other sparrows, use a smaller entrance hole. This may help deter house sparrows, since they won’t fit inside, but can still attract others such as chipping sparrows.
8. Make A Brush Pile
Another way to attract nesting sparrows is to provide nesting materials. Instead of trashing your lawn clippings and pruning remains, leave them in a small pile.
Then, sparrows will have easy access to good nesting materials. It doesn’t have to be a large pile; just enough to give them options. And you can clean it up once the nesting season is over.
9. Keep Other Animals Out Of The Yard
Both domestic and feral cats pose great danger to wild sparrows. One cat is capable of killing up to 100 birds in a single year.
They can devastate local bird populations. So, keep your pets out of the yard, and don’t let feral cats wander around.
Dogs should also be kept out of the yard, or at least be under supervision. That way you can make sure they don’t chase your sparrows away.
Snakes and even raccoons will go after sparrow eggs. Keep your yard secure and don’t leave out any trash or food.
10. Bird-Proof Your Windows
Another danger to sparrows you might not expect is your windows. Clear windows can reflect the sky and horizon, which may draw sparrows into flying into the glass.
This can lead to injury or even death, and this may deter sparrows from visiting. To prevent this, keep your windows covered with curtains or frosted decals.
You should also avoid placing your feeders, waters, and bird houses near windows.
11. Fill Your Yard With Native Plants
Artificial feeders are a really great supplement to a sparrow’s normal foraging. But having natural food in the form of fruiting bushes or grasses with seeds is the ideal environment for sparrows.
When thinking about which plants to include in your yard, consider those that are native to your area. Many birds will naturally gravitate towards plants they recognize rather than something “exotic.”
In addition, encouraging native growth is good for your local environment in general. Exotic plants – even those from a different area of the same country – can have negative consequences.
They can choke out the native plant life, or bring disease and infestations that the local plants can’t fight against.
When Is The Best Time To Attract Sparrows?
Since there are an incredible number of sparrow species in the U.S., we can’t list them all here.
Instead, below is a chart showing three species that are some of the most widespread and frequent backyard visitors.
|Area||Time of Year||Migrating/Breeding/Resident||Common Species|
|West Coast to Midwest, Northern Midwest to Northeast||Year-round||Resident||Song sparrow|
|Midwest through the South||September-March||Non-breeding||Song sparrow|
|Nationwide||Late April-July||Breeding||Chipping sparrow|
|Northern Midwest to Northeast||September, April||Migration||White-crowned sparrow|
|West Coast to inland East Coast||September-March||Non-breeding||White-crowned sparrow|
*We have not included house sparrows in this chart even though they’re the most populous species in the United States. They are an invasive species that few people want to attract, since they can harm native populations.
Sparrows are one of the most abundant backyard birds in North America. You can attract them with ease by using the handy tips in this guide.