Urban House Sparrows find nesting sites in the scrubby cover of untended open ground in cities and in residential gardens according to a new study by The British Trust for Ornithology (http://www.bto.org/).
The BTO concludes that "House Sparrow numbers could be hit by the building of new homes on existing urban gardens" and the development of open spaces. Garden shrubs provide places for house sparrow flocks to congregate and they are attracted by bird boxes and cavities under roof tiles for nesting.
"Garden Grabbing" (building on gardens) will contribute to the decline in House Sparrows. The BTO notes that "last year, the UK Government promised a crackdown on the practice of garden grabbing" which rose from one in 10 to a quarter of new propeties between 1997 and 2008. In response, the BTO calls for "planners to limit development on gardens where sparrows are present as part of the efforts to improve garden habitats, as well as preserving good quality green spaces and brownfield sites".
Householders can help make their gardens Sparrow Friendly by planting cottoneaster and berberis, as well as providing nestboxes with a 32mm (1.25") diameter entrance hole.
If you are concerned about Garden Grabbing and the effect it has on all urban bird and wildlife, write to your local Councillors and your MP as well as supporting the work of the BTO. Thank you!
(BTO Press Release, "Sparrows hit by Garden Grabbing", 31 August 2011.