House Sparrows are permanent Decorah residents that can be seen and heard at our nests year-round. They are ground foragers that eat mostly grains and seeds, including corn, oats, wheat, sorghum, ragweed, crabgrass, buckwheat, millet, milo, and sunflower seeds. They supplement their diet with insects during the summer and feed insects to nestlings.
House sparrows nest in cavities, including the interlaced sticks of bald eagle nests. Male and female sparrows stuff the cavity with coarse dried vegetation, which they line with feathers, string, paper, and dried grasses to create a nest cup. House sparrows lay one to eight eggs per clutch and may produce up to four broods per year. The female incubates eggs for 10-14 days and young stay in the nest for 10-14 days before fledging.
Although House Sparrows are extremely common, they are not native to North America and are not related to other North American sparrows. They are chunkier, fuller in the chest, with a larger, rounded head, shorter tail, and stouter bill than most American sparrows. To learn more, visit Cornell’s website.