While writing this month’s newsletter I am started to see several of our native sparrows appear in my backyard. The heavily striped Song Sparrow. The bold black and white stripes on the head of a White Crowned Sparrow. The yellow lores on a White Throated Sparrow. Other native sparrows I expect to see in my yard this spring are the Harris’ Sparrow and American Tree Sparrow. North America has many beautiful native sparrows and in the Great Plains we are blessed with many grassland sparrow species as well. Don’t confuse the species name sparrow with that of the House (English) Sparrow. The House Sparrow is not a true sparrow but a Weaver Finch that was introduced from Europe in the mid 1800’s and has become a menace to many of our native bird species. The House Sparrow is non-native thus it is not federally protected. When I see a little brown bird foraging on the ground in my yard it is not the bird itself I notice first but its actions. If they are scratching the ground with their feet, hopping, and hastily moving about it tells me it is a true sparrow and needs more investigation to identify what kind. House Sparrows on the other hand do not scratch the ground with their feet to turn up seeds but sweep with their bill instead. Keep an eye out for native sparrows arriving to nest or passing through during migration.
Ground Feeders for Attracting Native Sparrows
Ground feeders with safflower seed and white Proso millet are excellent for attracting native sparrows who feed primarily on the ground. In fact ground feeders work well for attracting many ground foraging birds. Even a hand full of Proso millet scattered on the ground in the same manner that one would feed free roaming chickens can produce some exciting results.
Note: Ground feeders are excellent for using general wild bird mixes. However, if squirrels are present it is best to use safflower seed, or Nutra-Saff safflower seed with a little white Proso millet mixed in.