House sparrows

House sparrows

The house sparrow (Latin name: Passer domesticus) was the best known bird in the Netherlands for a long period of time.

Unfortunately, its population has decreased enormously. In urban areas, house sparrow populations have declined by a whopping 50-80% since the second half of the 1990s, and the species has been on the Red List of Dutch breeding birds since 2004. Help us to bring the house sparrow back to Amsterdam South!

House sparrows have the same habitats as humans. Like swifts, they breed in human-made structures: they build globular nests made of dried vegetation under roofs and in the cracks and crevices of buildings. If they are happy, they will stay in the same place for many years. Over the past years, the number of breeding sparrow pairs has dropped alarmingly in all large cities. We don’t know the exact reasons: is it due to a lack of insects? Too little nesting or sleeping opportunities? New homes without holes or crevices? Or are we simply too neat?

What can you do to help the sparrow?
What can you do to bring the sparrow back into your neighbourhood?

Here are a few tips:

  • You can attract birds to your garden or balcony by choosing plants that will provide insects and seeds the whole year round. Keep cats away. If you have a cat, give it a bell so that the sparrow will be forewarned.
  • You can also offer shelter to sparrows by placing special pots or nest boxes against your house or along your fencing. These sparrow shelters are available in garden centres, pet shops, and from the Bird Protection store (Vogelbescherming). Sparrows are social and build their nests in groups, so place at least two or three pots around one meter apart. You can also make your own nest boxes.
  • You can help to count sparrows as well as to track their breeding and shelter places. If you know of a colony, let us know so we can make sure it gets on to Amsterdam’s map.

Links for further inspiration
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds