Latin name: Passer montanus
The tree sparrow is a small buff, brown bird and very similar to the house sparrow. The male and female of this species are almost identical.
Tree sparrows are quieter than house sparrows, but also very sociable. In comparison to the house sparrow tree sparrows are thinner and smaller. They have a brown crown and white cheeks with a black spot.
The European population is estimated to be about 26 million breeding pairs; with 5000 pairs counted in Northern Ireland.
Up to 13 or 14cm, and weighing about 20 to 24g.
Between 1970 and 1999 the population decline in the whole UK was about 95%. In 1950 it was recognized that the species could be heading for extinction, and work was undertaken restore numbers.
Usually found near mixed farmlands, waterbodies and waterways. The mixed farmlands are very important for providing several kinds of seeds and grains. In Northern Ireland important sites for tree sparrows are Lough Neagh, Lough Beg and Portmore Lough.
They like to nest in holes, ruins, buildings or sand martin’s burrows. The material for the nest consists of grasses and other similar vegetation. The breeding season is between April and August and two or three broods are possible per year. During each brood 2 up to 7 eggs are laid.
The main parts of the diet are seeds and cereals such as barely and wheat. Weed seeds also play an important role, as do fruits and buds. For the chicks insects are important from to provide minerals for their development of their bones and beaks.