Is there a more commonly seen garden bird that the house sparrow? With 5.3 million pairs of house sparrows in the UK alone, their tawny-brown backs, grey fronts and black finch-like beaks are an incredibly familiar sight on our bird feeders and in our hedges. However, it is only the male that sports this black mask, with females having a much plainer brown colouring.
House sparrows are very social birds and can often be heard deep in the hedgerows singing their unforgettable ‘squawk’ cry. This single-note sound can sometimes be incessant, especially as flocks can swell to large numbers.
These noisy birds like to take dust baths in the summer to protect their feathers. House sparrows use their wings and body weight to make a small impression in the dusty soil or sand, then flap vigorously until their bodies are covered. This ‘dusting’ absorbs any excess oil on the feathers, preventing them from becoming matted or greasy.