Know your Sparrows!

Posted by Alice Brown in Latest Cheeps on June 11, 2013

This blog is brought to you by the fabulous Alice Brown, who just so happened to get a 2:1 in her English and Creative Writing degree this month. Well done, little chick!

To the ‘twitchers’ among you, that’s bird watching to those of you not in the know, the difference between a Sparrow and a Cheeky Sparrow is obvious. However, if you don’t spend your spare time in ‘hides’ or lurking around woodland you might think that Sparrows and Cheeky Sparrows are one and the same thing.

If you’ve been thinking about taking up ornithology, the posh word for ‘twitching’, then here are a few differences between the two Sparrow species to start you off.

Plumage
The most common type of Sparrow is the ‘True’ or ‘Old World’ Sparrow. Also known as ‘House Sparrows’ to the general public these birds are small, plump, and a brown/grey colour.

Cheeky Sparrows on the other hand have a far more diverse range of colours. Their feathers are everything from a sandy blonde colour to a rich red. Cheeky Sparrows also like to adorn themselves with foreign objects such as false eyelashes and brightly coloured scarves, presumably to attract a mate during breeding season!

Food
Sparrows are primarily seed eaters, although they will eat small insects and when populating a city will eat generally anything in small quantities.

Cheeky Sparrows have a similarly unfussy attitude towards their food, however a top tip if you’re looking to attract them in large numbers is M&S sarnies and Percy Pigs. Throw in some sausage rolls and you’ll have more Cheeky Sparrows than you’ll know what to do with!

Habitat
Sparrows are commonly found in open areas including grasslands, deserts and scrublands. However they also find it easy to settle in more populated areas including some of the most heavily populated parts of South America.

Cheeky Sparrows also like a range of habitats to choose from. For example they’ve been spotted both in rural areas such as the Cotswolds and in the more urban environment of towns like Southampton.

Behaviour
A chirpy, social bird Sparrows are often seen in loose colonies and flocks. Sparrows’ social behaviour includes dust bathing and they’ve also been known to bathe in shallow water and dry or melting snow. Bathing is often done in groups and is usually followed by preening and group singing.

Although Cheek Sparrows are also a chirpy, social species they prefer to bathe alone. However they have been viewed participating in group preening, especially when there’s a camera nearby!

Migration
Most Sparrows do not move more than a few kilometres, preferring to stay with their family and social groups. However some birds will disperse long distances and the mountain species tend to move to lower altitudes in the winter.

Cheeky Sparrows on the other hand love to travel, especially if they get the chance to migrate to warmer climes in the winter. Top places to spot a Cheeky Sparrow during migration season are Sharm-el Sheik, Croatia and Ibiza.

So there you have it, a few top tips to help you tell the common Sparrow from the Cheeky Sparrow. Just remember, if you’re trying to attract the latter breed in large numbers you’ll need to stop by M&S!


Cheeky Sparrows

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