Tree Sparrows

Spotting a Tree Sparrow

The male and female tree sparrows look the same, with brown crowns and backs, a pale belly and white cheeks with black spots. You’re most likely to spot one if you live in the Midlands and southern and eastern England. In the south west, Wales and the north west there are no tree sparrows.

They can be found in the countryside, in hedgerows and on the edges of woodlands – you won’t spot them in urban areas which they avoid. The UK population has fallen by 93% since 1970 and they are now endangered. There is good news though because since 2008 there has been a small increase in their numbers.


They’re social birds living in loose colonies and you may spot small flocks during the breeding season. In the winter they often flock together with finches and house sparrows.

Their breeding season begins in May and ends in mid-August and tree sparrow male and females mate for life. They like to build their nests in holes in trees using grass and twigs to create a messy nest. During a year they’ll have two or three broods a year and each brood will contain 5 or 6 eggs. They live for around two years.


Their diet consists of seeds, weeds, cereals and insects which they find in fields however the use of chemicals on crops has made it harder for them to find food. This has meant their numbers have declined and they are now in danger of extinction.

Did you know…

There are two types of sparrow in the UK and these are the house sparrow and the tree sparrow. You can tell the difference between the males by looking at their heads. House sparrows have a grey patch on their head and tree sparrows have a brown top,

Feeding Tree Sparrows

They have been spotted feeding from bird tables in countryside gardens but not in urban areas. Leave out small seeds such as red millet.

Nest Boxes

Nest box for garden birds in the UK

They will use a nest box in the countryside. You’ll need a nest box with a small hole (of about 32 mm). If you have several nest boxes close together you may find they are all filled with tree sparrows as these birds live in colonies and like to nest close to each other.

Visit an RSBP Reserve

Visit somewhere with loads of birds! There are hundreds of nature reserves – find one near you on the RSPB website. (Takes you to an external site).