Can You Eat Sparrows?
Is it Even Legal?

As these brightly-colored striped birds with grey heads are super common, they don’t get protection. It is legal to eat them, but there’s more to it!

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David A. Swanson

June 20, 2021

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What’s This Post About?

In United States, sparrows are easy to spot. They are present in large numbers and enjoy in almost every habitat. Each sparrow species is unique based on features, colors, songs, and much more. With their cheery chatter and chirpy tones, they’re pretty hard to miss, especially if they’re in your backyard.

Sparrows are the most widely spread wildlife birds across the globe, found easily on every single continent. So even if you are unaware of it, you probably have been surrounded by these little birds all your life.

Yes, sparrows can be eaten. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act does not protect sparrows because they are very invasive and are generally considered a nuisance species. They are not protected by the law and can be hunted or eaten without any repercussions.

a male sparrow is sitting on a bunch of twigs

Where Can You Find Sparrows?

Sparrows are found throughout Asia, Northern Africa, and Europe. They are an introduced species to South and North America, where they continue to thrive under various climatic and environmental conditions. They’re found in abundance, especially in the northern region.

sparrow sitting on a branch

If you’re on the lookout for one, you should know that they are found in most places where there are houses, buildings, and closely knitted homes. Just visit an urban area, be it a park, a street, or your backyard, and you’ll probably come across a few hopping around on the ground.

If you intend to interact with them or want to look at them up close, then you should carry bird seeds or starchy leftovers with you. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could offer them food right out of your hands.

Are Sparrows Edible?

sparrow is perched on a birdbath

Yes, sparrows are edible, just like any other bird. These birds are found in abundance across the US and are not protected by federal law; therefore, it makes it easier for you to track, hunt, and eat them.

Fun Fact

You can get yourself a grilled sparrow seasoned with soy sauce on the streets of Kyoto, Japan.

Since sparrows are found wherever people are, be that on the street or in someone’s backyard, they are plentiful as well as edible. But one thing that we can’t say for sure is whether they taste just as good as chickens or not.

If you’re in one of your curious cat phases and want to know what sparrows taste like, then you don’t have much to worry about because you’re not alone. Many other people, just like you, find themselves wanting to explore what they taste like.

Some articles over the internet suggest that sparrow meat has a distinct taste and serves as a great delicacy. Others say that it’s too difficult to eat the whole thing as is because it’s too bony with very little meat on it.

Is it Safe to Consume a Sparrow?

Consuming just about any bird is considered safe because the meat on every bird is no different from chicken or a turkey. But one thing that needs to be taken care of is whether these birds are eating clean or not. Most of the sparrows are found dwindling in the trash, looking for food.

sparrow sitting on the ground

Since sparrow’s diet isn’t exactly clean, you cannot go and hunt one down from the streets or your backyard because you wouldn’t know where those birds have been and what things they have been consuming. They could even be disease-ridden!

What you can do is collect and raise a few of them in suitable cages; this way, you can monitor what they eat and give them the proper nutrient to nourish them. However, that is a lot of work just to taste sparrow meat.

How Can You Catch Sparrows?

sparrow sitting on a tree

Sparrows are quite plentiful, and with that said, it’s not that difficult to hunt or catch them, considering how you can find them just about anywhere in your neighborhood. Just make sure you’re using the proper means to go about it.

Since sparrows are not protected by any state laws, the first thing you can do is invest in a safe bird trap. This way, you can trap and hold them without hurting the bird. Place the trap in a shed, barn, or beneath bushes.

If you’re looking for an appropriate bird trap, then you can explore the Bird B Gone Sparrow Trap

Bird B Gone Sparrow Trap

The big capacity can hold a large number of sparrows

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You could make the trap inviting by using the bird’s favorite food. When you use the right bait, it’ll be relatively easier for you to lure the bird in. House sparrows particularly like food, including cracked corn, white millet, milo, and sunflower seeds.

two male sparrows sitting on the ground

Sparrows are common invasive birds that aren’t rare, which is why they’re not protected under The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The reason for this is because there has been a considerable increase in their population over the past years across the United States.

Fun Fact

Hunting, sparrows, and starlings are the only wild birds that are not protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The reason they are not protected by the law is because these birds are abundant and are found across the urban residential spaces. They’re quite a lot in number and frequent a lot of local’s backyards throughout the year.

They’re considered a nuisance because of their untidiness around the urban residential areas, so it’s safe to say that it’s entirely legal to hunt, capture, and eat them.

If you do end up catching them or consuming them, you will not face any repercussions. You have to make sure whatever you do is not inhuman as there are certain ethical standards that you should maintain.

Ways to Identify Sparrows

sparrow sitting on a chord

Sparrows are quite active and jumpy in their manner, making it easier for bird watchers to tell them apart from other birds, but they can also be easily mistaken for native birds. So to avoid that from happening, you can find and identify a field mark left by them.

Though their field markings are not visible, most of them still have at least one strong, easily identifiable field mark which stands out from other bird species.

Another thing to look out for is their plumage. Male sparrows have a vividly colored plumage, grey head, white cheeks, and a dribble of black running down from their chin, forming a bib around the neck. They are usually dull and sandy, especially female sparrows.

House sparrows are inherently noisy and can mostly be seen fluttering down from high fences or walls. Another thing that’s quite noticeable about these birds is how they fly in and out of their nest holes hidden away behind traffic lights, signboards, vents, and even the hollow spaces in the walls.

Look for them on city streets and parks hopping about aggressively pecking and munching on the food remains left behind by people. Sparrows choose to stay near human communities because they can always find food.

To spot one in your backyard, you’ll need to keep a close eye on how this bird behaves around other backyard birds. It swarms the feeders and robs other birds of the opportunity to feed on the seeds, which can be a little annoying considering that they’re very noisy and chirpy.

Different Ways You Can Attract Sparrows

male sparrow drinking water out of a pipe

Having sparrows around is not a bad thing at times. Their melodious and high-pitched chirps will grace your backyard or balconies with pleasing bird sounds throughout the day. If you relish their songs, you might want to attract them to your backyard.

Sparrows aren’t shy or elusive like other backyard birds. They love following humans around because that’s how they get their food. You don’t even have to put in half the effort to attract them to your backyard.

They are found nearly everywhere, and people usually want to get rid of them because of how noisy they might get when it’s time to feed them. This often draws the sounds and songs of other birds. To invite them to your backyard, all you need to do is offer them their favorite treats.

You could even offer them popcorns as an occasional treat but avoid giving them microwaved popcorn as the salt present in packaged popcorn can be harmful to birds. If you want to know more about feeding sparrows popcorn, you can read this post.

Can Birds Eat Popcorn? Popped or Unpopped? Read This!

Birds like to indulge in various kinds of food, but can popcorn serve as a treat for them? Keep on reading to find out.


Use flat tray feeders or feeding bowls to feed the sparrows since they’re often seen trotting about on flat surfaces instead of eating from feeders.

Sparrows aren’t picky eaters, so what you can do is offer them seeds and starchy crumbs by spreading them on the ground or give them food from a feeding dish and set it out on the ledge of your balcony or your floor. This way, they will have plenty of food to munch on.

But be mindful of how much you feed them because these birds are very social and prefer munching on food with their families in flocks.

Keep an Eye Out For Predators

sparrow sitting on a handrail

If you’re living in an area where sparrows are a rarity, then you must take care of them in the sense that you should try and keep the potential threats away by paying close attention to predators roaming the area.

Since sparrows like to feed on the food kept on flat surfaces, they can become an easy target of mammals and reptiles like cats, dogs, raccoons, rats, snakes, and more. In open-air, however, they can become an easy target of birds like owls and hawks.

What you can do is keep your domesticated pets inside the house during the day, leave food out for them to consume so that they stay away from birds, and install baffles around trees so that it can keep the predators from reaching sparrow’s nests directly.

You can even place nesting boxes elevated from the ground. This will prevent predators like snakes and raccoons from hunting down these birds. Make sure you use the feeders with metal or plastic poles, as this will make it harder for predators to reach the birds.

sparrow sitting on a boulder

Keep Reading!

To sum it up, although the population of sparrows seems to have declined over the past 50 years, their sighting though has increased by 10%. If you’re wondering whether it is legal or not to consume them, you can because they are not protected under any state law.

Sparrows have been around humans for centuries. If you find yourself contemplating whether or not to eat sparrows, consider investing in a sparrow trap to devour on these species.

If you wish to know what do sparrows eat since you would be consuming them, read this post!

What do Sparrows Eat? Feed Them This to Attract Them!

Sparrows eat nearly everything, thus they are easily attracted. Read on to learn more about their favorite nutrients.

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By David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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David A. Swanson Picture

David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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