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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David A. Swanson

June 20, 2021

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What’s This Post About?

The bird mostly found near houses and buildings belongs to the sparrow family Passeridae and is one of the most common birds.

These small-sized birds have a short lifespan of three years, have an average length of 16cm, and weigh between 24 to 39.5 grams.

House sparrows feed on grains as well as seeds, along with discarded food and bugs. Many commercial birdseed combinations are also consumed by sparrows.

At outdoor cafes and picnic areas, you can frequently see them meticulously collecting our trash and devouring it.

The house sparrows eat almost everything except black oil sunflower seeds. They like eating grains, bird seeds, insects, food that animals eat, and the leftovers people end up throwing. To attract the house sparrows, you can keep their favorite food around such as the canary seed.

Appearance of House Sparrows

house sparrows sitting on the ground

The male house sparrows are vivid in color. They have gray heads, a reddish-brown neck, and some shades of black on the chest and plumage. Whereas, the female house sparrows are mostly brown with shades of gray underneath.

These round-headed birds look different as compared to other sparrows because of their shape. They have a buffed-up chest, a big and circular head, a small tail, and a more plumped-up beak than the rest of the North American sparrows.

Types Of Foods Sparrows Like To Eat

sparrow is drinking water

House sparrows mostly eat bird seeds such as millet, canary seed, and milo. They also like eating grains, insects such as moths, and they then feed them to their off-springs.

These fluffy birds are often seen picking the leftovers of people at parks and the food in trash cans.

There are multiple types of grasses that the house sparrows eat, among them, the most commonly eaten are crabgrass and ragweed.

Fun Fact

The house sparrows clean themselves using dust and soil instead of water

These joyous and cheery guests are always seen near humans. They crack the seeds using their strong bill and are never shy enough to not eat the food placed in the feeders.

During the nesting period, they prey on insects such as moths, caterpillars, beetles, and aphids to feed their young ones.

Did You Know?

When the sparrows were increasing in population, people started creating sparrow clubs to see who killed the higher number of birds within a year

These birds are not selective in terms of what they eat and can eat almost anything with only a few exceptions.

House sparrows, at times, can be very aggressive. They dominate other birds, wipe down their eggs and fight with them to prevent them from eating food from the feeders.

Different Ways To Attract House Sparrows

First and foremost, it is important to know which type of foods are avoided by the house sparrows or are unhealthy for them.

1. Research

sparrow bathing in rain

Often, people feed birds without doing their research and they end up giving food that can have adverse consequences as a result.

It is essential to use high-quality food only to ensure that the sparrows do not end up getting sick or the feed does not get wasted because, at times, these birds avoid eating low-quality seeds.

2. Find An Appropriate Feeder

sparrows sitting near a feeder

Sparrows like to eat from flat surfaces, and hence, they are most likely to avoid a tube feeder.

Therefore, to attract them, you need to find a feeder that has a flat base and that can either be hung somewhere or placed on the ground.

In this case, a tray feeder would best suit the requirements of a house sparrow.

Here’s a feeder you can explore.

Nature's Way Bird Products CWF3 Cedar Platform Tray Bird Feeder

Crafted from insect and rot-resistant Premium cedar with a water-based protective stain

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If it rains, there are chances that the water will get collected in the tray feeder, eventually ruining the seeds.

Try to buy a plastic tray feeder because it is more convenient to clean if compared to the wooden tray feeders. The wood breaks down if it contains water for a long period.

3. Wash The Feeder Frequently

sparrow sitting near a feeder

To ensure that the birds remain healthy, one should clean the bird feeders frequently.

Moreover, it is even more important to wash the feeder after heavy rain or storm because the stagnant water in the feeder can form molds and result in the birds getting sick.

It is better to stay safe and wash the feeder with any kind of soap to remove any leftover soil and let it dry before placing the seeds again.

4. Spread The Seeds On The Ground

As we mentioned earlier, sparrows prefer eating their food from the ground, so to attract them to your yard, the best way would be to spread the seeds on the ground.


Use seeds such as cracked corn or millet and sprinkle it on the ground.

The reasoning for the tip given above is that these seeds are relatively cheaper than the rest, and they will not decompose as quickly as other seeds do.

Also, even if these seeds get wasted, they won’t cost a lot as they are inexpensive.

5. Shrubs

sparrow sitting near flowers

Sparrows prefer staying in places where they are protected from predators like cats and falcons. Therefore, they are more likely to be attracted to places that fulfill their requirements.

If there are shrubs already planted in your garden, the chances of sparrows visiting will increase.

These shrubs will not only provide protection but also serve as a safe place to construct nests while providing shade to sit away from the scorching sun.


Do not provide the house sparrows with any type of food that has carbohydrates.

Talking about shrubs and predators, the best way to prevent the cats from reaching the area where the sparrows feed is to construct a fence so that the birds can have their food and feed their young safely, and peacefully.

6. Place a Birdbath

You can also place a birdbath near the shrub or their feeders in your garden to attract these birds. Since they like to sit at low-heightened places, look for a birdbath that can be placed on the ground.

house sparrow holding a feather in its bill

Here’s a birdbath you can explore for attracting sparrows to your backyard.

WHW Whole House Worlds Bird Bath

Flat bottomed, this small bath is perfect to place on tabletops or directly on the ground to add a touch of whimsy in your garden

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Here are a few tips to increase the probability of a sparrow visiting your home:

  • Keep warm water in winters to protect them from cold.

  • A fountain birdbath should be a preferred option as they are more likely to come near the birdbath once they hear the sound of the water flowing. You can buy solar-powered water fountains to keep the process eco-friendly.

  • Make sure that the birdbath does not end up having algae on it as it could make the birds fall sick. To avoid this problem, clean the birdbath regularly.

  • Sparrows enjoy dust baths as well. To allow them to have one, you can make a spot where there’s a lot of soil and sand, receiving plentiful sunlight rays.

If you are interested to read about how to distinguish between a house finch from a house sparrow, read this post

How To Tell a House Finch from A Sparrow - 5 Differences!

House finch and sparrows are two different birds. If you are unable to tell the difference between the two species, then read this post!

Did You Know?

Adult sparrows are mostly vegetarian but the baby sparrows prefer to have insects in their diet.

7. A Safe Place To Nest

sparrows swarming the birdfeeders

House sparrows can easily be lured into backyards as compared to other birds. You just need to be aware of a few things which can hasten up the process of indirectly inviting them.

If you’re planning to attract sparrows to your place, you have to focus on the combination of the above-mentioned factors.

However, the most important factor that plays a significant role in deciding whether the sparrows will visit your yard or not is the nesting spot.

Your garden or yard should have a safe place for the birds where they feel protected from predators and can nest peacefully.

sparrow looking at fruits

You can make a separate place for the sparrows, where birdhouses can also be placed within the trees to provide some sort of attraction as well and increase the likelihood of their visit.

These social birds prefer to nest in a secure environment where they also have easy access to the shrubs and birdbaths, therefore, the nesting spot can be made near places mentioned above to increase their convenience.


Keep materials such as small sticks and grass that are required for nesting to make this process easier for them

Places Where Sparrows Are Commonly Found

sparrow sitting on a rope

Sparrows prefer to stay near humans due to the benefits they can enjoy such as easy access to food.

The name they are commonly known by ‘house sparrows’ makes a lot of sense as they are mostly seen making themselves comfortable at different locations within our homes such as window air conditioners, dryers, ducts, and other such places.

Did You Know?

House sparrows are the least-problematic birds while being studied during laboratory experiments due to their friendly nature. They are extremely low-maintenance and are not afraid of humans. This is why, they are often used as subjects in avian studies and for a fact, till date, about 5000 studies have been conducted and reported on sparrows.

sparrow sitting on a bicycle

They usually travel in flocks from one place to another, but they do not move beyond a few kilometers. Since these cheery little birds enjoy eating the leftovers, they are most commonly seen in food courts of shopping malls, parks, and warehouses also.

Fun Fact

These clever birds find ways to activate the sensors that open the doors for visitors, so they can enter the malls.

However, this can be a great problem for visitors as they would not want to be around too many birds if they visit a mall or an outdoor restaurant.

This is why people have tried to come up with temporary solutions like catching these sparrows with nets to ensure they’re safely removed from such places.

sparrow sitting on the branch of a tree

Keep Reading!

To sum it up, it can be safely said that the house sparrows are indifferent to the kind of food they eat, except for a few exceptions like the black oil sunflower seeds.

They eat anything and everything from discarded food to insects, grains, livestock feed, and different types of crops.

One of the best ways to attract them to your house is to feed them, alongside other relevant factors such as finding an appropriate feeder, washing it regularly, sprinkling the seeds on the ground, sowing seeds for growing shrubs, placing birdbaths, and making a secure nesting spot.

It is relatively easier to charm them into visiting your backyards as compared to other birds. If you are more interested in learning about the eating habits of birds, read this blog to find out about cardinal’s eating habits.

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

Are you in search of the best feed that you can provide to attract Cardinals to your backyard? Read ahead to find out more about it.

David A. Swanson Picture

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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