House Sparrows eating berries
House Sparrows are large members of the finch family of birds. As such, they are predominantly seed eaters.
In reality, House Sparrows are far more omnivorous than that. Sure, they do eat a lot of seeds. For this we are grateful at our place, otherwise we might not just be over run with weeds but positively lost in a jungle of undesirables. I had to struggle to find something positive about those pesky little critters that seem to breed like rabbits… actually – our rabbit population is now breeding like sparrows… but that’s a story for another day.
Observing several House Sparrows near our bird bath recently I was interested to see that, after a quick drink, they both went to a nearby bush. This plant happened to be a local species called Enchylaena tomentosa. It is also known by the common name of Ruby Salt Bush. We have a few around on our property but I didn’t think they had any fruit on them at present. The sparrows were quite obviously eating the berries.
I guess the House Sparrows do eat far more than just seeds. According to the record in HANZAB* they eat a wide range of insects, spiders, fruits, grains (cereal crops) and berries such as the Boxthorn and the Ruby Salt Bush. Some have even been observed eating the nectar from a variety of trees and bushes. And we mustn’t forget their scavenging habits of eating food scraps left by humans.
HANZAB also mentions that they can be a pest in vegetable gardens too. Most gardeners will quickly point out that the humble House Sparrow has a definite liking for young seedling plants and poultry lovers will keep the local population booming by supplying a steady gourmet food source in their chook yards.
It seems that the little House Sparrow has rather eclectic tastes.
- House Sparrows – Birds in Backyards site
- Australian Plant Society article on Ruby Salt Bush – with a photo of the plant and berries
- *HANZAB – Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds Volume 7
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