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Tree Sparrow 

Tree sparrows at first look very similar to their larger and more common cousin: the house sparrow. Look closely though and you’ll see they have a chestnut brown head (rather than grey) and have white cheeks with a black spot.


Tree sparrows feed mainly on plants – eating buds and shoots, berries and flowers and grain. They’ll also feed on invertebrates such as beetles, caterpillars and spiders.


Populations of tree sparrow have fluctuated in the UK since the 1800s. Between 1975 and 1999 though there was a significant decline of 95% and their range declined by a fifth.


Tree sparrows have been made a UK biodiversity action plan (BAP) priority species and are also protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. In the Vale, one small population of tree sparrow remains and is part of a project led by the Glamorgan bird club.


nest box

Nest Boxes

Nest boxes have been installed at the breeding colony sites, with seven other nest locations available, such as in the barn walls.


In 2006 it was estimated that fifteen broods fledged from seven or eight pairs (tree sparrow can have more than one brood each year), producing around 60 youngsters.


The colony is thought to have doubled in size since the nest box scheme started.


Now that the status of tree sparrow in the Vale is looking more promising, work is planned to identify more colonies in the Vale and to find out more about the wintering habits of the tree sparrow.

Feed the Birds Project

The project provides special nest boxes and winter-feeding stations where local farmers are growing crops that provide lots of seed.


In the spring of 2006, a grain crop was planted and has grown well, providing an important source of seed to a range of farmland species including the tree sparrows. Other species have also taken advantage of the project including linnets, grey partridges, yellowhammers, reed buntings and skylarks. Towards the end of the winter the crop had proved so popular with the local birds that it had to be supplemented by bought-in seed.


The project had been led by the Glamorgan bird club, in partnership with the British Trust for Ornithology, the Countryside Council for Wales, Earth Watch and the Vale of Glamorgan biodiversity partnership. The project of course would not have been possible without the keen support of many local farmers.