This post was created because I got a comment wishing to keep Sparrows from their feeders. I responded that I know of no way to do this because they come en mass and also eat from a variety of food sources. Typically, they like to ground feed but will go to feeders quite often.
So how do you get native birds? With Conservation Landscaping, a sustainable way to take cues from nature. I believe it is why this particular sparrow remains in Winter.
I also noted to that reader that there are many native Sparrows, so not all Sparrows should be discouraged. The White-throated Sparrow in this post is such a Sparrow. They are just so darn cute hiding in the thickets, then quickly emerging, hopping along in the snow to snag some food.
A key to having them is to have thickets and hedgerows near your feeders. Also they like the seed of many meadow plants. In my own garden, I let the turf grass grow long especially late in the year. I often see sparrows feeding amongst the ground weeds gone to seed, like the plantain and dandelion in September.
Below is White Crowned Sparrow looking content just outside the shelter plant, Juniperus chinensis ‘Spartan’. He was just feeding on perennials gone to seed.
If you have a larger property, try Juniperus virginiana, a favorite of Cedar Waxwings, Bluebirds, Robins, Cardinals and Downy Woodpeckers. Also the hairstreak butterfly uses it as a host plant. It naturalizes in urban conditions, but the species does need room to grow to 50-70 feet with a 35 minimum foot spread. Juniperus virginiana ‘Taylor’, is a cultivar that grows to 30 feet and only 3 feet wide. Pyramidal varieties, ‘Glauca’, ‘Canaertii’ and ‘Emerald Sentinel’ are female fruiting that are smaller than the species. There are spreading varieties also.
Common Juniper is another native variety used as a shrub. They grow in a wide variety of forms from rounded to upright. The Spartan juniper is used as a shelter plant because cats don’t really like the scratchy texture and it is a tall plant that the birds just adore.
Certain birds need what you see in the next photo. It is an example of having the three layers of vegetation that make up a natural forest. It also has the downed trees which many species find desirable.
I had to wait longer to capture these images of the sparrow than I do for many species of bird. These two sparrows wait until other birds are finished feeding before emerging from the safety of the understory plants. This White-throated is a great example of why, if you can do it, to maintain or create Conservation Landscaping.
Next post, our sparrow returns, still hopping and hoping you consider making a place for Conservation Landscaping. We discuss why it works and how you can at least have something similar on your own property in this three-part series.