White-throated Sparrow – Hop, Hop Hopping Along for Conservation Landscaping


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.

White Crowned Sparrow

White Crowned Sparrow

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.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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42 Responses to White-throated Sparrow – Hop, Hop Hopping Along for Conservation Landscaping

  1. The song of the white throated sparrow is one of my very favorites. I look forward to hearing it every year.

  2. Very nice series, again!

  3. I have lots of these sparrows in my garden during the winter through late spring when they migrate north. Conservation landscaping is one of my favorite topics…looking forward to reading more!

    • Most of them move on when the weather changes here to get a good food source. Some remain as shown. In previous years I did not notice as many as I am seeing this year. The warmer winters must have convinced some to stay on, just like the numerous robins I have been seeing.

  4. Pat says:

    Adorable little bird.

  5. debibradford says:

    Lovely post, and very informative. I’ve taken notes! Love the cute sparrows.

    • There is not much to having Conservation Landscaping if one is willing to let a portion of a property in its natural state. It becomes more selective when using the immediate property one has their home.

  6. Sweet photo of the white crown

  7. janechese says:

    I knew I was getting into birding when I got interested in identifying the different sparrows. I enjoy this sparrow and its song. I also appreciate the importance of conservation landscaping -thank you for drawing attention to this.

  8. Love that photo of the bird on the icy branches.

  9. I love sparrows and take a lot of them. I also throw my crusts out to them and they know to come then. We live in a small city. They are also great chatterboxes too. 😀

  10. I love to see all the birds this time of year – your photos are great! I am not so happy with the sparrows when they kick the bluebirds out of the homes designed just for them!

  11. I love my sparrows. Great photos. Blessings, Natalie 🙂

  12. I love the white crowned and white throated sparrows and would never discourage them. I don’t let my turf grass go to seed if I can help it but I do let the perennials and ornamental grasses do so despite the irritation of a surplus of volunteers the next year.

  13. Such pretty little birdies. We have just the basic brown sparrow around me, unless I just haven’t seen the others. Margie

    • You might just have the native sparrows. I have had both of these in my garden, and it takes looking to see them in amongst the hoards of House Sparrows. The White crowned is in my pear tree in the photo above.

  14. franzisofie says:

    They have a great colour! Very beautiful.

  15. I can’t imagine how long the winter must feel to you there. In London we only get rain and wind, floods are the real problem this year, but also that nature is waking already, you can fell it in the nearby gardens. I am worried that we could have a late winter when vegetation has sprouted. But cannot do anything but hope for the best.

    • I have read your weather has been wet this year. I also saw the waves hitting your shores. That was almost scary they were so high. I too wonder what this year will bring. Each year has been not what we should expect.

  16. I always enjoy your beautiful photography of the birds and appreciate your efforts in creating an inviting habitat for them. It has been so unusually cold and snowy for here that the birds are all hiding away nestled in the trees but I finally got a photo of a crow who stayed out long enough which was a treat!

  17. Alistair says:

    I wouldn’t dream of trying to prevent the common Sparrow from dropping by, mind you your White-throated Sparrow is seriously cute. We have been in our new house for two months now, neighbours comment at the amount of birds at our feeders. We are lucky to have a woodland area bordering our garden, I have decided to claim it as ours as the garden is so small. Anyway this area of woodland attracts the birds, but most people don’t realise how much they love sunflower hearts which we constantly give them..

    • You are lucky to have the woodland bordering your property. Many of my clients have the same (although many times larger) and do as you intend, have taken over land not their own to have their own woodland gardens. The woodland provides birds protection and is really convenient for you attracting them. My clients even built paths through the woods and have birdbaths, feeders and houses along the way.

  18. Indie says:

    I know gardeners with little lots can try to just have different layers of vegetation. I am fortunate in that I now have some land – I have a forested area and a sort of meadow. I’ve always had lots of sparrows, though – they might be ‘common’, but I think they are cute!

    • You have an ideal property to have the best of both worlds. You will support much wildlife in both woods ad meadow. House Sparrows are plentiful here in the US, but I am not sure about the native ones as to their numbers.

  19. It seemed like you were describing our property in this post. I suppose some of the neighbors wonder why we don’t haul away the downed trees, but we do see a lot of unique wildlife here. Sometimes it amazes me how many birds, mammals, and insects are in such a small area at the same time! Great post!

  20. landscaping says:

    Great Great photos. Those sparrows are so cute

  21. lucindalines says:

    Your photos capture the personalities of those birds, so great to see.

  22. I would love to see the white-throated sparrow….I have not planted the eastern cedar as it is too big for my yard but I like the idea of Juniperus virginiana ‘Taylor’. I will have to look for it.

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