gb5636's picture

House Sparrow Behaviour

Been feeding House Sparrows in my garden all summer round about 25 to 30 of them, when feeding they do a strange act of feeding then flying into our hedge as if something had disturbed them but nothing has disturbed them they fly back for a few minutes and go through the same ritual again, very strange can anybody answer this question to why they do this? Its not as if they fly away the hedge is only a couple of feet away and they do not hide in the hedge its just like a game there playing.Thanking you in anticipation for an answer



RachR's picture

House sparrows

I have seen house sparrows in my garden doing this also. I had put it down to the sparrows not wanting to spend too much time exposed to predators whilst feeding. Sparrow hawk appear so fast that maybe this is why they bob in and out of the hedge.

I would be interested to know if anyone else has any other theories.


Rimu's picture

This is typical of house

This is typical of house sparrow flock feeding behaviour, they even do it in New Zeland where there is no common raptor predator. Nevertheless, it is usually assumed to be a behaviour adapted to minimising the risk of exposure to raptors.

Dave Dawson

gb5636's picture

House Sparrow Behavour

Thanks dave and rachael for your comments they are still doing it, the starlings are also doing it at times but the coal tits just look at them as if there daft and carry on feeding.As for it being exposure to predators some of them sit on top of the edge which makes them vulnerable for attack. Thanks again Gordon.

browntrumpet's picture

Coal Tits

Wouldn't the Coal Tits basically be 'cannon fodder'?
They are at the bottom of the pecking order and would be used by other birds to check the coast is clear.

Refugee's picture

Big flocks

I have noticed that if there is a large flock of any birds they are triggered by one and from where it was they all "peel off" as they take flight. Only one has to "think" it has seen a cat.


anonymous spotter's picture

Bird behaviour

The ones on top of the hedge are probably acting as lookouts for the rest of the flock. Whilst not distracted by feeding they can keep an eye out for predators.
I have observed Waxwings behaving in a similar manner. They will congregate at the top of a tall tree ; then as if at a given signal they will swoop down to a nearby Rowan tree. After gorging themselves for a few minutes they will all return simultaneously to the tall tree. They repeat this until the Rowan is stripped if its' berries and then move on to another location.

Refugee's picture

Dust bathing

They do it all the time. I have seen them doing it in the garden of a house that has been vacant for a few years while they are dust bathing. The land lords spray it with weed killer a couple of times a year and i suppose this helps keep ticks at bay as a bonus. I have no idea what triggers them. It is fun to put a container of seed out and once it is almost empty it tips over when one perches on the edge. That does trigger them to fly to the perch. What else it is i have no idea but they all come back again just as quickly after the pot has tipped over.


Refugee's picture

Other behavior

They also fly to a tree in a flock and have a sort of vocal conference for a few minutes and then fly to another tree and do the same again some times several times and then nothing like it for weeks. This is mostly in the winter when the trees are bare. Is this to do with the "pecking order" for nesting sites?