All our sparrows have gone.

We have had uncountable sparrows living in our beech hedge since moving here some 20+ years ago then last September/October there were definitely less this December we have not a single one. Can anyone shed some light to why or what happened.

  • Hi Neil
    Has anything happened to the hedge or any new building work in the area to disrupt them.

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  • Hi Alan
    Firstly thank you for taking the time to reply,
    No absolutely nothing, with the year we have had nothing has changed.
    The summer was normal with the sound of the hedge alive and well it’s 40’ long and at least 6’ wide and every year around the end of October I put the two bird feeders out to start to show them there’s extra food through the winter.
    It was November when I noticed the food hadn’t been touched, I’ve been checking the hedge every week through December and not a single sparrow.
    It’s never changed in the 20 years we’ve been here.
  • Where were the sparrows breeding in previous years? I suspect Alan was asking about building work in the area over the last 18months as a whole colony disappearing suggests changes could have occurred Spring or Summer 2019.

  • In reply to Robbo:

    Hi Robbo
    Thank you for your reply.
    Building work in our area has been little to nothing from our Lane apart from the diy, as far as commercial we had plans some 2 miles away clearing for a new supermarket but that was halted due to lockdown.
    As I said we have been here some 20 years and each year has been exactly like all others, if anything we noticed more activity this spring and summer due to lockdown with the young chicks making all the right load noises in spring and we watched them through the summer, they were definitely there.
    We always wait until the end of summer early autumn to trim the hedge to give time for the young chicks but this year we didn’t even do that.
    A whole colony like you say has disappeared and it’s worrisome to why.
    I have raked under the hedge to see if there is any evidence of them but it’s just leaves.
  • Hi Neil. I am not clear, from what as been written, as to where the sparrows bred. Disease is a slight possibility, but human involvement, DIY, or otherwise, seems far more likely.
  • Hi Neil, very strange that they have all gone. If they bred and raised their young as normal this year and yet none have returned when they normally would have, something has stopped them. As Robbo has said could be disease, but again odd that would have wiped them all out, or as Alan has said interrupted/disruption of some sort? Keep us updated, would be interesting to find out what happens.

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  • In reply to Catlady:

    Hi All
    Thank you for helping but....
    I think we need to start again as I’m not just giving up on this but I believe I’m limited in the knowledge of this subject and thus not helping very much with my answers. All I know is we had a beautiful beech hedge that was very much alive all through the seasons with our “sparrows” and suddenly within a few months there all gone after 20+ years, even with limited knowledge of birds I know this is wrong.
    So I will try and answer your very good questions again.
    I know there has been no building work in the area apart from a small shed being erected by a neighbour.
    As for breeding I can only imagine they have bred in this hedge every year for generations as there has never been a month when they were not there.
    We have had a cat all the time we have lived here and I can count on one hand how many birds it has caught in the last 10 years. I have gone through every month for this year of what we did or what happened differently and I can’t think of any change to any other year.
    So we’re left with a beech hedge that suddenly doesn’t seem so beautiful any more and bird feeders with no use as they are usually ravaged by them and changed weekly.
  • In reply to Neil21:

    Thanks for the further info. I doubt the house sparrows will have nested in a beech hedge. Possible, and they do nest in hedging. Not had any sparrow nests in any of our beech hedges over the decades though. Most nest under eaves, in nestboxes/martin nests, in the roof or in a couple of cases, in vegetation that can loosely be called hedging. Beech hedging here and at previous addresses does get used by sparrows regularly, but mostly as places to congregate, rest, shelter etc. I am still suspecting human involvement at wherever they have bred in previous years.
  • Predation threat often causes them to leave; perhaps a new cat in the territory. Unfortunately cats have catastrophic effects on small fragmented populations as with birds like sparrows.