A rare relative of the house sparrow has found a haven in Dorset. The tree sparrow, red-listed due to concern about its population decline, is the country cousin of the familiar house sparrow. Smaller and shyer than its urban relation, the tree sparrow can be distinguished by its brown head. It has suffered from loss of habitat due to changes in farming practices.
Now bird experts have discovered a small number of tree sparrows in north Dorset, to the delight of wildlife-friendly farmers and conservationists. Dorset Wildlife Trust and Dorset Bird Club have joined forces to provide special nest boxes to encourage this vulnerable species to spread into new areas and increase its population.
Steve Davis, Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Volunteering Programme Manager, said: “It is fantastic news that tree sparrows are nesting in north Dorset so we are doing everything we can to boost their chances of increasing. Our volunteers were delighted to help with the construction of the specially-designed boxes and we hope to see some of them in use this spring.”
Dorset Bird Club paid for the materials to make the boxes and members have sited the boxes in a secret site managed by the Woodland Trust, close to the known nesting area. The boxes will be monitored over the coming months to assess whether they have been successful. Jol Mitchell, Conservation Officer of Dorset Bird Club, said: ”This is an exciting project that can make a real difference to a local population of a nationally-threatened bird species. It is also an example of what can be achieved through cooperation between different conservation organisations”.
If you would like to help with the conservation and recording of Dorset’s birds, please visit www.dorsetbirds.org.uk. For more information about how you can help Dorset’s wildlife, visit Dorset Wildlife Trust, visit www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk.