‘Help us to save our sparrows’

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CONSERVATIONISTS want people to take a careful look at sparrows to help rescue the declining farmland bird.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust is running a project to boost the tree sparrow population in the county. Numbers of this smarter version of the townie house sparrow have dropped to about three per cent of the 1970s population as hedgerows decline and changing farming methods mean less spilled grain .

But at SWT’s Lackford Lakes reserve it has boosted the tree sparrow population from two to 50 by providing nestboxes and seed plants. SWT will help land owners save other colonies when they are found.

SWT’s West Suffolk sites manager Joe Davis, who is leading the project funded by the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, said: “We are interested in reports from West Suffolk, particularly from Lavenham to Mildenhall and those areas within a 10-mile radius of Lackford Lakes visitor centre, where the project is based.”

By putting coloured rings on sparrows, they can record their age and where they ringed in a way that means people can report back without having to catch them.

Joe needs to know where the birds were seen and, if they are ringed, what colours they wore and on which legs.

Male and female tree sparrows look alike but have chestnut brown caps, instead of the house sparrow’s grey. They also have white cheeks and collar with a black cheek-spot.

Report tree sparrow sightings to Joe on 01284 728541 or at lackford.reserve@suffolkwildlifetrust.org.