The Cape Sparrow – a charming little bird

Male Cape Sparrow

I don’t think that there are many gardens that don’t have sparrows, of one kind or another, in them. The Cape Sparrow may occur in gardens throughout South Africa apart from the northern regions of Limpopo. They are also less common along the coastal regions of KZN. In some areas they may be more common than the House Sparrow and in others it’s the other way round.

Looking out the window from my study I see Cape Sparrows over most of the day. I put out bread, suet, and fruit, all of which they seem to enjoy. They are cheerful birds and certainly liven up the scene. When I go out in the morning to put food out one or two Cape Sparrows will fly down to within a metre of me. Apart from the other species of birds this particular feeding station attracts a pair of House Sparrows and, occasionally, Grey-headed Sparrows.

Cape Sparrow nesting information

The Cape Sparrow make its nest in a variety of natural places but they, like House Sparrows, like making their nests under the eaves of houses. I don’t mind this, but the nests can sometimes be a bit unsightly. Over the last 3 years I have probably found at least 10 dead chicks underneath their nests. I don’t know if my sparrows are bad parent or what else might be causing them to fall out the nest. Cape Sparrows lay between 3 and 6 eggs at a time, and they can breed multiple times a year. When the chicks leave the nest, they follow their parents around demanding food.

Female Cape Sparrow
Female Cape Sparrow

Besides the foods mentioned above they also eat seeds, insects, and young shoots from plants. I personally think that pairs are quite reliant on food tables if they are available as I don’t see my sparrows looking for much natural food. Perhaps they are spoilt!

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