House Sparrows in Your House Care
Here are the basics of caring for a house sparrow in your house. This information is geared towards hand raised adult birds. Details for raising orphaned or injured babies and initial treatment of injured and ill adult birds is found on the House Sparrow Information page. More information about caring for injured or ill adult birds is found on the Emergency Care page, on this site. Please use the contact form on the Home page, our Facebook page House Sparrows in My House, or firstname.lastname@example.org, to inquire about specific house sparrow questions you may have.
There are many options for keeping house sparrows in a house.
Some house sparrows are given the run of the house which opens up serious safety issues. Many birds end up hitting ceiling fans, get stepped or sat on, get hit by an opening or closing door, drown in an open toilet, or fly out an open window. Some birds are confined to a smaller room where they can have free flight but they are much easier to keep safe. Others are in a cage most of the day but come out for free flight when someone is around to supervise.
My Baby Bird has lived in our living room with her family for over 11 years. She stays in a cage when we are not home. When she was younger, she would come out for free flight numerous times a day when I could keep an eye on her. I would be sure she was safely in her cage when there was water boiling on the stove top, when people were coming in and out the front door, and when I wasn't home. Now she doesn't fly free anymore but instead hangs out in my hand when I'm working at the computer or sitting and talking to family.
Sunny has her own room. She spends the day free flying, roosting on her favorite ceramic mug, sitting on her meal worm box wishing the worms would fly out to her, or sitting on the window sill at night. I visit with her when I have work phone calls and paper work to do on my computer. She sits on my shoulder or in my hand, or she finds her old tie dye kit box to sit on and takes a nap while I work. At night she gets her meal worm when she goes into her cage. I feel that it's safer for her to be in the cage at night. Willie lives in Sunny's room. He is totally blind so he is in a small cage similar to the one he came in. I make sure that his dishes and perches remain in the exact same place so he can feel confident about making his way around to eat, drink, sleep, and bathe in the seed dishes. He loves a good hand hug and a neck massage.
Years ago when I rescued Betty and Stevie, we decided to build an outdoor aviary for them to live in year round. After extensive research and obsessing over how to keep them safe from predators, warm in the winter, and happy, we came up with a modified shed. Two benches allow me to visit with them comfortably. One closed side provides shelter from rain and wind and a place for their night time cage to stay dry and covered. Their heaters are plugged in near the cage and keep them warm on cold winter nights. The three open sides are protected with a double layer of coated 1/2" wire mesh with screening on the inside to keep the bugs out. The full decking floor and asphalt roof keep predators, rain, and snow out. The bird house is in a perfect spot in the yard where the birds can communicate with me when I'm out in the yard with the dogs. The woods behind the house offer a cool breeze even on the hottest of days. The sun coming into the front of the house provides amazing warmth during the winter months. The birds spent 4 full winters out in the house with clear plastic covering the open sides and a radiant heater near their cage for nighttime comfort. The winter of 2013/2014 was so bitter they did come in for a few months. They were delighted to return to the bird house in the spring and did very well outside in the winter of 2014/2015.
Most importantly, captive house sparrows need to feel part of a flock. This means regular interaction with their people family. Hand raised baby birds don't know they are birds. Their human flock satisfies their need to be part of a group. Tame nonimprinted birds also integrate into the "human flock". My birds love to bathe when I'm there with them. Betty and Stevie eat their afternoon apples and then roost for a nap while I'm sitting in the bird house with them. This is their afternoon "flock" ritual.
Safety- Birds need to be kept in an area free of fumes, smoke, excess dust, ceiling fans, open toilets, water filled pots in the sink or on the stove top, hot stove top, open windows, opening and closing doors. Be aware of birds on the floor and on furniture, small crevices in the walls or base boards, and cats and other predatory pets.
Teflon- Fumes from Teflon, which is found in nonstick pots and pans, is deadly for birds when temperatures get high enough . It is best to avoid these types of cookware. If you have bird in the house, buy teflon-free pots and pans.
Dangerous foods for birds include avocado and chocolate.
When I go away for a night or a few, I leave a complete summary of bird care instructions. In addition, I leave lists of other emergency information which includes veterinarian and bird friend contacts. I always go over every detail of bird care with bird sitters even if they have cared for my birds in the past. A refresher course in bird care and an up to date summary sheet add a little bit of reassurance that my birds will be safe.
My Adult Birds Eat a Wide Variety of Healthy Foods
Here is a sampling of their daily buffet. It is important that they have a good protein source such as meal or wax worms, eggs, and green leafy vegetables. A good calcium source such as boiled egg shells is crucial, especially when the girls decide to lay eggs. Portions should be small! Even though they generally self regulate their food intake, too much of any food item is likely to cause a problem. There are outlines for a healthy song bird diet in various places online. This is the diet that has worked best for me.
AM- scrambled or hard boiled eggs, egg shells if available, almonds, organic red leaf lettuce, fresh meal worms (when available) for Betty and Stevie, mixed finch seed, millet, Harrison's super fine organic pelleted food, fresh water
Afternoon- Apples, carrots, fresh water
Evening- Special K cereal for Sunny and Willie, meal worms (when available) for Sunny and Baby Birdie, multigrain organic cereal with almond milk for Baby Bird, fresh water.
Snacks of grapes, mango, peaches, corn, brocolli, kale, pasta, cheese, bagels, cream cheese, pita, hummus,
It is very important to recognize that sparrows hull their seeds. They remove the outer shell (hull) of the seed and eat the inner nut. The hulls are left in the dish which leaves the dish looking full unless examined closely. Be sure to dump the old hulls and refill dishes daily. If you have a bird sitter taking care of your birds, be sure they understand that the dish will look full, but must be refilled daily. Otherwise birds run the risk of starvation.
Captive birds are protected from viruses, parasites, and predators, but they still are vulnerable to a variety of illnesses.
Contact your local avian vet or wildlife rehabilitator if your bird becomes ill.
Symptoms of Illness
Puffy, less active, on bottom of cage, decreased appetite, loose droppings, straining, obvious injury such as drooped wing and inability to fly, lame, head tilt, inability to perch, falling over...
Injury, intestinal parasites, viral and bacterial infections, fungal infections, egg binding (stuck egg), metabolic disease (kidney and liver failure), cancer. Toxicities from chocolate, avocado, and TEFLON nonstick pans.
Check fecal sample and treat according to findings,
Avian Vets might see a house sparrow but check before making an appointment. Wildlife veterinarians are now available and may be more open to taking care of a pet house sparrow. Check with wildlife rehab centers for a referral and advice. Sometimes it isn't worth the stress of taking a house sparrow out of the house for a check up. Some vets do make house calls.
Treatments vary from antiparasite medications and antibiotics, to general support, to surgical intervention. Generally, keeping a bird quiet and hydrated is very helpful. More specific treatments are determined once a diagnosis is made by an avian or wildlife vet or wildlfe rehabber.
When adding new birds to a household it is very important to enforce strict quarantine policies. All new birds should have two negative fecal samples at a 2 week interval, and remain away from other birds for at least 4 weeks. Hand washing and using a designated jacket or shirt for the new bird helps decrease cross contamination to your own birds.
House Sparrows are Active, Playful, Smart, and Social
Be sure they have plenty of free flight time, social interaction with their human flock, healthy treats, and clean bathing bowls. Sparrows Love:
Eating, Flying, Exploring, Bathing
Sleeping in a Hand or on a Shoulder, Resting on a Perch
Sharing Snacks with a Person
Meal Worm Farming
Spending Time with Their People