Each winter one the birds I most enjoy seeing at my feeders is the chipping sparrow. I am not sure why that is the case. Perhaps it is because this sparrow is undoubtedly my most abundant feeder bird. Throughout the winter flocks of chipping sparrows, varying in size from a dozen or so to upwards of 100 or more birds descend on my two backyard feeding areas. Yet again, maybe my fondness for these tiny brown birds stems from the fact that they have healthy appetites, and I do indeed enjoy watching birds feed on my food offerings.
The chipping sparrows that visit my yard prefer white millet above any of the other foods that are available to them. Since the birds regularly feed on the ground, I scatter white millet seeds all around my feeding areas. However, they will also eat white millet seeds from elevated feeding trays and feeders.
If you would like to vary the chipping sparrow’s diet, offer it a seed mixture that contains large quantities of white and red millet. The chipping sparrow will also consume suet, scratch feed, bits of cookies and breadcrumbs, doughnuts, cornbread, peanut hearts and crushed pecan. It will also dine on mealworms.
When you watch these small birds feed, it easy to be lulled into believing they are not consuming much food. Actually, they are eating a seed every few seconds. Studies directed at chipping sparrow feeding habits have revealed that during the winter a single chipping sparrow can consume 2.25 pounds of seeds. This is a lot of food for a bird that is only 5.25 inches long.
Although I realize I am picking up tab for these voracious eaters, I will never complain. They have repaid me many times over by providing me with hours of enjoyment.
I agree with you about the chipping sparrows, Terry. They are always abundant and interesting to watch. I’m in southern GA, Fitzgerald, so they don’t breed here. I’ve often wondered how many may return to my area from the previous season, if any.