What Do Sparrows Eat? A Complete Guide!


Hello, nature enthusiasts and bird lovers! Have you ever been captivated by the delightful presence of sparrows in your backyard or local park? If so, you might be wondering, “What do sparrows eat?” Well, you’re in for a treat! In this article, we’re going to unravel the fascinating world of a sparrow’s diet.

We’ll dive deep into the culinary habits of sparrows, discovering the wide variety of foods that fuel their daily lives. From seeds and insects to fruits and grains, sparrows have a diverse palate that contributes to their survival and well-being.

What do Sparrows Eat?

Sparrows have a varied diet that includes seeds, insects, and fruits. They love munching on grass seeds, weed seeds, and grains like sunflower seeds, millet, and oats. When it comes to insects, they enjoy feasting on beetles, caterpillars, flies, and spiders. Sparrows are also known to eat fruits, berries, and even kitchen scraps when they have the chance. They’re not picky eaters and can adapt their diet to different environments. In urban areas, they often scavenge for food in parks, gardens, and around bird feeders. The diverse range of foods sparrows consume helps them stay active and thrive in their surroundings.

sparrow eats grasshopper

Common Diet of Sparrows

Sparrows have a diverse diet, enjoying a variety of foods. Here are 12 common items that sparrows love to eat:

  1. Seeds: Sparrows have a strong affinity for seeds, including grass seeds, weed seeds, and grains like sunflower, millet, and oats. Seeds provide them with essential nutrients and energy.
  2. Insects: Sparrows are skilled insect hunters. They eagerly hunt for beetles, caterpillars, flies, and spiders, showcasing their impressive hunting skills.
  3. Berries: When fruits are in season, sparrows take delight in juicy berries like raspberries, blackberries, and elderberries, savoring their sweet and nutritious flavors.
  4. Fruits: Sparrows have a taste for fruits such as apples, cherries, and grapes. They can be seen perched on trees, plucking ripe fruits or hopping on the ground to devour fallen ones.
  5. Kitchen Scraps: Sparrows are opportunistic eaters and happily nibble on leftover bread, rice, and even bits of cooked vegetables if they come across them.
  6. Grass: Surprisingly, sparrows also consume grass. They eat tender grass blades, which can aid their digestion and provide some additional nutrients.
  7. Invertebrates: Alongside insects, sparrows relish various invertebrates like snails, slugs, and earthworms. These protein-rich delicacies are an important part of their diet, especially during nesting season.
  8. Rice and Grains: Sparrows have been known to devour rice and grains that are accidentally spilled or scattered on the ground. They make the most of any food mishaps.
  9. Human Food: Sparrows are not shy about scavenging human food. They may peck at crumbs, leftover popcorn, or even sample discarded french fries when given the opportunity.
  10. Plants: Sparrows also consume various parts of plants. They may nibble on leaves, buds, or even flowers as an additional food source.
  11. Vegetables: Leafy greens like lettuce and spinach are not off-limits to sparrows. They have been known to indulge in these veggies if they find them.
  12. Nuts: Sparrows have a fondness for nuts, including peanuts, almonds, and walnuts. They can crack open the shells to access the tasty and nutritious kernels.
sparrow eating nut

By embracing this wide array of foods, sparrows demonstrate their resourcefulness and adaptability. Their dietary preferences contribute to their overall health and vitality, making them a joy to observe in our surroundings.

Sparrows’ Diet By Types

Sparrows, those small birds we often see around, have different eating habits depending on their species. Here is a table that shows some common sparrows, their scientific names, and what they typically eat:

SparrowScientific NameCommon Diet
House SparrowPasser DomesticusSeeds, grains, insects, discarded food by humans and livestock feed.
Song SparrowMelospiza MelodiaSeeds, grasses, weeds, insects, grasshoppers, caterpillars, ants, wasps, and beetles.
Great SparrowPasser MontanusSeeds, Caterpillars, grasshoppers and cultivated cereals.
American Tree SparrowSpizelloides ArboreaGrains, berries, seeds and insects.
Eurasian Tree SparrowPasser MontanusSeeds, grains, weeds, insects, fruits
Italian SparrowPasser ItalineArthropods, seeds, gravel, shell fragments, fruits
Henslow’s SparroCentronyx HenslowiiAnts, insects, moths, flies, beetles, grasshoppers and crickets.

How Much do Sparrows Eat?

When it comes to sparrows’ appetites, their small size doesn’t hold them back. These little birds have quite a hearty appetite, consuming around 20% to 50% of their body weight in food each day. Considering that sparrows generally weigh between 0.5 ounces to 1.5 ounces, that’s quite impressive!

sparrow eating seeds

The exact amount sparrows eat can vary depending on factors like their age, activity level, and the availability of food. During the breeding season or when they have young to feed, sparrows may increase their food intake to meet the higher energy demands. It’s all about ensuring they have enough energy to take care of themselves and their growing families.

Their feeding habits are often concentrated within a range of fewer than 5 miles from their nesting areas. However, as late summer and fall approach, sparrows ramp up their eating habits. This is because they need to store enough energy to undertake long migratory flights of up to 70 miles per day.

What Do Sparrows Eat in Winter?

Winter is a tough time for many living creatures, but sparrows have ingenious ways of finding food to survive the cold months. Here’s a closer look at what sparrows eat during winter:


Sparrows rely on seeds to sustain themselves in winter. They search for grass, weed, and plant seeds, using their resourcefulness to find hidden caches or any remaining seeds.


While berries are more plentiful in warmer months, some plants keep their berries through winter. Sparrows take advantage of these remaining berries, which provide important nutrition and energy.

sparrow eating berries during winter


Although fruits become scarce, sparrows can still find dried apples or shriveled grapes that remain on trees or have fallen on the ground.

Buds and Bark

When other food sources are scarce, sparrows may turn to tree and shrub buds or inner bark as a last resort for sustenance.

Human Assistance

Sparrows also benefit from the kindness of humans. Providing bird feeders with seeds, suet, millet, and cracked corn can offer a lifeline for sparrows and other birds during the colder months. Supplemental feeding helps sustain their energy levels and improves their chances of survival.

sparrows eating cracked corn

Winter may present challenges, but sparrows have adapted their diets to overcome them. By making the most of available seeds, berries, fruits, buds, bark, and the generosity of humans, these resilient birds navigate the harsh winter conditions and emerge ready for the bountiful days of spring.

Read: How Long Do Sparrows Live? Get The Answers!

What do Sparrows Eat in The Summer?

Summer is a season of plenty for sparrows, as they enjoy a diverse and delicious diet. During this time, sparrows feast on a variety of foods to sustain themselves.

sparrow eating caterpillars in summer

Insects play a crucial role in their summer meals. Sparrows have a keen eye for spotting beetles, caterpillars, flies, spiders, and other small insects. They swoop down with agility, catching their prey mid-air and relishing the protein-rich feast.

Seeds are another staple in a sparrow’s summer diet. They happily indulge in grass seeds, weed seeds, and grains like millet and sunflower seeds. These nutrient-packed seeds provide the energy sparrows need to stay active during the warm months.

What Do Baby Sparrows Eat?

Baby sparrows depend on their parents for their meals. These young birds eat what their parents bring them, keeping their diet simple and straightforward.

parents feed baby sparrow

The primary food for baby sparrows is insects. Their parents tirelessly search for small insects like caterpillars, beetles, and flies to satisfy their hungry chicks’ appetites. These insects provide the necessary protein and nutrients for the baby sparrows’ growth.

In addition to insects, baby sparrows may also consume soft-bodied invertebrates like worms and grubs. These easily digestible creatures offer additional nourishment as the young sparrows continue to develop.

Baby sparrows are too young to feed themselves, so their parents play an essential role. The adult sparrows regurgitate partially digested food, including insects and seeds, to feed their offspring. This regurgitated food provides a simple and readily available source of nutrition for the baby sparrows.

What to Feed Baby Sparrows?

If you find a baby sparrow that needs your help, knowing what to feed them is essential for their well-being. Here are some simple and suitable options to provide the nourishment they need:

Feed baby Sparrow
  1. Cat/Dog Food: Soften a small amount of dry cat or dog food by soaking it in water. This creates a mushy consistency that is easy for baby sparrows to eat. It provides a balanced mix of nutrients to support their growth.
  2. Hard-Boiled Eggs: Mash a hard-boiled egg and mix it with water to create a soft and easily digestible food. Eggs are a good source of protein and can help meet the nutritional needs of the baby sparrows.
  1. Small Insects: Baby sparrows have a natural preference for small insects like ants, beetles, and moths. These insects are rich in protein and vital nutrients. Look for them in your surroundings or consider purchasing live or dried insects from pet stores.
  2. Dried Insects Mixed: You can find dried insects, such as mealworms, in pet stores. Mix these nutritious insects with some cat or dog kibble to provide a crunchy and wholesome meal for the baby sparrows.

Remember to offer small portions of food at a time and observe their feeding response. It’s important to provide a varied diet to ensure they receive a range of nutrients. Also, don’t forget to provide fresh water for hydration.

If you have any concerns about caring for a baby sparrow or need further guidance, it’s advisable to reach out to a local wildlife rehabilitator or avian expert who can provide expert advice based on your specific situation.

What Can I Feed Sparrows?

Feeding sparrows is easy and enjoyable. You can provide them with a variety of foods to keep them well-fed and thriving. Here are some common foods sparrows enjoy:

  • Seeds (such as sunflower seeds, millet and oats)
  • Insects (live or dried, like mealworms, crickets or ants)
  • Fruits (such as sliced apples, berries or grapes)
  • Kitchen scraps (leftover bread, rice or small pieces of cooked vegetables)
What Can I Feed Sparrows

By offering these foods, you can attract sparrows to your garden or provide them with nourishment in outdoor spaces. Enjoy the company of these charming birds as they delight in the tasty treats you provide.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Sparrows Favorite Food?

    The favorite food of sparrows can vary depending on their individual preferences and the availability of food sources. However, sparrows are known to have a strong affinity for seeds. They particularly enjoy grass seeds, weed seeds, and grains like sunflower seeds, millet, and oats. Seeds provide them with essential nutrients and energy.

  • Do Sparrows Eat Bread?

    Yes, sparrows can eat bread. They are opportunistic eaters and may enjoy nibbling on bread crumbs. However, it's important to remember that bread should not be their main food source. Bread lacks essential nutrients, so it's best to provide sparrows with a more balanced diet of seeds, fruits, and insects to ensure their nutritional needs are met.

That’s All, Folks!

So, this is what sparrows eat! They have quite the appetite and enjoy a diverse range of foods. By offering a variety of nutritious options, you can attract and support these delightful birds in your outdoor space. It’s a simple yet rewarding way to connect with nature and appreciate the wonders of these small feathered creatures.


Hyeat is the founder of Birds Indeed, a blog dedicated to all things avian. With a passion for birds and a deep understanding of their behavior, Hyeat shares their knowledge and experiences with readers. Join Hyeat on their journey to learn more about the diverse and beautiful world of birds.

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