Tree sparrows call Suffolk home

RECORD numbers of sparrows are choosing Suffolk as the place to call home.Conservationists have discovered 15 pairs of tree sparrows breeding in the county as a result of making an appeal for sightings.

RECORD numbers of sparrows are choosing Suffolk as the place to call home.

Conservationists have discovered 15 pairs of tree sparrows breeding in the county as a result of making an appeal for sightings.

It was feared there were no sparrows breeding in Suffolk, but the response to the appeal brought new optimism for the future of the birds, which have been declining in numbers since the 1970's.

Nationally, the number of tree sparrows dropped by 85 per cent in the 1970's and 80's.

But this new number of sightings has prompted a delighted response from wildlife groups.

Richard Rafe, area manager for English Nature said: "Finding this new population of tree sparrows is tremendous news. As a birdwatcher in Suffolk, I know how scarce this species has become in recent years.

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"Let's hope there are some more breeding groups as yet undiscovered within the county."

Workers from the English Nature, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, the Suffolk Ornithologist Group and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group are now putting up new nest boxes in the county.

It is hoped the boxes together with the increased numbers of birds will help to boost the population further and the exact location of them being kept under wraps in a bid to protect the birds.

Smaller and shyer than a house sparrow, the tree sparrow is best distinguished by its white collar and black cheek patch.

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