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Sparrow's Diet

| Updated September 26, 2017

Many species of sparrows range all over the world, and the birds adapt their diets to their locations. The types of food available in the habitat influence what sparrows eat, but they do have general feeding trends. They scratch for most of their food on the ground, but they may also perch on stalks of grass to eat the seeds or scavenge for food in other ways. In late summer and fall, after their babies have been raised, sparrows join together in small flocks to search for food.


A sparrow's primary diet consists of seeds. Sparrows enjoy grain crops grown in whatever area in the world they live. They like wheat, corn, oats, barley and many other grains also eaten by humans. In Asia, many sparrows eat rice and can be a pest problem in rice paddies. Sparrows also eat the seeds of many grasses and other plants not eaten by humans.


During spring and summer, sparrows gather many insects to feed to their young. Baby sparrows eat a high-protein diet consisting primarily of insects. Adult sparrows also eat more insects during this time. In the fall, when the young sparrows have left the nest, the birds switch back to a diet primarily consisting of seeds. They continue this seed diet until the following spring, when they catch more insects for new babies.


Sparrows readily eat bread crumbs and other foods thrown out by humans. Sparrows living in cities often seek out such food in garbage cans and may be seen scavenging for food in parking lots or around dumpsters. In cities, sparrows beg for food along with the pigeons in parks. Throw out some bread crumbs near a bird feeder if you want to attract more sparrows to your area.

Grasses and Leaves

A sparrow's main interest in grasses and other plants is their seeds. Occasionally a sparrow may eat some grass and leaves. This happens more often when sparrows cannot find enough seeds to satisfy their appetites, but green leaves and grasses never become primary in a sparrow's diet.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables do not make up the bulk of a sparrow's diet, but they will eat them occasionally. Sparrows sometimes peck at fruits and vegetables but do not eat the whole thing. Gardeners often complain about holes pecked out of berries and other produce. Sparrows are often the culprits who damaged these fruits and vegetables.