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Top Stories from the Marlborough Downs

2014 sees tree sparrow community thrive in Wiltshire

January 2015


The Wiltshire tree sparrow community is thriving according to the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area (MDNIA) project. The MDNIA covers 10,370 hectares (25,625 acres) of chalk downland to the south of Swindon, within the North Wessex Downs.

In 2014 the number of tree sparrows in Wiltshire has increased. Across the county as a whole, 170 pairs were nested, raising 1,542 nestlings to fledglings.  This is a significant increase on 2013 when we saw 890 fledged from 125 pairs. The MDNIA recorded 76 pairs within its boundary that fledged young in 2014, with 623 nestlings to fledglings.

The species is reaping the benefits of the MDNIA Tree Sparrow project. Working with the MDNIA farmer's, 1,000 nest boxes have been sited across 300 square miles, creating sparrow villages in the area surrounding Marlborough. This has resulted in the majority of tree sparrows nesting within five miles of the MDNIA, growing their colonies beyond the nature improvement area boundary.


Since 1999 around 14,000 tree sparrows have been ringed in the Marlborough Downs area. Matt Prior, who manages the MDNIA Tree Sparrow project said: "Last winter's feeding has definitely helped the birds survive. A great breeding season last spring combined with us putting out large quantities of food again this winter means we are very excited about the prospects for tree sparrows in the Marlborough area next year".

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