Can Sparrows Be Pets?

Can sparrows be pets? The answer to this question depends on the exact species. While house sparrows can make more or less good pets, other types are no good choice at all. You might even wonder why someone would want one of these birds in his home. Most people consider them a nuisance.

Is It Legal To Keep A House Sparrow As A Pet?

The right question is, about which type of sparrow we talk about in this regard. Generally, native birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and similar laws in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Surprisingly the house sparrow (passer domesticus) is not regulated at all. Moreover, it’s an invasive species that does a lot of harm to other native birds. Some settlers brought them to the continent in the 18th century to get rid of a pest.

The idea of the settlers worked out, but the house sparrow quickly conquered many regions in the States. It attacked other native birds and stole their nests.

However, if you decide to get a pet sparrow you have to be careful which type you get. Only the house sparrow is legal to own there is a wide range of other types which are not necessarily easy to differentiate.

I want to give you a full list of types of sparrows that are native in the United States:

  • American Tree Sparrow
  • Bachman’s Sparrow
  • Baird’s Sparrow
  • Bell’s Sparrow
  • Black-chinned Sparrow
  • Black-throated Sparrow
  • Botteri’s Sparrow
  • Brewer’s Sparrow
  • Cassin’s Sparrow
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • Clay-colored Sparrow
  • Field Sparrow
  • Five-striped Sparrow
  • Fox Sparrow
  • Golden-crowned Sparrow
  • Grasshopper Sparrow
  • Harris’s Sparrow
  • Henslow’s Sparrow
  • Lark Sparrow
  • LeConte’s Sparrow
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow
  • Nelson’s Sparrow
  • Olive Sparrow
  • Rufus-crowned Sparrow
  • Rufus-winged Sparrow
  • Sage Sparrow
  • Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Seaside Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • Vesper Sparrow
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • White-throated Sparrow

You see the list is very long and you have to be careful. Just like blue jays none of them is legal to own. If you are interested in pictures of the birds I recommend visiting birds-of-north-america.net.

Can You Keep A Sparrow As A Pet?

As long as you stay with the house sparrow, you can legally keep one as a pet. The question is more like “would you want a pet sparrow?” or “do they make good pets?”.

For many people, this species is more like a nuisance and they want to get rid of them. House sparrows are accustomed to live very near to humans. And they can have a quite big influence on our environments like houses and gardens. If you want to know what you can do about them, I recommend reading this article on worldbirds.com.

Do Sparrows Make Good Pets?

Man hand feeding sparrows

Sparrows can be cute, they are intelligent and small. So one could say, they should make good pets right? While this is true, they are not for everyone. In this section, we are going through some details that are not so obvious.

They Need A Lot Of Space

Small birds can live in small cages? Nothing could be more wrong. Especially when we talk about pet sparrows. They need a lot of space and even the biggest cage might not be enough for this species.

Unlike other common pet birds (parakeets for example) sparrows can not exercise in a cage by climbing ladders and hopping around. They actually need to fly regularly and often.

An aviary would definitely be the better choice for these birds but not everyone has the space to build one. We are talking also about a bigger investment here.

The Ambivalence Of Social Needs

Sparrows are social birds that need companionship with other conspecifics. That said, they are quite aggressive and will attack many birds, including their own species.

So keeping them together with other birds won’t work and you would need to build an even bigger enclosure to avoid fights with conspecifics.

They Are Susceptible To Illnesses

Sparrows are susceptible to some illnesses like metabolic diseases and infections. You should be aware of potential visits to the vet.

This is, of course, a question of money too. Are you willing to spend the amount needed for your little bird? A question that you should answer honestly before you get or start to care for an orphaned sparrow.

How To Get A Pet Sparrow?

You can’t buy a sparrow at the pet store. Only a few people are interested in keeping them as a pet so there is no demand. For the store owners it’s that simple.

However, it’s allowed to care for a house sparrow and you won’t need to contact a rehabber when you find an orphaned or injured bird. If you want to care for one I suggest reading my article on the topic “how to care for baby birds“.

The younger the bird the easier it will be to tame him. But have in mind, that the process might can’t be undone. If a young or baby bird imprints on a human, it won’t be able to survive on its own in the wild anymore.

So if you decide that your bird should be free one day it will be his death sentence. Caring for a bird that can live up to 20 years and more in captivity is a big commitment. Think twice before you even start with this project.

How Much Is A Pet Sparrow?

Sparrow sitting on tree

The bird itself will be free in most cases. You can’t buy a house sparrow from a breeder or a pet shop. In most cases, owners come to their birds by finding an orphaned or injured bird.

The cuteness of the little creatures makes many people weak and they start taking care.

However, while the bird itself costs no money, be prepared to spend a bit more on cage, food and veterinary care.

While most bird cages are too small for this species, the best way to ensure good housing would be to build your own. Calculate with a few hundred bucks for the materials you need.

The food will not be much. A few dollars each month are usually enough to feed your little bird. Sparrows eat mostly grains, seeds and insects. They will be fine with many commercial bird food mixes.

Also, prepare to spend between 50 and 100 dollars a year on vet bills. The amount spend can increase with the age of your pet bird.

What To Feed A Pet Sparrow

As I said, adult house sparrows eat grains and seeds and are happy with commercial bird seed mixes. So it would be easy to satisfy this need. 

However, baby sparrows need something else. Wet cat food, worms and insects are the food to serve. You can learn more about caring for baby birds in my article.

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