As spring slooooooowly approaches, I find that I am getting more and more questions regarding birdhouses and nest boxes. That alone is not unusual for me. What I have found surprising is that for the first time ever, I am getting requests from customers who want to attract nesting Sparrows.
The response to this inquiry is a tricky one, as there is no real cut-and-dry answer.
Attracting Nesting Sparrows
Sparrows do not usually nest in birdhouses or nest boxes. Those seeking to attract a nesting pair could try a nesting platform, such as for a Robin, and place it low, but there is no guarantee that your Sparrows will take to it. They generally nest low to or on the ground and on or around buildings. They do sometimes select low shrubs for their nests, which is why I suggest a nesting platform-- those most closely resemble shrub nests. Your best chance for success is to offer a brush pile with plenty of twigs and lawn clippings for them to use.
Protecting Nesting Sparrows
According to The Humane Society, House Sparrows will try to find spaces in your house to nest. Cover any crevices or vents on the outside of your buildings with wire mesh to prevent Sparrows from building their nests in places that can harm them. You may further try mounting a nesting platform or nest box nearby as those are common nesting sites. Just be warned that nesting Sparrows are noisy neighbors!
The Problem with Sparrows
Sparrows will also compete for birdhouses and nest boxes meant for other species. However, since Sparrows can get quite aggressive, this can leave you without any tenants in your birdhouses. Again, if you want to attract Sparrows specifically to these houses, Bluebird and Wren houses may work, just be sure to mount them in the spaces they are naturally attracted to.
Finally, laws regarding Sparrows differ in the US from state to state. They are seen as nuisance birds and pests because House Sparrows are not native to North America. Please check in your area for any regulations regarding nesting wildlife. You may be advised against trying to attract them.