Spot a Sparrow – It’s not all about Sparrows!

October 15, 2015 4:29 pm


Considering the name, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Spot a Sparrow is all about sparrows, but there’s actually a lot more to it!

Yes, we think that Spanish Sparrows (Għasfur tal-bejt) are an underappreciated and beautiful little bird, and we’d love you to love them too. But in Malta, where the national bird is the strikingly colourful Blue Rock Thrush and all manner of spectacular birds migrate through, it’s understandable that the humble sparrow may seem a little drab by comparison!

Aron040415_19_BlueRockThrush European Bee-eater_TimMicallef Hoopoe - denis cachia

(Birds of Malta. Left to right: Blue Rock Thrush, European Bee-eater, Hoopoe.)

So why do we want you to report sparrow roosts in Malta and Gozo? What’s Spot a Sparrow really all about?!

Engagement with local nature
When you’re leading a busy life in the middle of a city, the idea of ‘nature’ may seem about as distant as the North Pole. But by drawing attention to something as widespread and accessible as the Spanish Sparrow, you may realise that nature is closer than you think. Some of this may have eluded us our whole lives, but others we’ve just grown so accustomed to that we no longer even notice!

Once the breath-taking numbers and deafeningly loud chorus of a sparrow roost have come to your attention, this simply can’t be un-noticed! So we hope that this inspires a wider curiosity towards other aspects of nature that can be found around us.

Wall Lizard - JL  2014.09.26_Swallowtail Butterfly2_JohnAldridge Sea Squill - JL
(Maltese Nature. Left to right: Maltese Wall Lizard, Swallowtail Butterfly, Sea Squill.)

Citizen Science
The use of citizen science in research has grown rapidly in recent years, and for good reason. Inviting public participation facilitates the collection of data at faster rates and greater scales. It also permits access to data that may otherwise be unattainable, such as observations made on private land.

But it’s not just us benefiting from your involvement. In fact, what’s really great about citizen science is that it helps the public to learn about scientific research and to gain a greater feeling of connection with their world. Our partnership with Inspire allows those with disabilities to experience these benefits too.

Community Empowerment
The data gathered through this project will be used to design a tree management guide and training for local councils and decision-makers. So by reporting roosts you’re helping to protect those trees, and the community is given a voice in the management of their local area.

The key outcome of the project is a greater protection of Malta’s trees, whose innumerable benefits extend far beyond the provision of roosting sites for birds. In fact, Spot a Sparrow isn’t as much about sparrows as it is about trees!

Trees have valuable impacts on our health, the quality of our environment, and even our economy. They also have social, cultural and historical value. In fact, we have so much to say about why we want to protect your trees that our next blog post will be dedicated to just that. So stay tuned to find out more!

Convinced to get involved? Report any roosts you spot in Malta and Gozo at

(Photos by Aron Tanti, Denis Cachia, Jennifer Law, John Aldridge, and Timothy Micallef)