Scientific name: Passer domesticus
Status: Resident breeding species
Breeding pairs: 5,300,000
Conservation status: Green
Length: 14 – 15 cm
Wingspan: 19 – 22 cm
Weight: 24 – 32 g
House sparrows are one of the most familiar birds in the UK. They are small chestnut brown birds with black streaks on their backs. Male house sparrows have grey crowns, cheeks and underparts with a black throat, upper breast and make between the bill and the eyes.
They have a white wing bar on the upperwing and a strong black bill, pink legs and feet and dark brown eyes.
Female house sparrows look quite different and are much duller than the males with grey-brown plumage and no head pattern. Her bill is yellow and she has a brown crown.
Juvenile house sparrows look very similar to females.
House sparrows tend to nest close to populated areas, in towns, villages and farms and have even been found in house lofts where they enter through broken guttering.
Both sexes build a nest from dry grasses, feathers, strings and bits of paper in crevices, holes and cavities. They lay 3 – 6 pale grey eggs with darker grey and purple spots which are incubated mainly by the female for 10-14 days.
House sparrow chicks are born under-developed (altricial) and are fed by the parents who regurgitate insects. They leave the nest when they are aged about 2 weeks and become independent at 28 days.
House sparrows will feed in large groups rowdily foraging on the ground, especially in winter. They are aggressive and dominate feeders trying their best to prevent other birds from accessing any food that’s available. They have a diverse diet and will eat just about anything including seeds, insects, worms, larvae, fruits, berries and kitchen scraps.
Where to see them
House sparrows can be seen all year round across the whole of the UK. Although they are declining from the centres of many cities they are still common in most towns and villages.
Guido O. Keijl/xeno-canto
Did you know?
House sparrows have been living alongside humans since the Stone Age.