House Sparrow

House Sparrow

Key facts

Scientific name: Passer domesticus
Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding pairs: 5,300,000

Conservation status: Green

Family: Sparrows

Length: 14 – 15 cm
Wingspan: 19 – 22 cm
Weight: 24 – 32 g

What do house sparrows look like?

Adult male house sparrows have dark chestnut upperparts with black streaks on the back and scapulars. The flight feathers are brown edged with darker brown and there is a conspicuous white wing bar on the upperwing. The tail is dark brown and the rump is grey. The underparts are grey with a black chin and bib.

On the head the crown and nape are grey with a chestnut border that runs from the back of the eye, through the ear coverts, and to the sides of the neck. The cheeks are pale grey and the lores are black. They have dark brown eyes, a black conical-shaped bill, and pinkish legs and feet.

Female house sparrows are much duller than the males with brown plumage streaked with black on the upperparts and greyish underparts. She has no black bib or head pattern and the crown is brown. There is a pale buff eyebrow and her bill is yellow.

Out of breeding plumage males are duller with a smaller bib and a paler bill.

Juvenile house sparrows are similar to adult females.

How do house sparrows breed?

House sparrows start breeding in May and 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. They nest in crevices, holes, and cavities. Both sexes build the nest which is constructed from dry grasses, feathers, strings and bits of paper.

House sparrows lay 3-5 pale grey eggs with darker grey and purple spots which are incubated mainly by the female for 10-14 days. The male may take over for when the female is feeding. Chicks are altricial and are fed by both parents with regurgitated insects. They leave the nest at about 2 weeks after hatching and become independent at 28 days.

House sparrows produce 3 or 4 broods a year.

What do house sparrows eat?

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.

House Sparrow

Where can I see house sparrows ?

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.

What do house sparrows sound like?

Guido O. Keijl/xeno-canto

Did you know?

House sparrows have been living alongside humans since the Stone Age.

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