Species: House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Family: Sparrows (PASSERIDAE)

Category: Birds

Location: Widespread

A. Birds

More extensive information on birds can be found in a separate blog post.

B. Sparrows (PASSERIDAE)

Old World Sparrows, also known as True Sparrows, are a small group of seed-eating birds (that also eat insects). They typically nest on buildings, and may scavenge for food, living amongst people in cities quite opportunistically.

Sparrows are similar to finches but have the vestige of an outer primary feather and an extra tongue bone, neither of which finches have.

Sparrows are usually gregarious (in all seasons) and can often nest in colonies.

C. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

This small bird has a chunky build. Males have grey caps and black bibs. The colouring of females is less pronounced, making them ideal examples of the classic term LBJ or little brown job.

The House Sparrow is usually found near people in towns and cities, whereas the Tree Sparrow prefers farmland. Both species have declined in number quite dramatically in recent years, and both species have a RED status in the UK. They are found throughout Europe, North Africa and Asia, and have been introduced into the Americas, Southern Africa and Australia.

House Sparrows are resident breeders in the UK and are in the habit of nesting near people. However, there are some notable exceptions to this. In 1956, House Sparrows were reported living in a coal mine at Linton Colliery in Northumberland. This was also noted in 1962 in Chester Moor Colliery in County Durham (at a depth of 182 metres), and in Horden Colliery, also in County Durham, in 1963 (at a depth of 300 metres). The most extraordinary example of this behaviour was noted at Frickley Colliery in Yorkshire (at a depth of 640 metres) where two or three House Sparrows were spotted between 1975 and 1978. In November 1977 a pair nested at that depth and raised three young which, unfortunately, did not survive. These extreme instances happened through naive juvenile sparrows venturing to these depths by accident.

In Oscar Wilde's delightful allegory The Happy Prince, which concerns a Swallow that lingered beyond its migratory summer, it is the sparrows that chirrup to each other that the Swallow is a "distinguished stranger".

The House Sparrow is listed on the IUCN Birds of Conservation Concern: Red List. It is classed as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species. It is protected under Section 41 of The Natural Environment & Rural Communities Act, 2006, and is also on the Sussex Notable Bird List.


House Sparrow

House Sparrows have a RED status in Britain. They nest in towns and cities close to people.

The individual in this photograph was ringed in the Cemetery on August 19th 2021.