The House Sparrow is a common small bird that is often found in places that are abundant of houses and buildings. It has an inclination towards dislodging native birds from their nest boxes, which fuels some resentment towards the species. It is known to have adapted to human habitation, which in part explains why the bird is deemed as culturally prominent.
It grows to an average body length of 6.3 inches and weighs about 0.85-1.39 ounces.
The predominant colors in the plumage of adult males are bright black, white and brown. Specifically, they have gray heads, white cheeks, black bib, and rufous neck. Meanwhile, the females exhibit a pale brown and grey coloration. They are huffy-brown overall coupled with gloomy bray-brown underparts. The buff, black and brown stripes in their backs are conspicuous.
Compared with the North American Sparrows, House Sparrows are stockier, fuller in the chest, with a bigger, circular head, tinier tail, and broader bill than most American Sparrows.
Distribution and Habitat
House Sparrows are known to have adapted to human habitations. As a matter of fact, they are often found in places that have a significant number of houses and buildings, and less in places with less.
These preferred habitat locations are cities, towns, suburbs, and farms, especially around livestock. They usually avoid large woodlands, grasslands and forests. Moreover, they tend to survive extreme environments like deserts or the far north, granting that there are people in the immediate vicinity.
The diet of House Sparrows primarily consists of seeds of grains and weeds. It also feeds on insects and other types of food. Aside from feeding on crumbs or seeds on the ground, they also visit bird feeders.
Some of the animals that prey on House Sparrows are domestic cats, hawks, owls, and many others.
House Sparrows are rowdy birds, hovering down from eaves and fencerows to hop and peck at crumbs or birdseed. They prefer hopping rather than walking on the ground. They can be easily observed flying in and out of nest holes, or draping around parking lots.
As social animals, they love to feed in crowded flocks. They have also devised many ways to imply their dominance and submission. For instance, when they get nervous, they flick their tails. When they feel threatened, they crouch with the body horizontal, push their head forward, and lay out and roll forward their wings, and hold the tail upright. This may lead to a display, which is done with the lifting of the wings, fanning of the tail, opening of the bill, and the crown and throat feathers standing on end.
During courtship, males would fuzz up their chest, clasp their wings semi-open, fan the tail, and hop rigidly in front of the female.
The preferred nest locations of House Sparrows are cavities of buildings and other structures like streetlights, gas station roofs, signs, and many others. They would occasionally construct nests in vines that climb the walls of buildings. Although they often build their own nests, they also tend to be powerful competitors for nest boxes, displacing nest owners like Bluebirds and Tree Swallows.
The materials used in constructing the nests of House Sparrows are coarse dried vegetation, which are often pressed into a cavity until it’s nearly filled. Then, they use fine materials such as feathers, string, and paper, for the lining of the nests. Occasionally, they would put nests beside each other, with one nest sharing the same wall with another. Moreover, they also use their nests again for the broods of the following year.
The size of the clutch is 1-8 eggs, with about 1-4 broods arising from this clutch. The incubation period for these eggs lasts from 10-14 days, while the nestling period ranges from 10-14 days.
The House Sparrow is listed as least concern under the IUCN Red List.
Despite being common and widespread across its range, there is a recorded decline in the bird’s numbers in some areas. According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, the bird’s population declined by over 3.5 percent between 1966 and 2010.
The species’ estimated global breeding population is 540 million, with 13 percent in the U.S., 2 percent in Canada, and 2 percent in Mexico. It has an 8 over 20 rating on the Continental Concern Score, and is not included in the 2012 Watch List.
The recent industrialization of farms in North American cities is seen as a major threat the species’ population, causing decline across most of their range.