Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus)

Dead Sea Sparrow

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Passeridae | [latin] Passer moabiticus | [UK] Dead Sea Sparrow | [FR] Moineau de la mer Morte | [DE] Moabsperling | [ES] Gorrin del Mar Muerto | [NL] Moabmus


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Passer moabiticus EU Israel to w Pakistan
Passer moabiticus mesopotamicus
Passer moabiticus moabiticus
Passer moabiticus yatii

Physical charateristics

Distinctly trim sparrow, smallest and (males) most colourful of genus. Male has grey head with pale supercilium, streak under eye, and submoustachial stripe turning up round cheek, and black bib; yellow-buff tone to rear supercilium and lower part of moustache unique within genus. Female buffier above and cleaner below than all other Passer except Desert Sparrow; also shows yellow in supercilium and on side of throat; as male, lacks bold wing-bars.

wingspan min.: 19 cm wingspan max.: 20 cm
size min.: 12 cm size max.: 13 cm
incubation min.: 9 days incubation max.: 16 days
fledging min.: 11 days fledging max.: 16 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


Eurasia : Israel to West Pakistan


Patchily distributed in south-west Asia near watercourses or pools in arid usually lowland regions where shrubs such as tamarisk, thick scrub, or trees afford cover and nest-sites; in Israel, also in well-vegetated cultivated land.


Egg-laying in Israel from end of March, from late April in Cyprus. In Israel, commonly 2(-3) broods. Nest is built mostly 1-10 m above ground in branches of trees near water or standing in water; occasionally recorded at least 2 km from water. Nest: bulky, open globular or cone-shaped structure built of stiff dry twigs, 15-25 cm long, finely interwoven round branches of tree (resembling small nest of Magpie), lined with thick pad of plant down, seed panicles, fibres, and feathers. Domed, with entrance hole 40 mm wide spiralling down from top to cup. Eggs are sub-elliptical, smooth and slightly glossy. Ground-colour white or buffish, but often completely obscured by purplish-brown or grey spots and speckling; 1-2 eggs in clutch much lighter with only sparse spotting at large end. Clutch: Israel, 4-5 (1-6) which are incubated for 9-16 days. YOunf fledge after 11-13 days.

Feeding habits

Mainly seeds, especially of grasses. Most food sought on ground, but seen taking seeds from tamarisk trees and papyrus, and majority of insect food obtained by searching leaves of bushes and small trees such as tamarisk and willow.


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Passer moabiticus breeds locally in Cyprus and southern Turkey, with Europe
accounting for less than a quarter of its global breeding range. Its European breeding
population is very small (as few as 900 pairs), but underwent a large increase between
1970-1990, which outweighed the moderate decline (>10%) it suffered during 1990-
2000. Although the size of the European population could render it susceptible to
the risks affecting small populations, it is marginal to a much larger non-European
population. Consequently, the species is provisionally evaluated as Secure.
Dead Sea Sparrow status Least Concern


Many, or locally all, birds absent from breeding colonies October-March, but this appears to be more of a dispersal into feeding areas in cultivated land than a directed migration.

Distribution map

Dead Sea Sparrow distribution range map

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