House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

House Sparrow

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Passeridae | [latin] Passer domesticus | [UK] House Sparrow | [FR] Moineau domestique | [DE] Haussperling | [ES] Gorrion domestico | [NL] Huismus


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Passer domesticus EU, OR, AF widespread, introduced worldwide
Passer domesticus bactrianus
Passer domesticus balearoibericus
Passer domesticus biblicus
Passer domesticus domesticus
Passer domesticus hufufae
Passer domesticus hyrcanus
Passer domesticus indicus
Passer domesticus niloticus
Passer domesticus parkini
Passer domesticus persicus
Passer domesticus rufidorsalis
Passer domesticus tingitanus

Physical charateristics

The unmistakable small bird of towns and cities, house sparrow males have a grey crown, pale grey-white cheeks, are heavily streaked black and brown on the upper parts, uniform grey on the under parts, with an extensive black bib on the throat. Females and juveniles have a diffuse grey-buff head pattern and are less chestnut brown on the upperparts than males.

Listen to the sound of House Sparrow

[audio: Sparrow.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 22 cm wingspan max.: 25 cm
size min.: 14 cm size max.: 16 cm
incubation min.: 11 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 11 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 3   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


Eurasia, Oriental Region, Africa : widespread, introduced worldwide


These non-migratory birds are often closely associated with human populations and are found in highest abundance in agricultural, suburban, and urban areas; they tend to avoid woodlands, forests, grasslands, and deserts. Particularly high densities were found where urban settlements meet agricultural areas


Nest sites used by house sparrows include house martin nests; sand martin burrows; holes in trees and cliffs; haystacks; thatched roofs; under eaves; holes, nooks and crannies in buildings; thick bushes; and even in the bottom of grey heron nests. This pugnacious species can dispossess other species from their nests and is the reason why standard nest-box entrance holes are 2.8cm – to keep house sparrows out! The clutch of usually 4 to 5 eggs are laid from March to August. A brood can be hatched and fledged in one month, and up to four broods in one year have been known. It is still the most commonly killed species of bird on our roads. The average lifespan is around three years, although they can live to 12 years.

Feeding habits

The House Sparrow diet consists mostly of weed and grass seeds, grains, and insects. Where available, it also feeds on cultivated grains, fruits and vegetables. Although it forages mostly on the ground in open areas, the House Sparrow will perch on weed stalks to take seeds and search tree barks for insects. In urban areas, garbage constitute a significant part of the birds diet, and the consumption of grains by urban birds is less significant than in rural areas.


This species has an extremely 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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not 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.
House Sparrow status Least Concern


Most races sedentary, especially in west of range. Juveniles disperse locally from natal area, but once settled remain within a few km. A small proportion, mainly juveniles, makes more directed migration, mainly to south and south-west but usually limited in extent. Larger-scale movements occur sporadically, mainly involving northern populations.
Two other types of movement are of greater interest. Many populations undertake movement from colony area in late summer to ripening grain fields; this can be up to 2 km, birds remaining in area of grain fields and returning to breeding areas September-October. Second is dispersal: occurs October, April-May, and (juveniles wandering after becoming independent) June-August. Difficult to distinguish October and April-May movement from migration, but seems to involve birds that as result of overcrowding have failed to obtain breeding sites.

Distribution map

House Sparrow distribution range map

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