|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|House Sparrow (Passer domesticus).|
"Oh, dear, there is that human with the camera again!"
The House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) occurs naturally
in most of Europe and Asia, though it is replaced by
allied forms in some areas. It has also followed
humans all over the world and has been intentionally
or accidentally introduced to most of the Americas,
sub-Saharan Africa and Australia as well as urban
areas in other parts of the world. In the United
States it is also known as the 'English Sparrow', to
distinguish it from native species, as the large
American population is descended from birds
deliberately imported from Britain in the late 19th
century. They were introduced independently in a
number of American cities in the years between 1850
and 1875 as a means of pest control.
The 14 to 16 centimetre long House Sparrow is abundant
but not universally common; in many hilly districts it
is scarce. In cities, towns and villages, even round
isolated farms, it can be the most abundant bird.
The male House Sparrow has a grey crown, cheeks and
underparts, black on the throat, upper breast and
between the bill and eyes. The bill in summer is blue-
black, and the legs are brown. In winter the plumage
is dulled by pale edgings, and the bill is yellowish
The female has no black on head or throat, nor a grey
crown; her upperparts are streaked with brown. The
juveniles are deeper brown, and the white is replaced
by buff; the beak is dull yellow.
The House Sparrow is gregarious at all seasons in its
nesting colonies, when feeding and in communal roosts.
Although the sparrows' young are fed on larvae of
insects, often destructive species, this species eats
seeds, including grain where it is available.
In spring, flowers, especially those with yellow
blossoms, are often attacked and torn to bits;
crocuses, primroses and aconites seem to attract the
House Sparrow most. The bird will also hunt
The short and incessant chirp needs no description,
and its double call note phillip which originated the
now obsolete popular name of "Phillip Sparrow", is as
While the young are in their nests, the older birds
utter a long churr. At least three broods are reared
in the season.
The nesting site is varied; under eaves, in holes in
masonry or rocks, in ivy or creepers on houses or
banks, on the sea-cliffs, or in bushes in bays and
inlets. When built in holes or ivy the nest is an
untidy litter of straw and rubbish, abundantly filled
with feathers. Large, well-constructed domed nests are
often built when the bird nests in trees or shrubs,
especially rural areas.
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