HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)

The House sparrow is widespread around the world, wherever humans settled, bringing the birds with them. As the Latin name implies, it is a passerine, measuring 15 cm (6 in.) long. The English word ‘house’ in the bird’s name, as well as ‘domesticus’ in the Latin name, both refer to this species’ proximity to human buildings, which they often use to build their nests. And about the name ‘sparrow’ – this bird is an ‘Old World’ sparrow, NOT related to all the other ‘New World’ sparrows in North America.

The house sparrow is native to Europe and parts of Asia, so its presence elsewhere in the world is due to its introduction.

The breeding male has a grey head and black mask, bill, and bib. The back of the head (nape) is rusty, as well as the back and wings, which have black streaks. The under parts are grey. The non breeding male has less black. The female has duller colors and no black, and the bill is yellowish. On the ground, the bird is a hopper rather than a walker.

House sparrows feed on seeds, grain, and food scraps in cities. Because of their feeding habits, they can easily monopolize bird feeders as well. When raising their young house sparrows will also feed on insects. House sparrows that do nest in natural areas select tree holes, often displacing native species to claim the nest.

House sparrow on a bench -Wellington Botanic Garden, NZ
House sparrow on a bench -Wellington Botanic Garden, NZ
House sparrow resting on a 'bed of roses' - Wellington Botanic Garden, NZ
House sparrow resting on a ‘bed of roses’ – Wellington Botanic Garden, NZ