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A House Sparrow perched on the end of green guttering below a tiled roof.

House Sparrow

Passer domesticus

Key Facts

  • Length: 14cm
  • Wingspan: 24cm
  • Weight: 34g
  • Average lifespan: 3 years

House Sparrows are familiar birds of towns and cities, parks, gardens and farmland. House Sparrows feed on all sorts, including buds, grains, nuts and scraps, and will visit bird-tables and feeders.

They live in colonies and nest in holes or crevices in buildings, among ivy or other bushes, and in nestboxes; they’ll use a variety of materials to make their nest, from string to paper. Both parents will incubate the eggs (between three and five) and raise the young. House Sparrows are residents in the UK, but may disperse from their breeding grounds to feed on nearby farmland and grassland in winter.

How to Identify

Male House Sparrows are streaky-brown above and grey below. They have chestnut wings with white wingbars, a black bib (the size of which indicates their status) and a grey cap. Females and juveniles are a drab brown. Males can be distinguished from Tree Sparrows by their grey crown and grey cheeks without a black spot.

Where to Find

Widespread.

How People Can Help

Once a common and opportunistic bird of man-made habitats, the House Sparrow is declining at an alarming rate both in gardens and the wider countryside. A lack of winter stubble on farmland, decreasing numbers of insects due to increased use of pesticides and an increase in predation by domestic pets, have all taken their toll. But The Wildlife Trusts are helping to protect House Sparrows by working closely with farmers, landowners and developers to promote wildlife-friendly practices. You can help too: food, water and nesting places (boxes or natural planting) for them.

Did you know?

Originally native to Europe and Asia, House Sparrows have been introduced by man to every continent apart from Antarctica, being found from Buenos Aires to Alaska, from New Zealand to Cape Town. They are now the most widespread birds in the world.

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