House Sparrow

(Passer domesticus)

Alert Status: Red - 69% decline
Identifying Features: Male has a chestnut brown back with black streaks and a grey crown; female is paler and without the grey crown.
Average Length: 14 - 15 cm
Average Lifespan: 3 Years
Average Wingspan: 21 - 25 cm
Beak type: Seeds

Feeding: Natural. seeds, nuts, berries, buds, insects and scraps
How to feed: Bird tables
What to feed: Sunflower hearts, black sunflower seeds & seed mixtures

Nesting: Untidy, domed or cup shaped, but will use next boxes with a hole or communal nestboxes as well.
Where to see: Widespread across the UK. Towns, villages, farmland & countryside

House Sparrow by david m, Xeno-canto
00:00 / 02:40

Fascinating facts!

The Sparrow 

Tree and house sparrows are closely related. They are similar but for the slightly smaller stature of the tree sparrow and for the chestnut brown patch on the cheek. Tree sparrows have a solid chestnut-brown head and nape, whilst house sparrows (males at least) have a light grey crown. Interestingly, the house sparrow’s beak is a yellow-brown colour in winter, however, it turns black in the warmer months!


    Males and female tree sparrows look the same and mate for life.  Male sparrows dominate over females during fall and winter, while females dominate during summer and spring.

    The size of the house sparrow's male's bib indicates the dominance of the male bird in its community. The bigger the bib, the more dominant. Researchers have found that females are more attracted to males with larger bibs.

    House sparrows are more opportunist eaters than tree sparrows, feeding on seeds but also on scraps from bins and picnic benches.

    House sparrows will frequently take over the nests of house martins, while in many parts of Europe they often nest in colonies in the base of white storks’ nests.

    The house sparrow’s flight averages 45.5 km/h (28.3 mph) and about 15 wingbeats per second.


    On the ground, the sparrow typically hops rather than walks. When nervous, they flick their tails to ease out the tension.

    Although not a water bird, the house sparrow can swim if it needs to, such as to escape a predator.

    Originally native to Europe and Asia, house sparrows have colonised every continent except Antarctica and can be found from Buenos Aires to Alaska, New Zealand to Cape Town. They are now the most widespread birds in the world.

    A house sparrow is a symbol of loyalty in Japan owing to its friendly nature and ability to live in groups.

    The sparrow symbolizes insignificance in the New Testament of the Bible and is associated with loneliness in the Old Testament.

    Many years ago "Sparrow Pie" was known famously for its aphrodisiac properties. It was a common dish back in the day, enjoyed by many!

    In folklore, it used to be told that should a house sparrow enter one's house, there would most certainly be impending death. The only solution was to kill the bird to prevent the death. In a more macabre version of this tale, if a person were to catch the bird in their house and do nothing, they would surely die.