House Sparrow: Identification Key and 7 Interesting Facts You May Not Know

We are all conversant with the chirpy house sparrows as they are seen everywhere, near your homes and other buildings. No other bird is as intimated with humans as these sociable house sparrows are and this association is their simple success formula. They are found in both urban areas and the rural locations. They are more active in winters and quite belligerent when it comes to defending their nests from other native species. The species found in Eurasia and North Africa are native sparrows and have been brought to so many other areas all over the world. The appearance of these most abundant songbirds is distinctive from the other North American native sparrows.

Size and Shape

These doughty Sparrows are brown in color with black smudges all over their back. With the buffy lower part, these sparrows appear to have shorter legs and thicker beaks when compared to the native species. They have buffy eye stripe drawn across the back of their neck and chestnut nuchal regions. Males can be distinguished from female sparrows as they have white cheeks and black badge and the size of males is also larger. 5 to the 6-inch long bird, has the wings with the length of 9 inches and weighs around 28.5 gram. Sometimes, people mix these house sparrow with other seed-eating birds.


Plumage color of these sparrows varies between the different shades of brown and gray. Both the sexes show strong distinctions in their appearances such as the dark gray crown in males, starting from above of the bill and spreading towards the back. In the fresh nonbreeding plumage, the males become duller with the bill getting darker and the feathers showing white tips. On the other hand, females do not expose any crown, and in breeding plumage, the brownish-grey bill starts getting darker. During the first year of young sparrows, they cannot easily be differentiated from the adult sparrows.House Sparrow on branch


There are variations in the vocalization of these songbird house sparrows. They give the different chirping sounds in various situations. The notes such as chirrup, ts chip, and Philip are used when the sparrows have to make contact with other birds or when they want to reach the females for pairing. Chattering sounds like “Chur-churr-r” are heard when they get aggressive about their nest territory. In dangerous situations, when they have instincts of a predator nearby, the call they make is recorded as a query. Shrill calls are also made which they may make when they are in pain.


House sparrow population has been divided into two groups i.e. indices group and domestic group. Then they have further subspecies that vary in their appearance and habitat. The birds of the former group appear to be different in the color of cheeks and the crown from the latter group. The birds the indices group has the smaller beak and longer badge. There is a variation in the underparts of these birds, some have pale, and some have the darker part. The cheek color also varies from gray to white. Some species have distinct white supercilium. A slight difference in size can also be seen.

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Habitat and Distribution

House Sparrows are one of the most abundantly present birds in the world. Their habitation and cultivation are closely associated with human beings. The unique adaptive property makes it easier for this wild bird to survive in almost all parts of the world, except for dense forest which they do not inhabit. Although it can adapt to varying climatic changes, it prefers drier conditions, especially in moist tropical climates.

Being the native in Eurasian and North Africa, this exotic species of North American was first introduced there in 1851. Later they had been added to the many other countries, and they are found in every country of this world. Migration is not one of their activities as their living habitat are limited to places where they belong.House sparrow bathing with splashes


The house sparrows have a gregarious nature which makes them a very social bird. They are always found in flocks during feeding, bathing in dust or showering in the water. Their social life also includes Social Singing in the bushes. The females, despite their smaller size, show dominance at the feeding spots and during the reproduction period, they even fight for males. They prefer cavities to live in and sleep with their bills tucked underneath the wings. They breed fast, and their breeding capability enhances with age. They roost in a community and produce much of chirping before and after they join in for the roost. Their eating habits are very simple. They usually feed on the seeds of grain but are very opportunists, eating whatever the food at hand. In the case of limited food sources, they may be seen searching for food in the garbage containers. The females incubate the eggs, and the male safeguards them.


House sparrows show a higher level of mortality rate, about 21-26% of the young makes it to the next breeding season, which lessens with age. Their recorded lifespan is around 18 years. The ratio of males is a little more than females.

  • Predation

House Sparrows, unfortunately, are the prey of many kinds of predators mainly cats, birds of prey and even humans. In Europe this little bird is the most frequent victim of roadkill, frequently found dead on the roads.

  • Parasites

House sparrows host some parasites, which hardly harms an adult sparrow. Top on the list of mites is the Proctophyllode; common flea is Argus reflexes whereas the most common bug on the home sparrow includes Ceratophyllus gallinae. Some lice also feed on House sparrow’s body. Chewing lice, men acanthus lice feed on feathers and blood.

  • Diseases

The bacterial pathogens are closely related to human beings. Salmonella is the most common disease, and it infects around 14% of the house sparrows. They also fall prey to avian pox and malaria. The house sparrow is a ‘reservoir host’ when it comes to diseases, as most of the diseases of sparrows are present in humans and cattle.

7 Interesting Facts You May Not KnowSmall wooden house on tree surrounding by house sparrows

There are some interesting facts about these aggressive and social sparrows that you may not have come across.

  1. Sparrows are one of those first birds that were given scientific names. They have been given different names such as English sparrows. This is called by this name correctly in North America. These birds get their name changed as Indian sparrows when talked about those found in Asian parts or India.
  2. However, house sparrows are found in almost all the areas of the world, but they are native to only Eurasia and North Africa and were introduced to North America for the first time. New York City was their residence when they were introduced in 1851.
  3. These birds are not protected today as they are killed on the large scale by people for creating nuisance, but in 1883, law enforced in Texas disallowed any killing of sparrows.
  4. These English sparrows have been there in North America since the 19th After being introduced, the species spread all over the other parts of the country such as San Francisco.
  5. An interesting fact of house sparrow is its ability to swim, although they are not even related to any water birds. These birds swim fast if the predators are chasing them.
  6. Being an aggressive creature, it is not hard for the house sparrows to protect themselves from the native birds. They can injure the different birds when it comes to their nesting territory. Once a report showed that they attacked 70 other species and were also popular to get the other bird’s species evicted from their nest by attacking them. In the opposite case, it is very rare that the other birds attack them.
  7. Despite the fact that the House Sparrows are carnivores, they eat a variety of food including plants and it is also said that they can consume 800+ different foods. One benefit of their eating habits is that they eat some insects that are harmful to us.


These friendly and social house sparrows are the most prevalent species that love to live among humans by making nests in the human home dwellings and also near the remote agricultural outposts. Their flight is higher as compared to the natural kinds due to their continued flapping. They are not only cute singing birds but also an aggressive creature that can attack other birds when they feel threatened. Although the sparrows are helpful in eliminating the harmful insect their aggression toward other birds in the house cause resentment to the house owners, and they take measures to get rid of them.

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