The House Sparrow is one of the most common species of birds in the world and are present almost anywhere. House Sparrows are so common that sometimes people even overlook their existence. You can find these chunky small brown birds in places that have buildings and a few places that don’t.
About House Sparrows
House Sparrows have been living with human beings in a very close-knit manner. The general lack of fear that these birds have for humans and the abundance in which they are found make these birds the perfect model for research and studies. There have been around 5000 studies that feature House Sparrows as the studied species.
House Sparrows have the tendencies to displace other native birds from bird boxes and fight against them to show dominance over the bird’s seeds in the feeders which make these birds a cause of resentment for bird feeders. But House Sparrows with their capacity to live intimately with humans are beneficial for humans in their own success.
Members of the family Passeridae, House Sparrows are related to other varieties of Sparrows like Tree Sparrows, Black-throated Sparrows, Harri’s Sparrows, and Dickcissel.
These birds are a low concern and there is no known danger to their habitats as they usually tend to live in man-made structures like concrete buildings and houses. Want to know more about these cute and chunky but mischievous birds? Let’s find out.
● House Sparrow Photos, Color Pattern, Song
● House Sparrow Eating Behavior, Habitat
● House Sparrow Range and Migration, Nesting
GET KIDS BIRD WATCHING
House Sparrow Color Pattern
House Sparrows have a variety of color patterns depending upon the ages and sexes of the bird. The overall color of the House Sparrow is a bright color and more inclined towards the brown scale. The above part is brown with black streaks, the head is gray, the cheeks are white with a rufous neck and a black bill.
Although in the urban areas, the color might seem a bit paler. The female birds are paler buffy brown with dingy gray-brown underparts. Their backs are noticeably streaked with buff, brown, and black.
Description and Identification
Unlike most North American Sparrows, House Sparrows are chunkier with fuller chests, small heads, very stout bills, and short tails.
House Sparrows are pretty noisy and fluttery. They hop a lot and forage seeds, bread crumbs, and insects. These birds are commonly seen going in and out of their nest holes that are usually in buildings, houses, behind shop signs and traffic lights, or hanging around parking lots waiting for the occasional bread crumbs and insects on car grills.
The differences between the male and female birds of the species are very evident. Male House Sparrows are chunkier and full-breasted. The color is a darker shade of brown above with marvelous streaks of black and white. Breeding males have black bills, gray crowns, a patch of black around and below the bill that reaches up to the chest, white cheeks, and chestnut necks. Whereas, nonbreeding males are lighter in color with a noticeably yellow bill and lack the chestnut neck. They are also more streaked down on the back with buff and black and have a grayish underbelly. The female birds are similar to the non-breeding males in color. Significantly streaked on the back with buff, black and white, buff cheeks, grayish-brown underbellies, black bills, and brown crowns are the identifiers for the female House Sparrows. The gray crown of the breeding male bird gets darker and becomes black with aging and
signifies more dominance over others.
House Sparrow Song
House Sparrows can be very chirpy and noisy. The male birds sing often, but females sing too on some rare occasions. The song is mainly a simple single note or a series of Cheeps or Chirrups. Usually sung by the males, the song is to announce their possession of the nest and attract females. The female birds rarely use this song, mainly to attract new mates after losing one.
Other calls include singular notes of cheep to indicate submissiveness towards the flock. It is also used between pairs as a part of courting. Another sound that the female birds may make is the chattering sound while chasing away other females or when her mate approaches.
House Sparrow Size
The size of the tiny House Sparrows is almost the same as the Song Sparrow or the Dark-eyed Junco but stockier than them. Both the sexes are almost the same size and weight even though the fuller breasts of the breeding males make them look bigger than they actually are.
House Sparrows measure around 5.9 to 6.7 inches in length with a wingspan of 7.5 to 9.8 inches. The average weight is somewhere around 27-30 grams.
House Sparrow Behavior
As cute as they look, House Sparrows are actually pretty aggressive and mischievous behaviorally. They are quite noisy and flutter around a lot. Instead of walking on the ground, these birds hop.
House Sparrows like to bathe a lot; therefore, they regularly bathe in bird baths. Apart from a water bath, House Sparrows also take regular dust and sand baths. The birds make small dips in the ground and through dust or sand on themselves with their wings. House Sparrows can get pretty aggressive if their personal dip is approached by someone.
House Sparrows are very social and usually live in flocks. For living in such closely knitted groups, these birds have developed ways to assert dominance and submission. The nervous birds flick their tails while the aggravated birds crouch, shove their head forward and roll wings forward while holding their tail erect. This can intensify to a display with wings lifted, a fanned tail, and beak opened.
Older male birds that have more amounts of black patches on the throats and crowns dominate the other younger male with lighter colors. Wearing a sign of dominance helps avoid unnecessary conflicts thus saving energy.
House Sparrows are pretty courteous when it comes to attracting females. The male birds display to a potential mate by fluffing the chest, fanning tail, open beak, and holding their wings partially open while hoping stiffly in front of them. In flocks, the males dominate females during fall and winters, but the females assert themselves during spring and summers.
What do House Sparrows Eat?
House Sparrows are omnivores in nature. These birds primarily eat seeds, grains, and livestock feed. In urban areas, these birds even feed on discarded food. House Sparrows eat crop grains too including corn, oats, wheat, sorghum, and millet. They readily eat bird seeds like sunflower seeds and milo. The urban birds visit bird feeders regularly and eat bread crumbs and commercial bird seeds.
In summers, House Sparrows eat insects as well as feed them to their hatchlings. They catch insects in the air, from car grills, and even visit light sources like street lamps and bulbs in the dusk to catch some big juicy bugs and insects.
House Sparrow Habitat
House Sparrows don’t fear human presence much and have been living closely with people for ages. These birds can be found in suburban and urban areas where there are concrete structures such as buildings.
House Sparrows prefer to build nests in the nooks and corners of building terraces and windows where it seems a bit enclosed. They also make nests in construction holes of buildings, behind store billboards, or even attics of houses. House Sparrows also respond well to nest boxes and even compete with native birds for the boxes. Rarely, these birds can also be found living in the cavities of trees in the absence of buildings.
Range and Migration
House Sparrow’s ranges cover most of North America, Central America, southern South America, Southern Africa, parts of West Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and most of the islands of the world. These little birds have also expanded their range to the Eurasian region considerably since the 1850s.
House Sparrows are considered to be non-migratory and travel only a few kilometers in their whole life. However limited migrations happen in all regions. Some younger birds disperse to longer distances while the mountain birds migrate to lower elevations in the winters. There are some sub-species that are migratory and to prepare for migration they put on weight.
House Sparrow Lifecycle
House Sparrows make their nests in cavities of trees or buildings. Male and female birds make the nest together. The female bird lays 1-8 eggs of approximately 0.8 inches in length and 0.6 inches of breadth. The female incubates the eggs and the incubation period is nearly 10-14 days. These eggs are usually light white to greenish or bluish-white dotted with gray or brown. The hatchlings are completely naked and clumsy with bright pink skin and closed eyes. The nestling period for these little ones is 10-14 days. House Sparrows are fast breeders and their brood size can go up to 4
per breeding season.
House Sparrows nest in holes of buildings and other structures including street lights, traffic signals, store billboards, gas station roofs, attics, etc. They sometimes build nests in the vines climbing buildings. Rarely enough these birds make nests in the cavities of old trees. House Sparrows also compete for nest boxes that are originally intended for native birds like Swallows and Bluebirds.
Both the male bird and the female bird in a pair together build the nest using coarse dried vegetation like grass or hay till the hole is stuffed. Then the birds use finer materials like feathers, string, paper, and pieces of clothes for the inner lining. Being very social and sticking to the flocks, these birds often make nests next to each other sharing walls.
Anatomy of a House Sparrow
House Sparrows are quite small in size but have pretty stout features that make them stronger and more resilient than a lot of birds of a similar size. The females appear slightly smaller than the males. These birds have small but strong legs with curled toes and nails for good grip. Such leg structure helps them hop around and even hang. House Sparrows have rounded and stout bills to facilitate opening up seeds like sunflower seeds. These birds have small round heads, small bodies, and short tails helping them to flutter around at a pretty quick pace.
Even with their small size and weak looks, House Sparrows are very aggressive and manage to defend themselves and their flocks against any potential dangers and compete successfully with other birds for nest holes and food.
House Sparrows are known to aggressively defend their nest holes. In 1889 a scientist reported that House Sparrows attacked 70 different species of birds alone. Sometimes they also evict birds like Eastern Bluebirds, Purple Martins, and Tree Swallows from their nest holes.
The high and fast reproduction rate, adaptability to any habitat, the capability of feeding on literally any food, aggression to defend their flock and the social nature of these birds make them one the toughest and the most resilient bird species in the world. However, because of the rapid industrialization of farms, the population of House Sparrows has declined a little bit.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
- Kids Bird Watching Monthly Subscription$10.00 / month
- Kid & Adult Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription$10.00 / month and a $72.00 sign-up fee
- Kids Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription$10.00 / month and a $19.00 sign-up fee
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying House Sparrows
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing House Sparrows are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
House Sparrow Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and House Sparrows. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders For House Sparrows
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for House Sparrows
There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. If you spend a little extra money on bird houses, it will be well worth every penny and they’ll look great.