About the SpeciesThe Indian house sparrow (Passer domesticus indicus) belongs to the Passeridae family and is common in urban areas and human settlements. They are small passerines with short and heavy bills which have strong legs and hop to move about on the ground. They do not posses a true song and instead communicate with chirps. The female is dull and pale in comparison to the male.
SignificanceSparrows are example of commensalisms as these are found in human inhabited areas. Their abundance indicates the health of habitat on which they depend.
Distribution and HabitatOne of the most urbanised bird, they feed on grains and are a species of the open country. Within India they are found throughout the country till the Assam valley and the lower parts of south Assam hills. They are replaced by the Eurasian tree sparrow in the later as well as the hills of Eastern Himalayas. Altitude wise they are reported till 1200m in Sikkim and up to 1000m in the hills of Peninsular India. There are several races; of which indicus is the one that rarely migrates.
They are monogamous with both the male and female helping in nesting activities, which are normally found in small crevices of traditional Indian homes, ground, banks and some times in trees.
PopulationThough the bird is abundant in the areas of its occurrence, in recent years it has seen a sharp decline with fewer sightings reported from urban areas. The population size of this species is very large and is no where near the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion of IUCN’s red data list (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). Hence it is placed under the Least Concern category.
ThreatsThe use of pesticides and the changing style of house construction from the traditional mud architecture that had crevices letting the birds breed in them, to heavily concretised and glass structures that leave very little space for the birds to breed has been cited as a reason for the decline of their population. Also, recently their have been reports of this species being affected by radiation from cell phone towers.
BirdLife International 2009. Passer domesticus. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 12 January 2012.
Rasmussen, P.C. & Anderton J.C.2005. Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide. Vols. 1 and 2. Smithsonian Institution and Lynx Edicions, Washington, D.C. and Barcelona