House sparrow | WWF India

House sparrow

Key Facts

  • Common Name

    House sparrow

  • Scientific Name

    Passer domesticus

  • Population

    Unknown

  • Height

    16 cm

  • Length

    Wingspan of 21 cm

  • Weight

    25-40 gm

  • Status

    Listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List

 
	© Rajat Bhargava
A male house sparrow
© Rajat Bhargava

Characteristics

The house sparrow is not only among the most commonly found bird species in urban cities, but also the most loved. It is a small brown-coloured bird, not bigger than a tennis ball, with black streaks on its back. The male and female are easily distinguishable, not in size but in coloration. The male is dark brown, with a black bib, grey chest and white cheeks, whereas the female is light brown throughout its body, with no black bib, crown or white cheeks. It is a social species, found in groups of eight to 10, chirping and chattering to communicate with each other. True to its love for urban spaces, the house sparrow is known to nest in buildings, finding crevices and holes in walls, or at best, using the bird houses and nest boxes put out by humans in their gardens. It feeds mostly on seeds, but in the breeding season, adults feed their young with insects.

Conservation Issues

The house sparrow has evolved with humans, known only to live in close contact with us, instead of forests. For years, it has peacefully coexisted with us in our buildings and gardens, but in the last two decades, their population is on the decline in almost every city. The reasons attributed are: rapidly changing cities are no longer a suitable habitat for the house sparrow, as the new and modern designs of infrastructure does not give any room for the sparrow to nest; pollution caused by microwave towers and pesticides; the house sparrow loses its foraging grounds (natural grasslands) as the green spaces in our cities give way to more concrete constructions.

WWF-India’s Initiatives

WWF-India has been involved in raising awareness about the declining population of house sparrows. Custommade nest boxes for sparrows are distributed in various states to encourage sparrow breeding. A special study was commissioned in 2007 on the status of sparrow population in Delhi.
 
	© Rajat Bhargava
A female house sparrow
© Rajat Bhargava

Habitat and distribution

The house sparrow is widespread across the world, inhabiting every continent, except Antarctica, China and Japan. It is native to Eurasia and North Africa, and was introduced to South Africa, North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East, India and Central Asia, where its population thrived under a variety of environmental and climatic conditions. Within India, it is found throughout the country, up to the Assam valley and lower parts of the Assam hills. Towards the eastern Himalayas, the species is replaced by the Eurasian tree sparrow. It is known to stay close to human habitations, and is therefore among the most commonly found bird species in urban cities. Flocks of sparrows are a common sighting near residential colonies, gardens, farms, agricultural fields, office buildings, and even highways with fast-moving traffic.
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