The house sparrow is a small, brown-beige-grey songbird. He is also called a sparrow.
What does a house sparrow look like?
House sparrows are songbirds and belong to the sparrow family. The house sparrow males are brown, beige, and dark-colored on the back. The top of the head is brown to rust-red, the cheeks and the belly are gray, a brown band runs from the eyes to the neck and they wear a dark bib on their throat.
The females and the young sparrows are slightly less colored. And during the molt from August to October, the males are also quite inconspicuous. House sparrows are about 14.5 centimeters long, the wingspan is 24 to 25 centimeters and they weigh 25 to 40 grams.
Where do house sparrows live?
The home of the house sparrows was originally in the Mediterranean area and in the steppe regions of the Near East. House sparrows are found almost everywhere in the world today. The Europeans brought them with them to America and Australia, for example, where they have now spread everywhere.
Only in East and Southeast Asia, on the equator, in Iceland, and in the very cold areas of Scandinavia are there no sparrows.
House sparrows do best where they can find old houses or farms with ample nesting sites. Besides niches and crevices in houses, they also inhabit hedges or dense trees. Today, sparrows also settle at sausage stands, in schoolyards, or in beer gardens – wherever they can be sure that a few breadcrumbs will fall for them.
What types of house sparrows are there?
There are 36 different species of sparrows around the world. However, only two close relatives of the house sparrow live here: the tree sparrow and the snow finch. There are many different breeds of house sparrows.
How old do house sparrows get?
House sparrows usually only live for four or five years. However, ringed sparrows that were 13 or 14 years old were also observed.
How do house sparrows live?
Wherever people live, there are also house sparrows: for more than 10,000 years, sparrows have lived where people live. They are therefore also called “culture followers”.
At the beginning of the last century, small birds were still very common. Today, however, you can observe them less and less: this is because they are finding fewer and fewer suitable places to breed. While the house sparrows used to find plenty of space for their nests in old houses, today there are hardly any niches and crevices in the new buildings in which a sparrow’s nest can find a footing.
House sparrows are pretty sloppy when it comes to building their nests: males and females put blades of grass, woolen threads, and pieces of paper together to form an untidy nest, which they pad with feathers. They place this nest in holes in the wall, under roof tiles, or behind window shutters just where they can find a suitable, protected niche.
If they find enough space, several sparrows will build their nests close together, forming a small colony. Sparrows are pretty smart. They will also find the smallest opening in barns or houses, which they will slip through to look for food. Sparrows are very sociable animals: they feed at the same food sources, bathe together in the dust, water, and sun.
After the breeding season, they travel in large swarms and chirp in competition. During this time they also spend the night together in trees and bushes. With us, the sparrows can be found all year round, in areas with a colder climate they live as migratory birds. By the way: The name dirty sparrow comes from the fact that house sparrows regularly bathe in dust or sand. They need this to care for their feathers.
Friends and foes of the house sparrow
House sparrows have long been hunted by people with nets, traps, poison, or guns because it was believed that the small grain-eaters ate away a large part of the harvest. What the sparrows stole from the granaries used to make up only a tiny part of the amount of grain. However, if they occur in large numbers, they can cause damage to fruit trees with ripe fruit, such as cherry trees.
But house sparrows also have natural enemies: stone martens, sparrowhawks, barn owls and kestrels prey on sparrows. And of course, the cats catch a house sparrow from time to time.