House sparrows can be found across many continents and are frequently spotted in UK gardens. These bold birds are beautiful to watch as they socialise, sharing space at water baths and feeding in groups alongside other birds. They also practise social singing and can be regularly heard chirruping in garden hedges.
However, the house sparrow has actually suffered a decrease in population over the last two decades. According to the RSPB in 2018, the population is starting to recover now and sightings across the UK are rising again, especially as they live in close proximity to humans.
Native to the UK, Europe, Africa and much of Asia, they have also been introduced to countries such as the USA. House sparrows are resident in the UK year round and are regular visitors to garden bird feeders. They can be found in habitats ranging from countryside to city centres.
Scientific name: Passer domesticus
Length: 14cm - 15cm
Weight: 24g - 38g
Wing Span: 21cm - 25.5cm
Beak: short and chunky, specialised for seed eating
Female: brown head with a buff/straw-coloured stripe behind the eye, buff brown and black striped upperparts, grey/brown underparts
Male: grey head, white cheeks and a black bib, brown upperparts with darker brown streaks and light-coloured underparts
House sparrows live in colonies and nest around buildings using holes, crevices, shrubs and nest boxes. Their nests are made of dry grass, straw, feathers, hair and even string.
House sparrows will consume a variety of food including nuts, seeds, food scraps, invertebrates, flower buds and grains.
Nesting season occurs from April to August and multiple clutches per year are common. In urban areas, chicks born later in the year may not survive, as insects and worms to eat become scarcer during autumn.
Females lay one egg per day and lay between two and five eggs in one clutch. Both male and female sparrows take turns to incubate the eggs. Hatching occurs after around 14 days and the chicks are then guarded in the nest for six to eight days. They fledge around two weeks after hatching and will gather with other young house sparrows in large flocks.
Once the chicks have fledged, the female may lay the next clutch of eggs within just a few days and the whole process begins again.