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House Sparrow

Passer domesticus ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: PASSERIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

House Sparrow Photo

You can find House Sparrows most places where there are houses (or other buildings), and few places where there aren’t. Along with two other introduced species, the European Starling and the Rock Pigeon, these are some of our most common birds. Their constant presence outside our doors makes them easy to overlook, and their tendency to displace native birds from nest boxes causes some people to resent them. But House Sparrows, with their capacity to live so intimately with us, are just beneficiaries of our own success.

Merlin Bird ID app
Birds of North America Online

Songs

  • Song, monotonous series of cheep or cheerup notes
      No sound? Click here
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

House Sparrows have a rather simple song of one or a series of cheep or chirrup notes. It’s mainly given by males, who repeat it incessantly during much of the year to announce that they possess a nest and to attract females. Females only rarely use this song, typically to attract a new mate after losing one.

Calls

Male and female House Sparrows make single cheep notes to indicate submissiveness in flocks, or between pairs as part of courting or copulation. Females make a short chattering sound when chasing off other females, or when her mate approaches.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Many people regard House Sparrows as undesirables in their yards, since they aren't native and can be a menace to native species. House Sparrows are so closely entwined with people's lives that you probably will find them around your home even without feeding them. They are frequent visitors to backyard feeders, where they eat most kinds of birdseed, especially millet, corn, and sunflower seed. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

Find This Bird

The best way to find a House Sparrow is to visit an urban area and watch for a conspicuous, tame sparrow hopping on the ground (it might help to bring a sandwich or some birdseed). You can easily attract them with food and they may feed out of your hand. In the countryside, look out for bright, clean versions of the city House Sparrow around barns, stables, and storehouses.

Get Involved

Why Did House Sparrow Numbers Rise, then Fall? Citizen-science data point to competition with House Finches.

You can help scientists learn more about this species by participating in the Celebrate Urban Birds! project.

Keep track of the House Sparrows at your feeder with Project FeederWatch

Help us find out how House Sparrow populations are doing in mid-winter by participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count

Report nesting activities of House Sparrows to the NestWatch citizen-science project. To deter House Sparrows from taking over nest boxes intended for native birds, consider the options noted in the NestWatcher's Resource Center.

You Might Also Like

House Sparrows: Complex and Intriguing? (BirdScope, Winter 2004)

Can We Have Your Sparrows? (BirdScope, Winter 2004)

The Trouble with House Sparrows (BirdScope, Winter 2004)

Sparrow Spectrum (BirdScope, Winter 2004)

Lessons from the Rattus rattus of the Bird World (BirdScope, Winter 2004)

Sparrows that Open Doors (BirdScope, Winter 2004)

All About Birds blog, Not Just Sparrows and Pigeons: Cities Harbor 20 Percent of World’s Bird Species, April 29, 2014.

FeederWatcher’s Notebook: In autumn, male House Sparrows are “disguised” as females