Living Bird Magazine
Eurasian Tree SparrowPasser montanus
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Passeridae
In late April 1870, a shipment of European birds from Germany was released in St. Louis, Missouri, in order to provide familiar bird species for newly settled European immigrants. The shipment included 12 hardy Eurasian Tree Sparrows. These chestnut-capped, white-cheeked arrivals prospered in the hedges and woodlots of the region, ultimately spreading through northeastern Missouri, west-central Illinois, and southeastern Iowa. Unlike its relative, the House Sparrow, it is not a bird of cities, instead using farms and lightly wooded residential areas.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Eurasian Tree Sparrows are rather easily found in thick hedgerows, bushy parks, and around working farms and grain elevators within its range. eBird can help you find recent sightings, but be respectful of private property around farms.
- Gorrión Molinero (Spanish)
- Moineau friquet (French)
- Cool Facts
- When is a sparrow not a sparrow? The Eurasian Tree Sparrow and House Sparrow are in a different family (Passeridae) from all the rest of the sparrows in North America (Passerellidae) and are not closely related. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the body proportions and beak shapes are quite different between the two groups.
- Because North America’s Eurasian Tree Sparrows are all descended from just 12 individuals, and because it has been isolated from the Eurasian population ever since, North American birds have developed differences in size, genetics, and even song from the ancestral population in Germany.
- The Eurasian Tree Sparrow typically lives near people, but it has been displaced from urban centers and into more rural areas by its larger and more aggressive relative the House Sparrow.
- Outside of North America, the Eurasian Tree Sparrow shows considerable variation in plumage and size and has been classified into as many as 33 subspecies. The North American birds came originally from Germany and are from the most widespread subspecies, montanus.
- The oldest recorded Eurasian Tree Sparrow in North America was at least 4 years old when it was recaptured and rereleased during a banding operation in Illinois in 1972.