The birds commonly known as sparrows can be found all over Europe. Plants and insects are their main source of food. The sparrow belongs to the family of weaver birds. The house sparrow is the most well known of the sparrow species. There are around 36 species of sparrow found all over the world. Sparrows grow to about 15cm in length. They have quite a large head and a strong beak. The males are more decoratively marked than the female house sparrow. Sparrows are found in towns and their songs are heard often! They build their nests in wall niches, tree caves, under bricks or even outside in bushes.
The house sparrow is one of the most common birds, and is often seen in most gardens and parks. A group of house sparrows is called a ‘host’ or ‘tribe’. You might see these brave birdies hopping around your garden looking for food. They are gregarious characters which can seen and heard all year round twittering incessantly. You might catch a house sparrow bathing in sand or dust as it’s an important part of the birds’ hygiene, and helps them to get rid of annoying parasites hiding in their feathers.
The sparrow is easily identified by its brown plumage and black pointed beak. It is one of the most easily recognised birds and one of the best known. Male sparrows have a grey cap, cheeks and under-parts. They have a black throat and breast and have black colouring between the bill and eyes. Female house sparrows look very different to the male sparrow. They are much duller than males with greyish-brown plumage and have no patterns on their head. The young of the house sparrow looks very similar to females, as is the case with many birds.
House sparrows nest in areas that are close to towns, villages and farms. They usually nest near human settlements. They can even been known to sneak through broken guttering and build a nest inside houses! They are well deserving of the name House Swallow. These birds will even take over the abandoned nest of other birds. They mostly they build their own nests in manmade structures, for example in holes in walls and under eaves.
Several males may court one female in a group display by chirping loudly. They do this with drooping wings and cocked tails. Unfortunately for the female, if she flies away the entire group will relentlessly pursue her. Once they find their mate, most house sparrows will stay with this mate for life. They have been known to stay in one good nesting site for a few years. They normally produce 2-3 broods of 3-6 eggs and then incubate these eggs for 12-14 days.
Most people will have seen a tribe of house sparrows greedily foraging on the ground in their garden, mainly in the winter. They are aggressive and dominate feeders trying their best to scare off and intimidate other birds. This is so they will have all the food available to themselves. They have a varied diet and will eat just about anything including seeds, insects, fruits, berries and any old scraps of food.
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