The House Sparrow is typically about 16 cm (6.3 in) long, ranging from 14 to 18 cm (5.5 to 7.1 in). It is a compact bird with a full chest and a large rounded head. Its bill is stout and conical, the tail is short. Females and young birds are coloured pale brown and grey, and males have brighter black, white, and brown markings.
Habitat and Distribution
The House Sparrow originated in the Middle East and spread, along with agriculture, to most of Eurasia and parts of North Africa. The House Sparrow is strongly associated with human habitations, and can live in urban or rural settings. It typically avoids extensive woodlands, grasslands, and deserts.
It feeds mostly on the seeds of grains and weeds, but it is an opportunistic eater and commonly eats insects and many other foods.
House Sparrows prefer to nest inside cavities. The nest is usually dome shaped, though it may lack a roof in enclosed sites. It has an outer layer of stems and roots, a middle layer of dead grass and leaves, and a lining of feathers, as well as of paper and other soft materials. Clutch size is usually four to five eggs. The eggs are white, bluish-white, or greenish-white, spotted with brown or grey. Eggs hatch at the same time, after a short incubation period lasting 11-14 days.
Calls and Songs
They have a chirrup, tschilp, or philip, contact call. Young birds give a true warbling song, when in captivity. Aggressive males give a trilled version of their call, transcribed as “chur-chur-r-r-it-it-it-it”. House Sparrows give a nasal alarm call, the basic sound of which is transcribed as quer, and a shrill chree call in great distress.