House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
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Most people will have seen a tribe of House Sparrows rowdily foraging on the ground in their garden, especially in winter. They are aggressive and dominate feeders trying their best to prevent other birds from accessing any food that’s available. They have a diverse diet and will eat just about anything including seeds, insects and larvae, fruits, berries and food scraps.
A little brown bird with a short pointy black beak, the House Sparrow is one of the best known and easily identified birds in the UK. Male House Sparrows are recognised by their grey crown, cheeks and under parts, and black throat, upper breast and between the bill and eyes. Female House Sparrows look very different and are much duller than males with grey-brown plumage and no black head patterns. Juvenile House Sparrows look very similar to females.
House Sparrows nest in close vicinity to human settlements, in towns, villages and farms. They can even be found in house lofts where they sneak in through a bit of broken guttering. They will use other birds’ abandoned nests but mostly they build their own in manmade structures, holes in walls and under eaves, making an untidy retreat of stems, stalks, paper and other rubbish. Several males may court a female in a group display chirping loudly with drooping wings and cocked tails, and if the female flies off she will be relentlessly pursued by the whole gang. Once they find a companion most House Sparrows stay in pairs for life and will use a good nesting site for several years running. They typically produce 2-3 broods of 3-6 pale eggs and incubate these eggs for 12-14 days.