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House Sparrow


Noisy and gregarious, these cheerful exploiters of man's rubbish and wastefulness, have managed to colonise most of the world.

The House Sparrow is the ultimate opportunist, but is now struggling to survive in the UK. They are clearly declining in both gardens and the wider countryside and their recent declines have earned them a place on the Red List.

They used to be most common in gardens, but one nest has been found 600m down a coal mine shaft in Yorkshire!. The diet is made up of Seeds, also shoots, berries, scraps, nestlings mostly insects, mostly on ground, but will hover momentarily.

Quick Facts

15-17 days

13-15 days

Clutch Size
4-5 eggs

Egg Weight
2.9 g

Egg Size
22x16 mm

First Record
8th Century

Near man, Mostly in Towns. Also common in: Villages



14 cm

Status in UK
Resident Breeder

Conservation Status UK

Number in Britain
13.4 million (sharp decline)

Number of broods
2 or 3

First clutches laid
Late March

Age at First Breeding
1 year

Typical Lifespan
3 years

Maximum Recorded Age
12 years, 0 months

  • Some cities have lost three quarters of its sparrow population between 1994 and 2000.  They were once one of the commonest birds in Britain.
  • In some built-up areas the population has fallen by 99%.
  • The deterioration of the population is a mystery, although there has been some probable theories put forward. They include the use of mobile phones.
  • Young birds need a high percentage of insects in their diet when they first hatch, but as adults they are vegetarian.
  • In the late 1960’s it was found that sparrows soon learned new feeding habits; taking food from the feeders.
  • It takes just 13 days for incubation and just two weeks before the young leave the nest.
  • They frequently nest in colonies.
  • Most pairs of sparrows raise two broods some regularly raise three.
  • Flocks in built-up areas move to the countryside in summer to feed on the harvests.

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