House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Male House Sparrow

About the Bird

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Seen/Heard at
Decorah, Decorah North

House Sparrows are ground foragers. They eat mostly grains and seeds, including corn, oats, wheat, sorghum, ragweed, crabgrass, buckwheat, millet, milo, and sunflower seeds. They supplement their diet with insects during the summer and feed insects to nestlings.

House Sparrows breed from early March through mid-September. They nest in cavities, including the interlaced sticks of bald eagle nests. Male and female sparrows stuff the cavity with coarse dried vegetation, which they line with feathers, string, paper, and dried grasses to create a nest cup. House sparrows lay one to eight eggs per clutch and may produce up to four broods per year. The female incubates eggs for 10-14 days and young stay in the nest for 10-14 days before fledging. Both parents care for young. To learn more, visit Cornell’s website.

House Sparrows are not native to the United States and are not related to other North American sparrows. It’s widely believed that they were first imported to help control foliage-eating inchworms in New York City parks. You can read more about that here:

Bird Range Maps of North America
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003.
Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA. Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy – Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International – CABS, World Wildlife Fund – US, and Environment Canada – WILDSPACE.
Web Link:
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Birds of North America:
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General Description
Male House Sparrows have gray crowns, white cheeks, a black bib, and chestnut borders on their crowns and necks. Females have a gray-brown crown, a buffy eye streak, and an unmarked throat and breast. House Sparrows are chunkier and have a larger, rounded head, shorter tail, and stouter bill than most American sparrows.

House Sparrows do not migrate. They can be seen and heard in Decorah year-round.

Length: 5.9-6.7 in/15-17 cm
Wingspan: 7.5-9.8 in/19-25 cm
Weight: 0.9-1.1 oz/27-30 g

Wing Design
Elliptical. Optimized for bursts of fast, tightly controlled flight. Excellent at taking off quickly, maneuvering through branches, and avoiding predators.
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Range Map

Range Map