English sparrow

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English sparrow

English sparrow or house sparrow, small bird, Passer domesticus, common throughout most of the world. English sparrows are 4 to 7 in. (10–18 cm) long, with short, stout bills. The male is brown with black streaks above, grayish white below; it has white cheek patches and a black bib from bill to chest. The female is dull brown above and brownish white below.

English sparrows are highly gregarious birds found in cities and settled rural areas; they are rarely seen away from human habitation. Chiefly seedeaters, they are agricultural pests, but they also eat insects that are harmful to crops. The house sparrow builds messy nests of grass and debris almost anywhere—under eaves, in drains, and in ventilator holes—and this has contributed to its reputation as an undesirable bird. It is extremely prolific, raising at least two broods a year; the clutch consists of four to seven olive-speckled white eggs.

Native to the Old World, the bird was first introduced into the United States about 1850 to combat cankerworms, and it rapidly became widespread. Aggressive as well as prolific, it has largely replaced many native birds in urban areas. Unlike the native North American species called sparrows, which belong to the finch family, the English sparrow is a member of the Old World weaverbird family. It is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Ploceidae.


See study by J. D. Summers-Smith (1963).

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References in periodicals archive ?
Waldorf has published a book entitled Health Hazards From Pigeons, Starlings and English Sparrows and created a website www.birdcleanup.com to alert the public to the health hazards pest birds cause when they nest on a building's roof or in or near its HVAC systems.
Don and I had grown up together, beginning in the first grade, and we had hunted English sparrows with our BB guns together, had shot our bows together, had fished together.
At that time, English sparrows and European starlings (introduced in the United States in the 1800's) began competing with native bluebirds for nesting sites, and the bluebirds often lost.
It prohibits the take of basically every species of bird except starlings, pigeons, and English sparrows. These three species are considered pest birds, non-native to the U.S.
"The launch of www.birdcleanup.com is to raise public awareness about a very serious health problem that affects everyone--especially those who spend significant time in any high-rise building," said Phil Waldorf, president of Bell-Environmental Services, who has also written a book about the subject entitled, Health Hazards From Pigeons, Starlings and English Sparrows.
Listed by DEC as a "species of special concern," the bluebird in New York began to dwindle in population around the turn of the century when English sparrows and European starlings introduced in the United States competed with the native bluebirds for nesting sites, including the cavities of dead trees.