sparrow

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sparrow,

common name of various small brown-and-gray perching birds. New World birds called sparrows are members of the finchfinch,
common name for members of the Fringillidae, the largest family of birds (including over half the known species), found in most parts of the world except Australia.
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 family. They were named for their resemblance to the English sparrowEnglish 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.
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 and the European tree sparrow (members of the weaverbirdweaverbird,
name for the Ploceidae, a family of Old World seed-eating birds closely resembling finches (hence the alternate name weaver finch). It includes a number of so-called goldfinches and waxbill finches that are actually weaverbirds, rather than true finches of the family
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 family), both introduced in the Americas. Members of both groups have stout, conical beaks adapted to seed eating. Among the many sparrows found in the United States are the song sparrow, the white-throated sparrow (or peabody bird), and the chipping, white-crowned, vesper, Lincoln's, fox, field, tree, and swamp sparrows. Sparrows are valuable to farmers in destroying weed seeds. Originally sparrow meant any small bird; the word appears in this sense in Greek mythology and in the Scriptures.

Bibliography

See study by J. D. Summers-Smith (1988).

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sparrow

1. any weaverbird of the genus Passer and related genera, esp the house sparrow, having a brown or grey plumage and feeding on seeds or insects
2. US and Canadian any of various North American finches, such as the chipping sparrow (Spizella passerina), that have a dullish streaked plumage
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in classic literature ?
Mary felt that she could have forgone this display of animal good temper, but seeing that Ralph, for some curious reason, took a pride in the sparrows, she bet him sixpence that he would not succeed.
His conversation was now addressed entirely to a bald cock- sparrow, who seemed bolder than the rest; and Mary took the opportunity of looking at him.
"You've heard the story of the farmer and the white sparrow'" he asked Billy, at dinner.
"Never heard of a white sparrow even," Billy answered.
Things just didn't seem to go right, till at last, one day, he heard about the wonderful white sparrow. It seems that the white sparrow comes out only just at daybreak with the first light of dawn, and that it brings all kinds of good luck to the farmer that is fortunate enough to catch it.
Of course, they wasn't a white sparrow, but by getting up early an' attendin' to things he'd been slack about before--oh, I got it all right.
I hear a song sparrow singing from the bushes on the shore -- olit, olit, olit -- chip, chip, chip, che char -- che wiss, wiss, wiss.
'Well, my good friend, have you had enough now?' 'I have had plenty of meat,' answered he, 'but I should like to have a piece of bread to eat after it.' 'Come with me then,' said the sparrow, 'and you shall soon have that too.' So she took him to a baker's shop, and pecked at two rolls that lay in the window, till they fell down: and as the dog still wished for more, she took him to another shop and pecked down some more for him.
'There,' cried the sparrow, 'thou cruel villain, thou hast killed my friend the dog.
'Not wretch enough yet!' said the sparrow. And as the carter went on with the other two horses, she again crept under the tilt of the cart, and pecked out the bung of the second cask, so that all the wine ran out.
But the sparrow sat on the outside of the window, and cried 'Carter!
One of the reasons why I have chosen this story out of Bede's History is because it contains the picture of the sparrow flitting through the firelit room.