The Gray Sparrow, A True Citizen Of The World

The Sparrow, a true world citizen

Although the number of sparrows has decreased remarkably, they continue to be part of the urban landscape on most of the planet. Continue reading to learn about the social and lively sparrow as whose delightful behavior we can observe in our immediate environment.

The Sparrow, a true citizen of the world

Passer domesticus belongs to the family of sparrow finches (Passeridae ) , which originally comes from Eurasia and northern Africa. These birds have followed humans to all continents except Antarctica. At present, they are found in urban areas with a mild climate all over the world.

Small but robust, the sparrow has a life expectancy of 7 years, but it can live for over 13 years in captivity. The following are some of its key physical characteristics:

  • Weight: 30 g
  • Length: between 14 and 16 cm
  • Short, pink legs
  • Strong, thick and cone-shaped beak

Differences between males and females

The males are gray on the belly and a little darker higher up. In addition, they have a black spot on the chest and neck. Their crissum (that is, the area around the sewer opening) and tail are completely brown. Their wings are chocolate colored with a white stripe and some black feathers. They have two chocolate-colored stripes from the top of the eyes to the neck and they have a black worm-like stripe on the beak and eyes.

The females, which are smaller, are mostly gray on the abdomen and chest and brown on the wings, tail and crown. They also have a lighter eyebrow line.

The sparrow is used to living with humans

Curious and intelligent are good adjectives to describe the sparrow. With calm and social habits, it is common to see them in the streets, in parks and courtyards where it seems as if they are not afraid of people. You can also see them in vegetable land and on farms.

two sparrows

It is common to see them move and jump around in these environments. They usually look for food in the garbage that people leave on the street . They normally eat a seed-based diet. These small birds also hunt some insects, especially to feed their young.

In the same way, you can see them cleaning up and even take some sand or dust baths to get rid of parasites.

Some facts about breeding the sparrow

Each mating season , these sparrows form monogamous pairs. In the spring, they build a nest of feathers, dry leaves and other suitable materials inside cracks in buildings, under roof tiles or inside tree trunks.

The female usually lays between four and five eggs per litter – they can have up to four litters each spring – which the pair must incubate for about ten days.

sparrow on a tree

But both the mother and the father help each other to feed the young, which will be ready to fly after only two weeks.

The sparrow disappears from our cities

The iconic image of sparrows next to people in cities is no longer common. It is estimated that 63% of these animals disappeared between 1980 and 2013 in Europe.

The reasons for this population decline are still under debate. Contributing causes can be, for example:

  • Climate change
  • Pesticides
  • Electromagnetism
  • Carbon dioxide emissions
  • Lack of places to build nests
  • Competition with new, invasive species
  • Increase in their predators (especially cats)

Let us not forget that these social, winged creatures are often a useful bioindicator for city health. In other words, fewer birds indicate that there is more pollution in the area. So for the good of the planet and humanity, let’s do whatever it takes for the sparrow to come back and live in our cities again.

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