Beak of the Week – House Sparrow

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Family: Passeridae

The House Sparrow is easy to find year-round, even in the heat of summer. House Sparrows thrive in urban environments, where there are often very few resources available for birds, but they can also be found in a variety of suburban and agricultural landscapes. Where food is available, large flocks of House Sparrows are commonly seen congregating in hedgerows. House Sparrows will visit feeders, but they are just as likely to be found hopping around parks and searching picnic areas for crumbs.

House Sparrows are small, plump birds with strong, conical bills that can easily crack seeds. Adult male House Sparrows are mostly reddish brown with a light grayish underside and a prominent black “bib”; their heads are patterned with darker rusty brown and have a gray patch on top. Female and young House Sparrows are streaked brownish-gray overall and have a lighter stripe near their eyes.

Despite sharing a common name with many other well-known species of North American birds, the House Sparrow is in a different family from other “sparrows” of North America. It is originally native to Eurasia and northern Africa, though it has spread alongside human development and is now established in urban areas almost worldwide.

By Aidan Healey, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon
Photos by Greg Lavaty

Learn about Texas birds in our Bird Gallery!

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