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 Post subject: Sparrow: House
Unread postPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 6:22 pm 
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House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

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Photo: December 2004

Classification:
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Passeridae
Genus: Passer

Other names:
Afrikaans: Huismossie
French: Moineau domestique
German: Haussperling
Dutch: Huismus
Portuguese: Pardal-dos-telhados

Distribution: Widespread across the world in every continent except Antarctica; often originally introduced by man. On the African continent they are less common in the arid regions. The species was introduced to South Africa in the 1890's.

Identification: The House Sparrow is a small (14 cm), mostly social, bird that is found in cities, towns, gardens and parks. It has a short, powerful, conical bill. The bill is black in breeding males and greyish-brown in females and non-breeding males. The legs and feet are pinkish-brown.
The male has a grey forehead and crown. The back of the head and back is a rich red-brown colour. There is a black line running through the eye, below which there is a large whitish ear-patch. The throat and a upper breast are black. The back and wings are tawny-brown, with some black markings, giving the back a scaled effect. The rump is grey. It can be distinguished from the male Great Sparrow by the lack of bright chestnut colouring on the rump.
The female is a dull grey-brown and shows a narrow off-white eye-stripe which differentiates it from the Yellow-throated Petronia (Yellow-throated Sparrow). Both male and female have a whitish wing bar.
Juvenile resembles the female.

Call: A husky, penetrating "chi-chip, chichiririp, cheep". The song is a repeated combination of call-notes.

Habitat: The species is found around virtually all human habitation. It is always associated with human settlement, and does not occur far away from houses or buildings.
Their diet consists of seeds, soft buds, fruit, insects, spiders and any food scraps from humans or on bird tables.

Breeding: In sub-Saharan Africa the House Sparrow breeds all months of the year. The nest is an untidy mass of grass, wool, feathers and other soft materials, with side entrance. It is placed usually in a cavity in a building - under eaves or in a thatched roof (like that of a Kruger bungalow :wink: )

Image

Clutch: 3-5 eggs. Incubation (by the female) does not start until all eggs are laid. The male feeds the hatchlings and fledgelings. House Sparrows are monogamous.

Status: Common to abundant resident.

Conservation: Since the House Sparrow has such a huge range it is not considered globally threatened (2006 IUCN Red List Category: Least Concern), but unfortunately that classification may be up for revision soon.
The species is becoming increasingly rare in the UK, the Netherlands, France and other European countries. The official Dutch partner of Birdlife International has classified the House Sparrow as Near Threatened (NL Red List 2004).
The decline in Britain - where sparrow numbers are believed to have fallen by 90% in the past 15 years - has already been well documented, partly thanks to a campaign by The Independent. French ornithologists have now charted a steep decline in Paris and other French cities. There has been an even sharper fall in urban populations in Germany, the Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Finland.
Various possible explanations have been offered by ornithologists. The rise in numbers and variety of other birds may have reduced their nesting places and feeding opportunities. And tightened building regulations, along with better maintenance, may have closed up the cracks in which they used to nest. The number of cats is also booming, so they may be preying more on the birds. Some blame radio waves from mobile telephones or pollution from cars; but why should that affect sparrows and not other birds?
The mystery still stands, and according to Alain Bougrain-Dubourg, president of the French Society for the Protection of Birds, "All the signals are on red. The house sparrow is a highly symbolic bird, which has co-habited closely with man for 10,000 years. It may be less attractive than a blue tit but it has the right to survive, for the sake of biodiversity if nothing else."

So don't any of you dare say: "oh, it's just a sparrow". :wink:

*/edit: some links apparently went past their "best before" date.


Last edited by Jose on Fri Oct 17, 2008 4:28 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 8:09 am 
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Thanks Jose for posting something about Sparrows. I was wondering when someone will shine a light on them. As we see them on a daily basis we tend to look past them. But do remember that they also count as a tick on your birding list even though even if it's just another sparrow.

Also a very good 6000th post!

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 10:09 am 
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francoisd wrote:
As we see them on a daily basis we tend to look past them.

I wish.... They used to sit on tables on the terraces here, trying to steal the cookies out of your hands. One of the bars actually used to have cake for the sparrows on it's menu, specially made with seeds and fruits in it.

And now? It's been a few months since my last spotting of one. :cry:
Part of the problem here is crows, they are abundant lately and will steal the contents of any nest they find. Another part is the upgrading of neighbourhoods. Old houses and teared down, and new ones put up, which is nice for the people, but a disaster for the sparrows as they can't get under the eaves to nest.
And the gardens. People are too focussed on neat gardens lately, which means even less nestling space and loose seeds and berries. Leave a corner of your garden "messy", your birds will love you for it.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 5:23 pm 
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Location: mind in SA, body in The Netherlands
One of the major problems are the flat roofs
House sparrows built their nest between the tiles
But since the last 10-15 years Holland is mainly building
flat.
I luckily live in a old neighbourhood. Houses were built between
1930-1950 and with rooftiles. We still have our sparrows 8)

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 9:42 am 
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Quote:
In 1925 a count of birds in Kensingtom Gardens included 2,600 house sparrows. 75 years later a similar count found 8.

Taken from "A Bad Birdwatcher's Companion" by Simon Barnes.

He goes on to say that the early years of the decline in cities at least, can be accounted for by the loss of the urban horse (droppings being a big food source). The later decline, especially since the 80s cannot be so easily explained. Use of pesticides in the garden, increased number of predators (i.e. cats) as well as desease and loss of nesting sites have all played their part.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 4:16 pm 
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I am seriously stuck on this bird, it is definetly a female because I've seen it feed it's chicks at our birdfeeder very regularly everyday. Please can you help ID her? :pray:


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 4:31 pm 
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Jeepers, I'm stumped. Haven't you got any more pics of the bird perhaps?

As a matter of interest, the fact that the bird was feeding chicks does not neccessarrily preclude it being a male bird. There are many species in which the male also feeds the young.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2007 4:44 pm 
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Cool Deefstes, learn something new everyday. This bird often hangs out with our garden's group of Cape Sparrows. Your wish is my command...
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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2007 10:45 am 
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deefstes wrote:
Ok, you're just going to have to keep posting pictures then until we nail this bugger :D

Okay I managed to get these shots, I also now know it's call. Its a pin-drop soft, 'cheepa-cheep'.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 3:08 pm 
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Hi Mark

I am not saying that you don't know what a House Sparrow looks like, however I did read the whole thread more than once, I think now for the fourth time, I've looked at every picture, saved a few to the laptop to enlarge and then formed an opinion, which like you pointed out might be completely wrong. That is why it is my humble opinion.

Why did I id it as a juv House Sparrow (I am sorry I missed the part of the chicks at the first post) and why I can't agree with Johann (although he might be 100% right and I 100% wrong)

First why I don't think it is a White-throated Canary (from the photos). I can see no yellow on the rump in any of the photos. Did you at any given time see any yellow (and in the case of White-throated Canaries it is unmistakable) on the rump? If yes, well prob solved and I am wrong. If not I doubt that it is YTC.

Further many of the shows the throat, bill, size and head pretty well (nice pics :!: ) In the case of YTC there should be white on tht throat, a heavy bill, a white brow stripe and size similar to Cape Sparrow. The bird in the picture however does not have a heavy bill, fairly small bill (see very good picture 1 of the 4-sqaure pictures), no white brow stripe and I can't see any white in the throat in any of the pictures. Also the size is smaller than Cape Sparrow per picture where the two is next to each other and the answer to deeftes question.

Why do I still think HS? Once again the first picture in the sqaure. If you look at the picture you'll notice a thin off white brow stripe running from behind the eyse towards the back. I must admit the second photo in the sqaure with two birds together is slightly more difficult as it seems in that photo to have a heavier bill. The colouration of the bird's wing in the first picture of the sqaure to me does look similar to HS I have seen. Size will also match HS rather than YTC, seeing that the former is slightly smaller (1/15 to be precise).

With the information I have out of the photos, and the feeding of chicks I would still stick with my initial suggestion of juvenile female House Sparrow. This would be interesting as feeding by helpers has not been recorded in South africa, but does occur in House Sparrows in Europe. It is therefor not necesarily the chicks of the bird feeding it. Like deeftes said, some birds the male also feed the chicks as is the case with HS. The chick gets fed 15-20 x per hour by either parent and sometimes by a helper (not recorded so far in SA) - helpers very often are members of the previous years brood. The latter I couldn't clarify with regards to HS, the lay up to 4 clutches of egg per season.

This once again is my opinion and I might be 100% wrong, thanks however for the challenge as I, once again, learned alot of things I didn't know before.

I am also looking forward to the answer of deeftes. :D


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Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 3:12 pm 
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My identification of this bird based on the quality of the available photos have to be Female House Sparrow and would like to hear any concrete reasons why it is not.

I’ve added some markings to Mark’s photos to illustrate what I’m saying.

Image

Image

1. Bill shape and size points to a sead eater therefore including sparrows and canaries

2. White “wing bar” what is between what seems the lesser and median wing coverts. This will include female:Protea Seed-eater, House Sparrow, Cape Sparrow and far shot female Yellow Canary,

3. The eye stripe is “yellowish” in colour and only begins behind the eye. So we now say goodbye to Cape Sparrow and Yellow canary with white eye strips as well as Protea Seed-eater with a darkish brown stripe that starts behind the bill.

4. The secondary wing feathers tend to show a lighter brown colour. The bill colour in the second photo is also not black but a lighter brown colour.

This leaves me, as said, based on the photos posted with Female House Sparrow.

As too White-throated Canary. The bill of the bird in Mark’s photo is not nearly heavy enough to qualify.
Streaky-headed Seed-eater does not show the white wing bars and the white eye stripe of Streaky-headed S starts at the bill.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 3:21 pm 
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MWD, who would ever have thought that a bird which offers you so many opportunities for photographs could be so difficult to ID?

I didn't want to mention it before you submitted more pictures but now that you have I suppose I can mention Lark-like Bunting, and refute it just as quickly. For a while I thought that we should probaby consider LLB even though my gut feel told me that gardens in Capeton's suburbia would be the last place to go look for LLB's.

I still think it would rather be a LLB than any type of Canary. It can't be Streaky-headed Seedeater as that one would have had a very strong white eye brow and an almost black face. White-throated Canary has a very strong beak and I cannot turn this bird into a WTCanary.

I know that you feel the birds behave differently than Sparrows and seeing as the pictures don't show any of that I can't disagree with you. However, judging from only the pictures that you have posted I would not have been able to arrive at any other conclusion than a Sparrow and with these latest pics I'm very strongly inclined to vote for House Sparrow.

Now for a somewhat ridiculous exercise. Let's have a look at all the possibilities. I had a look at ALL the seedeaters of your part of the country (24 in total) in the hope that one might catch my eye in case I missed it. Most are of course totally impossible but here goes:

Southern Red Bishop - NO WAY
Yellow Bishop - NO WAY
Cape Bunting - Nope
Lark-like Bunting - I doubt
Brimstone Canary - No way
Cape Canary - No way
Forest Canary - NO WAY
White-throated Canary - Nope
Yellow Canary - Nope
Chaffinch - Nope
Clapper Lark - HELL NO
Large-billed Lark - HELL NO
Red-capped Lark - HELL NO
Quailfinch - No way
Streaky-headed Seedeater - Nope
Cape Siskin - NO WAY
Cape Sparrow - Could be but I don't think so
House Sparrow - Get's my vote
Grey-backed Sparrowlark - No way
Common Waxbill - No way
Swee Waxbill - No way
Cape Weaver - No way
Southern Masked-Weaver - No way
Pin-tailed Whydah - Early on I had actually considered this bird but as more pictures came to light I ditched this idea.


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 Post subject: Re: Sparrow: House
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:41 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - General Birds
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:05 am 
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Help me please. Who is paddling with the buff weaver in Satara?

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - General Birds
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:33 am 
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Looks like a female House Sparrow to me....

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