There are many species of sparrow and the differences between them are subtle. In fact, a lot of people will struggle to tell them apart. The most common species, however, is the house sparrow. They are around six inches long with warm brown and light grey plumage, relatively short tails and small, but strong beaks.
The female house sparrow has much more muted colouring than the male, who tends to have white patches and black feathers around the beak.
They thrive in urban areas
House sparrows are found all over the world and can be seen throughout the entire year in the UK. They are native to Europe and much of Asia, but were introduced to Australia, Africa, and America and are now the most widely distributed wild bird on the planet.
Sparrows are well adapted for thriving in urban areas. They are opportunistic feeders and can survive on small amounts of almost any kind of food, though they have shown a particular liking for insects.
Despite favouring open country for breeding, it’s not uncommon for sparrows to nest in towns and cities. In rural areas, they are notorious for demolishing crops, particularly grain-based ones.
They are communal birds, and will often form large flocks with other species and roost and feed in these groups. Their communication between each other can be loud in the early morning and disruptive to people in the neighbouring vicinity.
Sparrows are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which means that it is illegal to intentionally kill, harm or physically move them. Because of this, it’s essential that you take preventative measures before the flock settles in nearby, as they can be difficult to deal with later on.
House Sparrows are a pest to the food industry because of the potential damage they do to packaged goods. The pose a contamination risk but sparrows are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
House sparrows may damage areas where they are nesting within buildings but there is a greater contamination risk from their droppings and nesting material.
In fact the number of House sparrows in the UK has declined over the last 30 years and studies are currently being carried out to find out why. The House Sparrow is now on the red list of conservation concern for bird species.
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