House Sparrows or True Sparrow

sparrow

We can’t expect human life and a world without sparrows.

It is one of the world’s most abundantly found bird.

The house sparrow or true sparrow belongs to the family of sparrows known as Passeridae. It is distributed all over Asia and Europe while restricted only to the northern parts of Africa. The sparrow was introduced to Australia, South and North America to control pests but they actually become a pest. they started kicking and tossing other bird’s nest in order to make theirs.

Sparrows are perching birds and have small feet with 3 toes in front and 1 toe pointing backwards. This helps them in clinging to branches.

Many ecologists describe it as being native to Europe, but it is not native to Europe, and originally belong to Asia (most probably to Pakistan or India) because Asian countries had more favourable conditions for sparrows as compared to the European ones.

Physical appearance:

The house sparrow is a small and stout bird measuring about 6 to 7 inches in length while 40 to 45 grams in weight.

They have short legs, a thick bill, and pale grey plumage.

The wings are brown with black streaks. Though male and female are difficult to distinguish male has a black bib around its cheeks. The colour of the bill is pale yellow in juveniles while black to paler in adults and is made up of keratin protein like human nails and hair.

( Males have black bib around their cheeks)

Reproduction in sparrows;

Sparrows have a high population growth rate. They mate during spring (April) and early summer so their eggs can hatch in summer as it would be difficult for their juveniles to survive in winter.

The female sparrow prefers to mate with a male who is larger and older. These males

defend territories of higher quality than those of youngers and know the surrounding well. They form monogamous pairs for each breeding season. After mating, the female lays up to eight eggs, and the male and the female both incubate the eggs for 12 days.

( A baby sparrow is resting)

Nest Building in house sparrows

Houses, barns, buildings, and utility structures provide plenty of nesting places to house sparrows. Besides this streetlights, gas-station roofs, signs, and overhanging fixtures can also be their nesting sites. Usually, they like to build nests in human dwellings and

small holes in trees.  They prefer human dwellings as it provides them protection from predators and they find plenty of food to eat there.

The average size of their nest is 7 inches.

The house sparrow usually prefers safe sites for its nest building.

The temperature of the nest is maintained by using feathers and mammal fur in its construction which is usually bought by males, that’s why the female also gives preference to the male during mating who brings more feathers.

(a male sparrow is collecting material for the nest)

Mated pairs build the nest jointly or repair the nest they used the year before or the one they used for an earlier brood.

Usually, they use coarse materials, like twigs, mammal fur, feathers,  dry grasses, pieces of plastic, paper, fine fibres and strings in nest building.

What to do if you want to remove nests from your home?

Before removing the nest make sure that the nest is empty. If not, then leave the nest and let the eggs hatch. After some days, the young will be able to fly and will abandon the nest.

After establishing that the nest is indeed empty, remove any debris and seal up small holes that the sparrows use to gain access.

( a sparrow is eating bugs)

Baby sparrows:

The juvenile has a pale yellow bill. The mother sparrow feeds them with grains, caterpillars, aphids and beetles etc. Nestlings do not drink water as they may inhale it and die. In the early days, the mother prefers to feed them with proteinaceous food so they may put on some weight and grow rapidly. Baby sparrows are always born naked, and most have closed eyes that don’t open for a few days after hatching. They wholly depend on their mother for food.

( couples mating)

Mud bath:

House sparrows often take a mud bath or sand bath. For this purpose, they dig a hollow space with their feet, push their bellies into the dust and toss it under their wings and over their backs as if it was water.  The dust keeps their skin oil free and also smoothes it. Besides this, dust qlso removes parasites from their bodies. 

They also bathe frequently in water to keep their feathers in tip-top condition.

Sparrows are extremely aggressive. They harass, attack, and kill adult native birds when competing for nest sites, and destroy their eggs and young. When they were introduced to Australia from Europe to control pests, they overwhelmed birdfeeders and drove native birds away.

(a photographer captures a nice moment of bird feeding)

Why we can’t expect the world and life without sparrows?

In 1958, a campaign known as “Smash Sparrow”, was launched in China by Mao Zedong Mao. He was of the view that sparrows ate too many grains and China could do without such pests. Thus, he decreed that all sparrows be killed. Chinese farmers started killing birds from all over the agricultural areas and millions of birds were killed.

It was soon realised that sparrows ate not only grain but also pests. The agricultural sector of China was badly hit and there was an exponential rise in the locust population. Soon a famine broke out in the country and people ran out of food resulting in the deaths of millions of people.

(sparrow killing compaign. a donkey cart is loaded with dead sparrows)

Sparrows feed on small insects and worms and keep their population in check; otherwise, the insects would have eaten certain plant species to extinction. Nowadays swarms of locusts are threatening large areas of pastures and crops across the world just because of the decrease in the population of sparrows.

(people of china suffering from food shortage)

The sparrow is an eco-friendly animal so don’t kill and hurt it. If it does not reach its nest, its young will starve to death.

The average life of a sparrow is 3 years.

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