People passionate about nature

House Sparrow

Above: House Sparrow by Lynnea Parker

What Does It Look Like?

Coloured in shades browns and rusts, House sparrows are of stocky build and a have a shorter tail than our native sparrows.  The crown of the head is grey.  Males have a black throat-patch and lores (markings on the sides of the face extending from the base of the bill to front of the eye).  The wings are decorated with a single white patch, visible in flight. 

Does It Migrate?

House sparrows are resident year-round throughout much of North America. 

Above: House Sparrow by Lynnea Parker

Where Does It Live?

Breeding occurs in Manitoba from the treeline south, usually near human settlements.  Cavities or crevices are used as nesting sites, such as found behind house eaves and commercial signs; other structures such as streetlights and traffic lights are also used.  In spring, bird houses meant for Purple Martin, swallows and bluebirds, are often claimed by this species.  Tree cavities are used to a lesser extent.

Where Can I See It?

As this species is strongly associated with civilization and is fond of seeds such as millet and sunflower, local bird feeders provide ample observational opportunities. 

Above: House Sparrows by Lynnea Parker


Native to Eurasia and northern Africa, the House Sparrow was introduced in New York in the 1850s; the species quickly spread across North America and was once considered very common, even abundant.  Since the mid-1960s, numbers have delined in Canada.  Several factors are suspected to have contributed to these declines, including the industrialization of farms.  Because the House Sparrow is not native to North America, these declines do not warrant conservation concern.

Did You Know?

Centuries ago, “sparrow pots” were hung outside houses in Britain to encourage House Sparrows to nest in them.  These pots had a hole in the back from where the residents could remove the eggs and nestlings for consumption.   Affluent residents also hung pots, using the adult birds in falconry.

Above: House Sparrow by Lynnea Parker