Sparrows, small birds with big reputation

Birds we share our everyday living with

This article is not dedicated to Johnny Depp. Jack Sparrow will have to wait for a different occasion. This text is dedicated to a species of small birds. Sparrow, the most familiar of all wild birds worldwide.

Sparrows are a family of small passerine birds, Passeridae. Primarily seed-eaters, they also consume small insects.

Some species scavenge for food around cities and will happily eat virtually anything in small quantities.

Birds can vary in size from the chestnut sparrow, at 11.4 centimeters (4.5 in) and 13.4 grams (0.47 oz.), to the parrot-billed sparrow, at 18 centimeters (7.1 in) and 42 grams (1.5 oz.).


Coexistence with people

Most of the sparrow species live by agricultural areas and human settlements.

The Eurasian tree and house sparrows are particularly specialized in living around humans and inhabit cities in large numbers.

Handbook of the Birds of the World recognizes 17 of the 26 species to nest on and feed around buildings.

They coexist with humans. City folk loves feeding them with bread crumbs together with pigeons.

In the country, these birds steel our seed and grains, but also helping humans getting rid of insect pests.


Throughout history

People have always loved them, even though they are not colorful and their songs are unremarkable.

The earliest mentions of pet sparrows are from the Romans. Some accounts clearly describe their appearance and habits.

Ancient Greeks associated sparrows with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, due to their perceived lustfulness, an association echoed by later writers such as Chaucer and Shakespeare.

Sparrows are represented in ancient Egyptian art very rarely, but an Egyptian hieroglyph is based on the house sparrow.

The symbol had no phonetic value and was used as a determinative in words to indicate small, narrow, or bad.


Unusual habits

They very much enjoy dust baths. They throw dust over their feathers, just as if it were bathing with water.

In doing so, a sparrow may make a small depression in the ground, and sometimes defends this spot against other sparrows.

They enjoy baths in small poodles of water also. Although they seem to be fragile little birds, sparrows are known to aggressively defend their nest holes.

A scientist in 1889. reported cases of House Sparrows attacking 70 different bird species.

They are social birds, they move around and feed together in big flocks.

From living in such close company, House Sparrows have developed many ways of indicating dominance and submission.

Nervous birds flick their tails. More irritated birds will crouch, shove their head forward and spread and roll forward their wings, and hold the tail erect.

When they lift their heads, males are in fact showing the amount of black colored feathers on their necks.

Males with larger amounts of black on the throat tend to dominate over males with less black.

When males display to a prospective mate, they fluff up their chest, hold their wings partially open, fan the tail, and hop stiffly in front of the female, turning sideways and sometimes bowing up and down.

Sometimes, other males who spot such a display in progress will fly in and begin displaying as well. Female than has a sweet choice.

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