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Breeding Birds: House Sparrow

June 16, 1989|Clipboard researched by Susan Davis Greene and Rick VanderKnyff / Los Angeles Times; Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times


(Passer domesticus) Description: Male in breeding plumage has gray crown, chestnut nape, black bib and black bill. Female has streaked back, buffy eye stripe and unstreaked breast.

Habitat: Cultivated lands, woodland and edge, around human habitation.

Diet: Seeds, insects and fruit.

Displays: Courting male hops around female, back flattened, head up, tail down, wings extended with tips nearly touching the ground.

Nest: In artificial or natural cavity.

Eggs: White, greenish or blue, marked with gray or brown.

Natural history notes: Abundant in or near areas of human habitation, this bird (also known as the English sparrow) was introduced to the United States from Europe and England and quickly became one of the most common U.S. birds. Different geographical races have developed since bird's introduction to North America; races now vary in color and body size.

Breeding bird atlas: To report bird breeding activity in your neighborhood, or to get information on the breeding bird atlas (now in its fifth and final year), call Sea and Sage Audubon Society members Sylvia Gallagher, (714) 962-8990, or Nancy Kenyon, (714) 786-3160.

Note: Map is divided into 5-kilometer squares so that Audubon Society volunteers can more easily survey areas on a regular basis.

Sources: Sea and Sage Audubon Society; "The Birder's Handbook," Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, Fireside Books (1988); "Field Guide to the Birds of North America," National Geographic Society (1987); "Birds of Southern California: Status and Distribution," Garrett and Dunn, Los Angeles Audubon Society (1981).

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