Eurasian Tree Sparrow

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Common Name: Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Scientific Name: Passer montanus

Size: 5- 5.5 inches (12.5-14 cm)

Habitat: Europe and Asia. This sparrow breeds over most of temperate Eurasia and Southeast Asia.

The Eurasian Tree Sparrow is widespread in the towns and cities of eastern Asia, but in Europe it is a bird of lightly wooded open countryside, with the House Sparrow breeding in the more urban areas.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: Unknown mature individuals. The Eurasian Tree Sparrow's extensive range and large population ensure that it is not endangered globally, but there have been large declines in western European populations, in part due to changes in farming practices involving increased use of herbicides and loss of winter stubble fields.

Diet: Mainly seeds, but invertebrates are also consumed, particularly during the breeding season.

Nesting: This sparrow is distinctive even within its genus in that it has no plumage differences between the sexes. The adult's crown and nape are rich chestnut, and there is a kidney-shaped black ear patch on each pure white cheek; the chin, throat, and the area between the bill and throat are black. The upper parts are light brown, streaked with black, and the brown wings have two distinct narrow white bars. The legs are pale brown to pink, and the bill is lead-blue in summer, becoming almost black in winter. The juvenile also resembles the adult, although the colors tend to be duller.

The untidy looking nest is built in a natural cavity, a hole in a building or in an abandoned nest of a European Magpie or White Stork. The typical clutch is five or six eggs which hatch in less than two weeks.

Cool Facts: While this species is sometimes viewed as a pest, it is also widely celebrated in oriental art. The fluttering of the bird gave rise to a traditional Japanese dance, the Suzume Odori, which was depicted by artists such as Hokusai.

This species varies little in appearance across its large range, and the differences between the eight extant subspecies.

  • P. m. montanus, the nominate subspecies, ranges across Europe except southwestern Iberia, southern Greece, and the former Yugoslavia. It also breeds in Asia east to the Lena River and south to the northern regions of Turkey, the Caucasus, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Korea.
  • P. m. transcaucasicus, breeds from the southern Caucasus east to northern Iran. It is duller and greyer than the nominate race.
  • P. m. dilutus, a resident in the extreme northeast of Iran, northern Pakistan and northwest India. It also occurs further north, from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan east to China. Compared to P. m. montanus, it is paler, with sandy-brown upper parts.
  • P. m. tibetanus, the largest race by size, is found in the northern Himalayas, from Nepal east through Tibet to northwest China. It resembles P. m. dilutus, but is darker.
  • P. m. saturatus, breeds in Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. It is deeper brown than the nominate subspecies and has a larger bill.
  • P. m. malaccensis, is found from the southern Himalayas east to Hainan and Indonesia. It is a dark race, like P. m. saturatus, but is smaller and more heavily streaked on its upper parts.
  • P. m. hepaticus, breeds from northeast Assam to northwest Burma. It is similar to P. m. saturatus, but redder on its head and upper parts.

As with other small birds, infection by parasites and diseases, and predation by birds of prey take their toll, and the typical life span is about two years.

Found in Songbird Remix Sparrows of the World

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