You are here

House Sparrow

A familiar but declining species found usually around human dwellings and activity

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

I am sure that the dramatic decline of the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) in recent years is pretty common knowledge given the amount of publicity it has had. Despite this, the humble 'cockney sparra' is still top of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch charts.

In 1979, when the Big Garden Birdwatch began, the house sparrow was recorded in most gardens and the results showed an average of 10.0 per garden; in 2014 the average per garden was just 3.2. The number of gardens reporting this species has fallen but where they occur they are still pretty numerous. That means that around 70% of gardens that used to have sparrows no longer do. Despite research we still seem no closer to understanding this frighteningly quick and sharp decline. Various suggestions from plastic roofing materials in our houses to changes in garden use to pollution from car exhausts and even light pollution have been put forward but, as yet, there is no concrete evidence to support any theory.

The house sparrow is a confident little chap that nothing seems to phase. Bouncy, noisy, quarrelsome, enthusiastic, greedy, messy; surely all adjectives that apply to this rather plain, everyday little bird. Some people dislike them but they are a bundle of fun to watch in the garden especially at bath time in the bird bath.

As its name implies it has long been associated with human activity, especially around dwellings where it is happy to scratch a living from just about anything it can find; it is not a fussy eater! It must surely be a change in our life style that has had such a dramatic effect on the house sparrow population? Happily, the figures seem to show that the decline has halted in recent years and there may even be a hint of a recovery but it is far too early to tell for sure.


Common Name House Sparrow
Scientific Name Passer domesticus
Species Group Birds Finches and Buntings
Status Frequent
Interest Level
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Look for

Noisy, chattering group of birds around houses, parks and farms

Identification Notes
  • Gregarious, noisy and active birds, always in flocks
  • Rarely seen away from human settlements
  • Now far less common than they once were
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Finches and Buntings