House Sparrows Are In Trouble

House sparrows at the Walmart, 29 Jan 2021 (photo by Tim Vechter at Westmoreland Bird and Nature Club on Facebook)

1 April 2021

Yes, today is April Fool’s Day but it’s no joke that house sparrows are in trouble. Though still considered pests in North America their population has declined dramatically, even in their native range. Seven years ago their disappearance was a mystery. Has anything changed?

Native to Eurasia and northern Africa, humans introduced house sparrows (Passer domesticus) to continents and islands worldwide in the 1800s, making them the most widely distributed wild bird on Earth. (Green is native range, yellow is introduced in the map below.)

House sparrow range map: green=native, yellow=introduced (map from Wikimedia Commons)

House sparrows were successful worldwide — too successful — but as recently as 30 years ago they began a steady decline. They are down 84% now in North America and 60% in Europe. In the UK they are red-listed as a species of high conservation concern.

There have been many studies but no one cause for decline. The reasons include:

The one thing we do know since 2014 is that there is no lack of nest sites.

In North America house sparrows are not just in trouble, they are trouble because of their aggression toward native species while nesting.

We’ll be happy to see them go but their mysterious decline should make us think. If a bird as hardy and human-oriented as the house sparrow is declining, it bodes ill for us too.

For more information read :

(photo by Tim Vechter at Westmoreland Bird and Nature Club on Facebook)

6 thoughts on “House Sparrows Are In Trouble

  1. I understand the reasons we should be concerned, but I can’t say I’d miss the sparrows. They’re so mean and gang up on smaller birds. I had to chase a few away in my yard who looked like they were pecking a poor chickadee to death!

    1. When I was kid they were called English sparrows but eventually changed to the name they have in England.

  2. The House Sparrows at my window feeder are being driven out by House Finches. One invasive species being bullied by another. Somewhat ironic.

  3. They are nesting in my gutters under the leaf guards and I worry about damage. Now I feel I shouldn’t chase them out.

    1. No need to worry about ‘saving’ them in North America. They are still an invasive alien.

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