Photo: Rob Curtis/Vireo

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Passer montanus

Brought from Germany, about 20 of these birds were released in St. Louis in 1870. The population took hold there, and they might have spread except that the House Sparrow, seemingly more aggressive and adaptable, reached the St. Louis area at about the same time. Eurasian Tree Sparrows are still found in parts of Missouri and Illinois, and have reached southeastern Iowa, but they are fairly local in farmland and suburbs. The tougher House Sparrow may keep them out of other areas.
Conservation status Small population in North America more or less stable, probably has little impact on native birds. In Eurasia, widespread and abundant.
Family Old World Sparrows
Habitat Farmland, towns. In North America, fairly local in open country with scattered bushes and trees, also in some suburban and city areas. In Europe and Asia, found in many kinds of semi-open habitats, woodland edges, towns, farms.
Brought from Germany, about 20 of these birds were released in St. Louis in 1870. The population took hold there, and they might have spread except that the House Sparrow, seemingly more aggressive and adaptable, reached the St. Louis area at about the same time. Eurasian Tree Sparrows are still found in parts of Missouri and Illinois, and have reached southeastern Iowa, but they are fairly local in farmland and suburbs. The tougher House Sparrow may keep them out of other areas.
Photo Gallery
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  • adult
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Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly while hopping on the ground. May also feed up in shrubs or trees at times. Often forages in small flocks.


Eggs

4-6, rarely up to 8. White to grayish white, marked with brown. Incubation is by both parents, about 13-14 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 12-14 days after hatching, may be fed by parents for another week. One pair of adults may raise 2 or 3 broods per year.


Young

Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 12-14 days after hatching, may be fed by parents for another week. One pair of adults may raise 2 or 3 broods per year.

Diet

Mostly seeds and insects. Diet in North America is not known in detail, but undoubtedly includes the seeds of various weeds and grasses, also waste grain in fields. Also eats many insects, perhaps especially in summer.


Nesting

Some adults may remain in pairs at all seasons, or pairs may form well before nesting season starts. Nest: Placed inside a cavity, such as a natural hollow in tree, old woodpecker hole, birdhouse, or hole in building or under eaves. Unlike House Sparrow, seldom or never builds nest in open branches. Nest (probably built by both parents) is a bulky mass of grass, weeds, straw, trash, sometimes lined with feathers.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Migration

Some northern populations in Eurasia are migratory, but those in North America are permanent residents.

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Migration

Some northern populations in Eurasia are migratory, but those in North America are permanent residents.

Songs and Calls
Loud chirping, similar to that of House Sparrow.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.