At a Glance

One of the most widespread and abundant songbirds in the world today, the House Sparrow has a simple success formula: it associates with humans. Native to Eurasia and northern Africa, it has succeeded in urban and farming areas all over the world -- including North America, where it was first released at New York in 1851. Tough, adaptable, aggressive, it survives on city sidewalks where few birds can make a living; in rural areas, it may evict native birds from their nests.
Old World Sparrows, Perching Birds
Low Concern
Fields, Meadows, and Grasslands, Urban and Suburban Habitats
California, Eastern Canada, Florida, Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, New England, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Texas, Western Canada
Direct Flight, Flitter

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

Permanent resident over most of its range, including throughout North America.


5-6 1/2" (13-17 cm). Male has black bib, white cheeks, gray crown, chestnut nape. Female also attractive with a close look, with pale buff eyebrow, plain gray chest, stripes of black and buff on brown back.
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Brown, Gray, Tan, White
Wing Shape
Fingered, Rounded
Tail Shape
Notched, Rounded, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

Shrill, monotonous, noisy chirping.
Call Pattern
Falling, Flat
Call Type
Chirp/Chip, Rattle


Cities, towns, farms. General surroundings vary, but in North America essentially always found around manmade structures, never in unaltered natural habitats. Lives in city centers, suburbs, farms; also around isolated houses or businesses surrounded by terrain unsuited to House Sparrows, such as desert or forest.



Usually 3-6, sometimes 2-7, rarely 1-8. Whitish to greenish white, with brown and gray dots concentrated toward larger end. Incubation is by both parents, 10-14 days.


Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave nest about 2 weeks after hatching. 2-3 broods per year.

Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly while hopping on ground. May perch on weed stalks to reach seeds. Adaptable in seeking food, may take smashed insects from the fronts of parked cars, or search tree bark for insects. Comes to bird feeders for a wide variety of items.


Mostly seeds. In most situations, great majority of diet is weed and grass seeds or waste grain. Also eats some insects, especially in summer. In urban surroundings, also scavenges crumbs of food left by humans.


In courtship, male displays by hopping near female with his tail raised, wings drooped, chest puffed out, bowing and chirping. Often breeds in small colonies. Pairs defend only a small territory in the immediate vicinity of nest, chasing away all intruders. Nest: Usually in an enclosed niche such as cavity in tree, hole in building, rain gutter, birdhouse, nests of other birds. Where such sites are scarce, will nest in open in tree branches. Nest (built by both parents) is made of material such as grass, weeds, twigs, trash, often lined with feathers. Inside enclosed space, material forms foundation; in open sites, nest is a globular mass with entrance on side.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Probably has affected some native birds by competing for nest sites and food. Eastern population peaked around 1900, has been gradually declining in recent years.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the House Sparrow. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the House Sparrow

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.