Family Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Least Concern

Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus)


French: Moineau de la mer Morte German: Moabsperling Spanish: Gorrión del Mar Muerto

Passer moabiticus


, 1864,

Israel and Jordan


E race yatii tentatively proposed as a separate species#R (although subsequently left lumped#R): differs in its pale lemon-yellow vs whitish-grey belly (2); much broader whitish or buffy edging on wing-coverts, tertials and rectrices (2); sandy-grey vs dull grey crown, mantle and rump (1); undertail-coverts without pale chestnut centres (ns[1]); but no mensural differences exist, while vocal evidence remains to be gathered. Name mesopotamicus, proposed for birds in S Turkey, N Syria, Iraq and SW Iran, generally judged a synonym of nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. m. moabiticus Tristram, 1864 – Dead Sea Sparrow – S Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, W Jordan, N & S Syria and Iraq E to SW Iran; recently recorded in Lebanon#R and Kuwait#R#R.
  • P. m. yatii Sharpe, 1888 – Afghan Sparrow – Seistan region, on borders of E Iran and SW Afghanistan.
  • Descriptive notes

    12 cm; 14–20 g. Male nominate race breeding has head and nape mainly pale grey, long pale supercilium whitish at front and becoming broader and more buffish behind eye... read more


    Noisy at nest-site, otherwise rather quiet. Male nest-ownership call "chip-chip-chip" or... read more


    Riverine or lacustrine areas with trees or scrub, and irrigated semi-desert where flush of annual... read more

    Food and feeding

    Predominatly a seed eater, specializing on smaller seeds of grasses, rushes and sedges, shrubs and trees. Nestlings fed with both... read more


    Season Mar–Jul; up to three broods. Breeds in loose colonies of 10–100 pairs. Nest a large ovoid structure, mean diameter 30 cm... read more


    Migratory and partially migratory. Leaves breeding areas in autumn, apparently dispersing into more... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common in W of range; locally common in Afghanistan. Numbers in breeding colonies tend to rise and fall, particularly with... read more

    Recommended citation

    Summers-Smith, D. (2020). Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 February 2020).