Family Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Least Concern

Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)


French: Moineau friquet German: Feldsperling Spanish: Gorrión molinero

Fringilla montana


, 1758,

“in Europa“= northern Italy


Not infrequently hybridizes with P. domesticus where one of the two species is rare and presumably has difficulty in finding mate of own species; hybrids with P. hispaniolensis also reported. Race iubilaeus sometimes synonymized with saturatus, and obscuratus and hepaticus with malaccensis. Proposed race zaissanensis (from Kara Irtysh, in extreme E Kazakhstan) subsumed into dilutus. Eleven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. m. montanus (Linnaeus, 1758) – Europe E through NC Asia to Kamchatka and Commander Is, S to Mediterranean islands, Turkey, N Kazakhstan, NE Mongolia and NE China (N Inner Mongolia).
  • P. m. transcaucasicus Buturlin, 1906 – E Asia Minor and Caucasus region S to Armenia and E to N Iran (N of Elburz Mts).
  • P. m. dilutus Richmond, 1896 – Caspian Sea E to S Kazakhstan, NW China and W & S Mongolia, and S to Afghanistan and W & N Pakistan.
  • P. m. kansuensis Stresemann, 1932 – N Gansu and Tsaidam Basin, in N China.
  • P. m. tibetanus E. C. S. Baker, 1925 – S & E Tibetan Plateau and C China (E to SE Qinghai and W Sichuan).
  • P. m. dybowskii Domaniewski, 1915 – E Asia from extreme SE Russia (lower R Amur) S to NE China (E Inner Mongolia and Liaoning) and N Korea.
  • P. m. iubilaeus Reichenow, 1907 – E China from Beijing S to E Sichuan and lower R Yangtze.
  • P. m. obscuratus Jacobi, 1923 – Nepal E to NE India.
  • P. m. hepaticus Ripley, 1948 – extreme NE India (SE Arunachal Pradesh) and adjacent S China (SE Xizang).
  • P. m. malaccensis A. J. C. Dubois, 1887 – #RSE Asia from Myanmar E to Indochina and SE China (including Hainan), S to Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, S Philippines, Sulawesi, Lesser Sundas and Moluccas.
  • P. m. saturatus Stejneger, 1885 – Sakhalin, S Kurils, Japan, S Korea, Ryukyu Is, Taiwan, Philippines, N Borneo and N Indonesian islands.
  • Introduced (nominate race) in E USA, where now found in extreme EC Missouri and WC Illinois and in SE Iowa; also (probably malaccensis) in SE Australia, where now present SE Victoria and SE New South Wales (N to about Sydney).

    Descriptive notes

    14–15 cm; 17–30 g. A small, neat-looking sparrow, unusual among the black-bibbed species in that sexes are virtually indistinguishable in the field. Nominate race... read more


    Basic call "chip", higher-pitched and quite distinct from similar call of P.... read more


    In W of range (Britain) mainly in cultivated areas with hedgerow trees, orchards, gardens and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Predominantly a seed-eater, preferring smaller seeds of low herbs and grasses, including cultivated cereals; also a significant proportion... read more


    Start of season depends on latitude, ranging from Apr or May in N of range to Jan in extreme S of Asia; up to four broods. Loosely colonial... read more


    Mainly sedentary and partially migratory; small amount of dispersal, particularly of juveniles... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread and locally numerous. Breeding densities in C Europe range from 10–40 birds/ha in open deciduous woodland to maximum of 3 birds/ha... read more

    Recommended citation

    Summers-Smith, D. (2019). Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus). 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 10 December 2019).