Family Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Least Concern

Great Sparrow (Passer motitensis)


Taxonomy

French: Grand Moineau German: Rostsperling Spanish: Gorrión grande
Other common names: Rufous Sparrow, Southern Rufous Sparrow, Great Rufous Sparrow
Taxonomy:

Pyrgita Motitensis

A. Smith

, 1836,

Hopetown, northern Cape Province; error = Motita, near Old Lakatoo, 135 miles [c. 215 km] north of Orange River, South Africa

.

Has been considered conspecific with P. iagoensis, P. insularis (with hemileucus), P. cordofanicus, P. shelleyi and P. rufocinctus. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. m. benguellensis Lynes, 1926 – coastal SW Angola and Namibia.
  • P. m. motitensis (A. Smith, 1836) – Botswana and N South Africa (N Northern Cape and North West Province).
  • P. m. subsolanus Clancey, 1964 – SW Zimbabwe and N & C South Africa (Limpopo Province S to N & W Free State).
  • Descriptive notes

    15–16 cm; 26–36 g. One of the largest sparrows, with bill slightly arched. Male nominate race has blue-grey crown and nape, black lores, a crescent-shaped... read more

    Voice

    Main call a twangy "cheeurr" or "wer-cheerr", fuller and rather deeper in tone... read more

    Habitat

    Dry acacia (Acacia) savanna, frequenting trees; not associated with man.

    Food and feeding

    Seeds of grass and cultivated cereals. Nestling diet is animal food, with caterpillars (Lepidoptera) recorded. Less gregarious than most... read more

    Breeding

    Season Sept–Feb; two broods. Solitary. Nest built by both sexes, free-standing ovoid about the size of a rugby football, domed, with... read more

    Movements

    Nomadic, with post-breeding dispersal.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common to uncommon in South Africa; somewhat uncommon elsewhere and generally local. Density in Botswana and N South Africa (N Limpopo... read more

    Recommended citation

    Summers-Smith, D. (2019). Great Sparrow (Passer motitensis). 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 https://www.hbw.com/node/60938 on 19 August 2019).