Family Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Least Concern

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)


French: Moineau domestique German: Haussperling Spanish: Gorrión común

Fringilla domestica


, 1758,



Sometimes considered conspecific with P. italiae and P. hispaniolensis. Hybridizes with former (itself a hybrid form: see those species) in N Italy and with latter in SE Europe (Balkans), NW Africa, and Cape Verde Is (on São Vicente, where introduced), and evidently with P. castanopterus in Ethiopia and Somalia#R; hybrids with P. montanus regularly reported, particularly where one of the two species rare. Races form two groups, “domesticus group” and “indicus group”, these intergrading where ranges meet. Migratory race bactrianus of “indicus group”, and hence indicus itself, considered by some authorities worthy of full species rank, largely on grounds that it does not interbreed with resident nominate race (which has spread to C Asia in the last century) as well as differences in morphology and ecology; this, however, seems unsustainable as indicus intergrades with persicus, clearly a member of “domesticus group”; lack of interbreeding seems more probably a temporal than a genetic effect. In North America (introduced), birds from W USA described as race plecticus, supposedly paler than nominate, but differences apparently clinal; proposed race maroccanus (from Morocco) synonymized with tingitanus. Nomenclature of introduced populations problematic, as many have differentiated sufficiently to be subspecifically separated from the parent stock; this certainly the case in North America, and also in S Africa (where some populations derived from introduction of indicus from India that have interbred with smaller number of nominate from Europe), and will become an increasing problem as other introduced populations diverge. Twelve subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. d. domesticus (Linnaeus, 1758) – House Sparrow – N & W Europe (S to Iberia and SC France) E in NC Asia (S to Ukraine, N Mongolia and NE China) to mouth of R Amur, locally also Sakhalin and W & E Kamchatka.
  • P. d. balearoibericus Jordans, 1923 – Balearic Is, and S France E (excluding Italy and most Mediterranean islands) to WC Asia Minor.
  • P. d. tingitanus Loche, 1867 – NW Africa (Morocco E to NE Libya).
  • P. d. niloticus Nicoll & Bonhote, 1909 – Egypt (Nile Delta and Nile Valley).
  • P. d. biblicus E. J. O. Hartert, 1904 – SE Turkey, Cyprus and Levant E to NW Iran.
  • P. d. persicus Zarudny & Kudashev, 1916 – C Iran (S of Elburz Mts) E to W & S Afghanistan.
  • P. d. hyrcanus Zarudny & Kudashev, 1916 – SE Azerbaijan and N Iran (N of Elburz Mts).
  • P. d. indicus Jardine & Selby, 1831 – Indian Sparrow – S Israel, S Palestine and much of Arabia E to SE Iran, peninsular India, Sri Lanka and C SE Asia (E to Laos).
  • P. d. rufidorsalis C. L. Brehm, 1855 – Sudan (Nile Valley S to 13° N) and E to Red Sea coast in Eritrea.
  • P. d. hufufae Ticehurst & Cheesman, 1924 – E Arabian Peninsula.
  • P. d. bactrianus Zarudny & Kudashev, 1916 – W Turkmenistan, NE Iran and S Kazakhstan E to Tien Shan, extreme NW China (NW Xinjiang) and NW Pakistan.
  • P. d. parkini Whistler, 1920 – from Kashmir E to Sikkim.
  • Introduced (mainly nominate race and, in South Africa, indicus) in most other inhabited parts of the world, including the Americas and Australasia.

    Descriptive notes

    16–18 cm, 20–39 g ("nominate group"); 14–16·5 cm, 21–33 g ("indicus group"). Very well-known species, those in... read more


    Commonest vocalization a disyllabic "chirrup", used by male at nest-site to indicate... read more


    Primarily associated with man, living around buildings from isolated farms to urban centres,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly vegetable matter, especially seeds of grasses, cultivated cereals and low herbs, but also buds, berries and wide range of household... read more


    Feb–Sept, varying with latitude, but can be interrupted by high temperature and monsoon rains; up to three broods, and occasionally... read more


    Mostly resident; some limited withdrawal of populations breeding at high latitudes and altitudes to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally common to abundant; one of the commonest passerines, natural range having been increased by introductions in most inhabited... read more

    Recommended citation

    Summers-Smith, D., Christie, D.A. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). House Sparrow (Passer domesticus). 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 22 February 2020).