Family Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Least Concern

Somali Sparrow (Passer castanopterus)


French: Moineau de Somalie German: Somalisperling Spanish: Gorrión somalí

Passer castanopterus


, 1855,



Has sometimes been treated as conspecific with P. cinnamomeus; similarities between the two in plumage and morphology likely a matter of convergence, rather than close relationship. Hybridizes with P. domesticus in Ethiopia and Somalia#R. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. c. castanopterus Blyth, 1855 – Djibouti, Somalia and E Ethiopia (E from c. 41° E).
  • P. c. fulgens Friedmann, 1931 – extreme S Ethiopia and N Kenya (S to Kapedo and Marsabit).
  • Descriptive notes

    13–14 cm; c. 18 g. Male nominate race breeding has forehead to hindneck bright chestnut, lores and small area behind eye black, ear-coverts and cheek pale creamy grey;... read more


    Poorly known. Call a soft "chirrup", almost identical with that of P. domesticus.


    Semi-arid to arid country with acacias (Acacia), and frequently in towns and villages,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly granivorous, food including seeds of cultivated cereals, and has been recorded as feeding on spilt grain and on undigested grain in... read more


    Season Feb–Jul. Solitary or in loose colonies; sometimes in colonies of P. euchlorus. Open nest flask-shaped, loosely... read more


    Nomadic in large roaming flocks outside breeding season.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Uncommon to rare in Djibouti; locally common elsewhere in range. Very common, at least formerly, in Somalia; present status there not... read more

    Recommended citation

    Summers-Smith, D. (2019). Somali Sparrow (Passer castanopterus). 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 8 December 2019).