Family Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Least Concern

Swainson's Sparrow (Passer swainsonii)


French: Moineau de Swainson German: Swainsonsperling Spanish: Gorrión de Swainson

Pyrgita swainsonii


, 1840,

northern Ethiopia


See P. griseus (below). Monotypic.


Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, N Somalia, E South Sudan and N Kenya; recorded in N Sudan (Port Sudan)#R.

Descriptive notes

16 cm; 27–35 g. Head, neck and underparts are darkish grey, except for small white patch on belly; indistinct paler patch on throat; mantle and back dull brown, rump... read more


Call of male at nest "chirrip" or "chiri-up", similar to that of P. griseus... read more


Found in all habitats other than dense forest, from open country with bush and scrub to cultivated... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly seeds of grasses and cultivated cereals, but no detailed study available. Young fed mainly with insects. Recorded feeding on flowers... read more


Breeds at all times of year, coinciding with rains in different parts of range. Nest domed, with entrance at side, an untidy bundle of... read more


Nomadic outside breeding season, flocks roaming in search of food, but no regular pattern of... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Common or fairly common in almost whole of range; uncommon in Sudan. Apparently little current change in numbers.

Recommended citation

Summers-Smith, D. & Bonan, A. (2019). Swainson's Sparrow (Passer swainsonii). 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 13 December 2019).