Family Old World Sparrows (Passeridae)

Least Concern

White Nile Sparrow (Passer shelleyi)


French: Moineau de Shelley German: Nilsperling Spanish: Gorrión de Shelley
Other common names: White Nile Rufous Sparrow, Shelley's Sparrow, Shelley's Rufous Sparrow

Passer shelleyi


, 1891,

Lado, southern South Sudan


See P. motitensis (which see). Treated as conspecific with P. cordofanicus and P. rufocinctus by some recent authors#R#R. Monotypic.


SE South Sudan, Uganda (mainly E), extreme W Kenya, S & E Ethiopia and NW Somalia.

Descriptive notes

13–15 cm. Male has pale blue-grey crown and nape to upper mantle, black lores, crescent-shaped chestnut band and thin black line from behind eye extending to side of... read more


Few details. Musical chirps and harsher scratchy calls reported.


Mainly open grassy savanna with trees, at 1000–1700 m, extending into semi-desert on the one... read more

Food and feeding

Little information. Feeds mainly on the ground, presumably on seeds and insects.


Sept–Nov and Mar–Jun. Breeds in small colonies. Nest built by both sexes, ovoid in shape, domed, with entrance on side, loosely... read more


No information.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Moderately common in Ethiopia, fairly common in Uganda, and rare in Kenya; uncommon to rare elsewhere.

Recommended citation

Summers-Smith, D. (2019). White Nile Sparrow (Passer shelleyi). 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 7 December 2019).