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The House sparrows or English sparrows belong to the family Passeridae and the order Passeriformes.
They are known by various names as true sparrows or old world sparrows.
The sparrows are so familiar and commonly found in various cities of India in large numbers.The quick classification of this Sparrow is given below,
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The House sparrows are about 14-18 centimetres (5.5–7.1 in) long.
They weigh between 24 and 39.5 grams (0.85 and 1.39 oz). Usually the females weigh lesser than males.Males look larger during the winter, and females look larger during the breeding season. The plumage of the Sparrow includes shades of grey and brown.
The sexes differ by few variations, the female is mostly buff, and the male generally has a bolder markings and a reddish back. The male tends to be duller in fresh non-breeding plumage, with white tips on many feathers.
The twelve subspecies of house sparrow are divided into two groups, the Oriental indicus group and the Palaearctic domesticus group.Birds under the indicus group have white cheeks while domesticus group have grey cheeks. The House Sparrow could be mistaken with a number of other seed-eating birds, especially with other passerine birds.
The House Sparrow is so sociable and gregarious at all seasons. They often form flocks with other types of birds while feeding. Its nests are usually grouped together in bunches, and it keeps them engaged in a various social activities like dust and water bathing, and "social singing" wherein they form flocks in bushes. The House Sparrow prefers feeding on the ground, at times could be seen in flocks in trees and bushes.
The sparrow call is usually transcribed as "chur-chur-r-r-it-it-it-it". The call varies among the species by a short and incessant chriping. They make various calls like "chirrup", "tschilp" or "philip" when they are in flock, to invite pairs, while resting and to proclaim nest ownership.
During the breeding season the male gives this call repetitively at a speed without any rhythm, which is referred as "ecstatic call". Aggressive male House Sparrows and females during the breeding season use the call transcribed as "chur-chur-r-r-it-it-it-it". They make a nasal alarm call, transcribed as "quer", and it gives a shrill "chree" call when they are in great distress.
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Many of these birds do not fly more than a few kilometres.
Hence, a limited migration is seen in all regions.
Few young birds move to a long distance especially on coasts, and the birds on the mountain move to lower altitudes during the winter season. Two subspecies, bactrianus and parkini are known to migrate predominantely.
They are commonly found in human settlements and breed indoors, especially in factories, zoos, and warehouses.It is most abundant in wheat-growing areas of the country. It adapts itself to a variety of climates, but prefers living in drier conditions, typically in moist tropical climates. They have adaptations to live in dry areas by tolerating high salt and an ability to survive without water just by intaking berries.
Sparrows are so adaptable and eat food which is available. They mainly prefer seeds, grains and weeds. They could be seen in the grain storage places, super markets, in hotel walls feeding on the foods that are available there. House Sparrow needs grit to digest the hard seeds it feeds on. Grit could be either stone, grains of masonry, or the shells of eggs or snails are preferred. The House Sparrow feeds largely on food available in human settlements such as bread, though it prefers raw seeds especially in urban areas.
The House Sparrow also feeds on buds, berries, beetles, caterpillars, ants, sawflies, bugs, aphids, dipteran flies and fruits like grapes and cherries other than seeds.
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These species are one of the birds which are commonly found in the Indian subcontinent.
Different species of house sparrows are found in various Indian states like West Bengal, Tamilnadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and other states as well. The below list of species are found in India,
Before the start of the breeding season, the unmated males occupy nesting sites and call incessantly to attract females towards them. The male droops and shivers his wing, pushes his head, raise and spread his tail and display his bib, when a female approaches the male. These species are monogamous, and typically mate for life. Male House Sparrows keep guarding their mates carefully to avoid being cuckolded, and the extra-pair often occur away from the nesting sites.
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Some birds do not find a nest and a mate, and instead may act as helper for mated pairs,
which would replace if the mate is lost.They breed in the breeding seaon followed by hatching of eggs.The clutches consists of 4 to 5 eggs in general.The eggs range from white, bluish-white or greenish-white.
They are subelliptical shaped. The length varies from 20–22 millimetres (0.79–0.87 in), 14–16 millimetres (0.55–0.63 in) in width and weighs about 2.9 grams. The size of the egg reduces slightly from laying to hatching. The yolk consists of 25 percent of the egg, 68 percent of the egg white, and 7 percent of the shell.
The female develops a brood patch of bare skin during this period and plays a main part in incubating her eggs. The male helps just by covering the eggs but don't perform incubation activity. The female spends most of its night in incubation, while the male roosts near the nest during this period. Eggs hatch between 11–14 days. They young open its eyes at the 8th day. During this period the young ones are fed by their parents.
The young remain in the nest between 11 and 23 days. Then they become capable of flying. Eventhough, the House Sparrow's nesting sites are varied, it prefers the shelter of a hole. Nests are usually built in eaves and crevices of houses. It excavates is nests in sandy banks or dead branches. Sometimes they use the nest of other birds which are left unused for a long time. The sparrows also use the hole in the cliffs as their nest. Usually the nest is domed.
The nest it builds has an outer layer of stems and roots; a middle part is layered with dead leaves and grass, and a lining of feathers, as well as paper and other soft materials. The building of the nest is started by the unmated male and the attracted female assists in building. The nest of House Sparrow support a wide range of scavenging insects, like nest flies and 1400 species of beetle.
Since House Sparrow has a wide range and population, it is categorized as least concern in IUCN Red list. However we could see the population is decreasing in many parts of India. The various causes for this decline in population include predation, electromagnetic radiation from mobile phone towers and diseases. Other factors may include lack in nesting sites and insects. The usage of unleaded petrol generates toxic compounds like methyl nitrite which is a great threat to the house sparrow.
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Also because of the lack of grains and worms they are found to be declining in India.
The decline is found in other parts of World as well since they face the mentioned threat across the world.
World Sparrow Day has been celebrated on 20th March all over the world since 2010 inorder to raise awareness of threats that the House Sparrow encounters. Various consevation measures are taken to save sparrows from being disappearing compeletely.
2. Eventhough House sparrows are not water birds, they swim nicely.
3. Other sparrow species include Black-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow and Harris's Sparrow.
4. The House Sparrow frequently bath in dust. It throws dust and soil over its feathers as if it baths in water.
5. These species hop on ground rather than walking.
6. House sparrows usually reuse the nests they built first.