Bird Sightings : House Sparrow
(Sparrow, Spug, Phillip Sparrow, Spadge, Spadger, Spuggy, Sporrow, Spaky, Spjugg, Sparrag, Spyug, Speug, Squidgie, Spadwick, Sparrer, Sprog, Brown Budgie )
Gaelic : Gealbhonn, Glaisean
Photography © Kirsty Macdonald
Carloway - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
"Thought you might be interested to see these pics I took last week.
Martin RSPB said:
it would appear to be a House Sparrow with some sort of aberrant plumage.The term 'lecustic' often gets used for birds like this. Basically it means 'washed out' and I always think of it as one step on the way to being albino.
Glenn and I are delighted to have a different wee bird in with our sparrows - even if it turns out not to be very exotic as we first thought!! (We thought it might be a desert sparrow as it was the only thing like it in our books........probably a bit cold for it up here!)"
The "leucistic" or "aberrant" House Sparrow you have on the website is in fact the carrier of a sex-linked Cinnamon Gene and is a female.
The R.S.P.B dont seem to accept that this can happen with Birds for some inexplicable reason but i can asure you it can.
Compared to a normal House Sparrow, the bird photographed could be seen as "washed out" or leusictic. And i cant argue with "aberrant" as the bird in question is obviously different.
.This lighter coloured Sparrow is what is known as a Cinnamon mutation. This gene is sex-linked and the bird is most probably a female. Albinos are different colour variations carrying different genes than that of the Cinnamon and it is just not possible for a Cinnamon to become an albino.
Our Sparrow photographs
- House Sparrow
- Passer domesticus
- Gaelic : Gealbhonn, Glaisean
- UK RED LIST. Resident breeder 2.9 million breeding pairs in summer (Declining) BTO
- WI: Common resident breeder(1000 -10,000 breeding pairs)
- Breeding: Nests, feeds & roosts in communal colonies. Nests under eaves, holes (masonry, rocks) in ivy etc, sea-cliffs, bushes
Most widespread bird on the planet: Wherever man builds sparrows come or are introduced: Europe, Africa (sub-Sahara), Asia etc (in Australia it was introduced as pest control!)
- Diet: Ground-feeder: Seeds & shoots, berries, scraps, butterfies, flowers (young mostly insect larvae)
- Male: grey crown, cheeks & below. Black on throat, upper breast & between bill & eyes. Bill in summer blue-black. Legs brown. In winter plumage dulled & bill yellowish-brown. Female has no black on head or throat, no grey crown; above streaked brown. Juveniles deeper brown, buff instead of white. Bill dull yellow. (Tree Sparrow has chestnut not grey crown, 2 wing bars, black patches on cheeks)
- Max recorded age 19yrs 9mths, average 3yrs
- Listen to a House Sparrow (RSPB site)
- Similar birds: Tree Sparrow
Two or more Sparrows are called a tribe or a host of sparrows
A House Sparrow nest was found 1800ft down a coal mine shaft! (the birds lived on scraps provided by the miners)
House Sparrows have a reputation for promiscuity, but a study showed illegitimacy amongst humans living in a block of flats runs at about the same rate as amongst the residents of a sparrow colony
"All young House Sparrows look similar to adult females when they leave the nest. However they go through a moult during late summer/early autumn and young males take on the appearance of adult males only after this is completed. I thought I would mention this as some folk think all young House Sparrows are females! Another interesting fact...these birds do not moult their tail and flight feathers until the following year. They are easy prey as it is and this would only make them more vulnerable so nature gives them a wee helping hand by allowing them to hang on to these important feathers, giving them the best possible chance to evade Sparrowhawks etc"
"Hi, we had sparrows nesting in our due-to-be demolished porch this summer and had to reschedule our plans (cancelled the builders). We forgot they the sparrows would have a second family and ended up having to cancel the builders a second time. Decided we quite liked the old porch in the end and are not going to pull it down after all! Are the sparrows likely to nest there next year?"
Katie M, Stornoway, 8th December 2007
Yes! and there are records of House Sparrows having 4 broods in a single year...a female can lay 25 eggs in a year in some parts of the world.
On the subject of House Sparrows nesting I asked Frank Stark when he reckoned they started eyeing up potential nest sites.
" I suspect the bonded pairs decide on the actual nesting site closer to the time of breeding, However,House Sparrows roost in some nest boxes all year round . By doing this they become aware of potential nest sites, so take advantage of this by erecting nest boxes now." Frank
House Sparrow records in the Western Isles
Common (1000 -10,000 breeding pairs) resident breeder
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)
On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the House Sparrow is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.
(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
Other local bird photographs
Sources of information for the bird sightings section