Tree Sparrow

Tree Sparrow

name = Tree Sparrow
status = LC | status_system = IUCN3.1

image_caption = Adult plumage
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
ordo = Passeriformes
familia = Passeridae
genus = "Passer"
species = "P. montanus"
binomial = "Passer montanus"
binomial_authority = (Linnaeus, 1758)

The Tree Sparrow, "Passer montanus", breeds over most of Europe and Siberia, and allied forms occur in other parts of Asia. It has been introduced to Australia, and the United States (where it is known as the Eurasian Tree Sparrow or German Sparrow to differentiate it from the native, unrelated American Tree Sparrow), where German immigrants introduced it to the area around St. Louis in the 1870s. From there, it has slowly expanded its range into Illinois and Missouri. Changes in farming methods have meant that this species is declining in some parts of western Europe.


The Tree Sparrow is approximately 12.5–14 cm long. The adult's crown and nape are rich chestnut, and on the white cheeks and ear-coverts there are a triangular black patch; the chin and throat are often stated to be black, but are in fact a much richer shade of dark grey. Two distinct though narrow white bars cross the brown wings. In summer the bill is lead-blue, and in winter almost black. The legs are pale brown and the irides hazel. The sexes are practically alike.

The young, even in the nest, closely resemble their parents. They are said to be duller, and the face pattern is less distinct. The breast and belly are browner than in the adult.

The Tree Sparrow's voice is more shrill than the House Sparrow's; the call is a shorter "chip", and the song, consisting of modulated chirps, is more musical. Their songs are said to be consistently in the key of G Major.

This bird is often confused with the larger House Sparrow, but its rich brown, almost coppery head, the black patch on its white cheeks, and the double white wing bar, together with its slighter and more graceful build, are distinctive.

Habitat and breeding

The Tree Sparrow is rural in Europe, but replaces its relative as a town bird in parts of Asia. In the Philippines, it can be located in both rural areas, cities, and towns, where they can be seen gathering and perching along electric wires, especially in twilight. In Australia, it is found in some rural and semi-rural districts, but not cities. The small American population is sometimes referred to as "German Sparrows", to distinguish it from the native species as well as the vast numbers of "English" House Sparrows.

Though occasionally nesting in isolated trees, it is a gregarious bird at all seasons, and a grove of old trees with a plentiful supply of hollows, or a disused quarry, are favourite sites for the colony; what it likes is a hole in which to put its untidy nest, composed of hay, grass, wool or other material and lined with feathers.

Some of the nests are not actually in holes in rock, but are built among roots of overhanging furze or other bushes. The haunts of man are not always shunned, for old thatch in a barn or cottage will shelter a colony. A domed nest, like that of the House Sparrow, is sometimes built in the old nest of a Magpie or other bird. The four to six eggs, usually five, are smaller and, as a rule, browner than those of the House Sparrow. They vary considerably, and frequently the markings are massed at one end. In most clutches one egg is lighter and differs in markings from the others.

Cultural depictions

* The fluttering courtship movements of sparrows, the Tree Sparrow in particular, inspired the Japanese traditional dance "suzume odori", literally "sparrow dance".
* In the Philippines, where it is known as "maya", the Tree Sparrow is the most common bird in the cities. Although many urban Filipinos think it was the national bird, the former national bird of the Philippines is actually the Black-headed Munia [cite book |last=Kennedy |first=Robert |coauthors=et al. |title=A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines | isbn= 0198546688] , another species also known as "maya".
* The Tree Sparrow plays a major role in the manga series, "Sparrow", as the symbol of life in battle.


Images A-C show the nest of a Tree Sparrow made under a small space in the roof tiles of a wooden house in Japan. The nest is bowl-shaped, 5–6 cm in diameter, and about 4 cm deep. The egg is grey marked with light brownish, 1.5 cm long and 1 cm across. The material of the nest is mainly grass. A roof tile is about 30 cm square.



* Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern

Further reading

"Note: the following bibliography is for the Eurasian Tree Sparrow (North America)".


* Barlow, J. C., and S. N. Leckie. 2000. "Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)". In "The Birds of North America", No. 560 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.


* Briskie JV. (2006). "Introduced birds as model systems for the conservation of endangered native birds". Auk. vol 123, no 4. p. 949-957.

* Dinsmore JJ. (1998). "Iowa's avifauna: Recent changes and prospects for the future". Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science. vol 105, no 3. p. 115-122.

* Fanny OID, Yuda P & Jati WN. (2006). "Nesting niche partition between the Java Sparrow and Eurasian Tree Sparrow in the Prambanan temples complex". Journal of Ornithology. p. 1) 165, AUG 2006.

* Holz PH, Beveridge I & Ross T. (2005). "Knemidocoptes intermedius in wild superb lyrebirds (Menura novaehallandiae)". Australian Veterinary Journal. vol 83, no 6. p. 374-375.

* Koes RF. (1988). "Eurasian Tree Sparrow in Manitoba Canada". Blue Jay. vol 46, no 1. p. 34-35.

* Koes RF. (1991). "Additions to the Manitoba Bird List 1985-1990". Blue Jay. vol 49, no 4. p. 202-207.

* Lang AL & Barlow JC. (1987). "Syllable Sharing among North America Populations of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow". Condor. vol 89, no 4. p. 746-751.

* Lang AL & Barlow JC. (1997). "Cultural revolution in the Eurasian Tree Sparrow: Divergence between introduced and ancestral". Condor. vol 99, no 2. p. 413.

* Lee KA, Martin LB, Hasselquist D, Ricklefs RE & Wikelski M. (2006). "Contrasting adaptive immune defenses and blood parasite prevalence in closely related Passer sparrows". Oecologia. vol 150, no 3. p. 383-392.

* Lee KA, Martin LB & Wikelski MC. (2005). "Responding to inflammatory challenges is less costly for a successful avian invader, the house sparrow (Passer domesticus), than its less-invasive congener". Oecologia. vol 145, no 2. p. 244-251.

* Lee KA, Wikelski M & Hasselquist D. (2003). "Sex influences immune responses differently in the house sparrow and a monomorphic congener, the Eurasian Tree Sparrow". Integrative & Comparative Biology. vol 43, no 6.

* Pinowski J, Haman A, Jerzak L, Pinowska B, Barkowska Moa, Grodzki A & Haman K. (2006). "The thermal properties of some nests of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus". Journal of Thermal Biology. vol 31, no 7. p. 573-581.

* St Louis VL & Barlow JC. (1987). "Comparisons between Morphometric and Genetic Differentiation among Populations of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer-Montanus". Wilson Bulletin. vol 99, no 4. p. 628-641.

* St Louis VL & Barlow JC. (1988). "Genetic Differentiation among Ancestral and Introduced Populations of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer-Montanus". Evolution. vol 42, no 2. p. 266-276.

* St Louis VL & Barlow JC. (1991). "Morphometric Analyses of Introduced and Ancestral Populations of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow". Wilson Bulletin. vol 103, no 1. p. 1-12.

* VanderWerf EA, Wiles GJ, Marshall AP & Knecht M. (2006). "Observations of migrants and other birds in Palau, April-May 2005, including the first Micronesian record of a Richard's Pipit". Micronesica. vol 39, no 1. p. 21-29.

* Veiga JP. (1990). "A Comparative Study of Reproductive Adaptations in House and Tree Sparrows". Auk. vol 107, no 1. p. 45-59.

* Vice DS, Vice DL & Gibbons JC. (2005). "Multiple predations of wild birds by brown treesnakes (Boiga irregularis) on Guam". Micronesica. vol 38, no 1. p. 121-124.

* Warren PS, Katti M, Ermann M & Brazel A. (2006). "Urban bioacoustics: it's not just noise". Animal Behaviour. vol 71, p. 491-502.

* Wong M. (1983). "Effect of Unlimited Food Availability on the Breeding Biology of Wild Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer-Montanus in West Malaysia". Wilson Bulletin. vol 95, no 2. p. 287-294.

External links

* [ ARkive] Photographs, video.
* [ Tree Sparrow videos] on the Internet Bird Collection
* [ Ageing and sexing (PDF) by Javier Blasco-Zumeta]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tree sparrow — Tree Tree (tr[=e]), n. [OE. tree, tre, treo, AS. tre[ o], tre[ o]w, tree, wood; akin to OFries. tr[=e], OS. treo, trio, Icel. tr[=e], Dan. tr[ae], Sw. tr[ a], tr[ a]d, Goth. triu, Russ. drevo, W. derw an oak, Ir. darag, darog, Gr. dry^s a tree,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tree sparrow — Sparrow Spar row, n. [OE. sparwe, AS. spearwa; akin to OHG. sparo, G. sperling, Icel. sp[ o]rr, Dan. spurv, spurre, Sw. sparf, Goth. sparwa; originally, probably, the quiverer or flutterer, and akin to E. spurn. See {Spurn}, and cf. {Spavin}.] 1 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tree sparrow — /ˈtri spæroʊ / (say tree sparoh) noun 1. Also, Eurasian tree sparrow. a small bird, Passer montanus, of the family Passeridae, the male of which has a chestnut crown and black cheek spots, inhabiting urban areas, woodlands and farmland; native to …  

  • Tree Sparrow — karklažvirblis statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Passer montanus angl. Tree Sparrow vok. Feldsperling …   Paukščių anatomijos terminai

  • tree sparrow — noun 1. Eurasian sparrow smaller than the house sparrow • Syn: ↑Passer montanus • Hypernyms: ↑sparrow, ↑true sparrow • Member Holonyms: ↑Passer, ↑genus Passer 2. finch com …   Useful english dictionary

  • tree sparrow — noun Date: circa 1770 1. a Eurasian sparrow (Passer montanus) that has a black spot on the ear coverts 2. a North American sparrow (Spizella arborea) that has a single dark spot on the breast and breeds in Alaska and northern Canada and winters… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • tree sparrow — 1. a Eurasian bird, Passer montanus, related to but smaller than the house sparrow. 2. a North American finch, Spizella arborea, common in winter in the northern U.S. [1760 70] * * * …   Universalium

  • American Tree Sparrow — Taxobox name = American Tree Sparrow status = LC status system = iucn2.3 image width = 256px regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Aves ordo = Passeriformes familia = Emberizidae genus = Spizella species = S. arborea binomial = Spizella… …   Wikipedia

  • Eurasian tree sparrow — noun → tree sparrow (def. 1) …  

  • American tree sparrow — amerikinė žvirblinė starta statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Spizella arborea angl. American tree sparrow vok. Baumammer, f rus. воробьиная овсянка, f; древесная воробьиная овсянка, f pranc. bruant hudsonien, m ryšiai:… …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

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