House Sparrow

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House sparrow (Passeriformes: Passeridae: Passer domesticus) photographed 03/15/2013 near Clayton, Michigan.

One of the most common birds in North America is the House Sparrow (Passeriformes: Passeridae: Passer domesticus). These prolific birds are found almost exclusively near human habitation, preferring to make nests along the edges of buildings. After their first introduction from Europe in 1851, House Sparrows have followed human settlers to populate most of the continent.  

As part of their conquest these aggressive little sparrows have long fought with native birds for resources. They’ve been observed attacking at least 70 native species to obtain or defend food, territory, or nests. House Sparrows often evict Eastern Bluebirds and other vulnerable natives from nest boxes, denying them nesting space and threatening their long-term survival. The harmful behaviors of House Sparrows have spurred many people to try to control them.

It dawned on me that while House Sparrows are often demonized by people, they’re really just a reflection of ourselves. Along with us they have conquered a continent, aggressively displaced native species, and disrupted the natural order in an endless pursuit for more. House Sparrows seem like a reminder to not only control the impact invasive species have on nature, but control our own impact as well.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Ecology, Organism Interactions, Vertebrate Zoology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to House Sparrow

  1. These sparrows are endangered in the UK, their numbers have dropped by 71%. I guess all species can be fragile given the right circumstances.

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  2. Jeremy Sell says:

    Is the decline because of a disease?

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  3. Nobody seems exactly sure. Possible reasons in towns: A decline in urban gardens, a change in the style of houses (fewer eaves for birds to nest in), gardens being too neat. In the countryside: fewer hedgerows and silos being properly sealed so that birds can’t get at grain stores. Being a small island, I guess these changes are more catastrophic than on a large continent. Although it’s strange that these changes affect one species in particular.

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