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Sparrow

   

Sparrows are small passerine birds. In general, sparrows tend to be small, plump, brown or grey birds with short tails and short powerful beaks. Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects. There are 35 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Namibia.

  • House Sparrow Passer domesticus (I)
  • Great Sparrow Passer motitensis
  • Cape Sparrow Passer melanurus
  • Southern Grey-headed Sparrow Passer diffusus
  • Yellow-throated Petronia Petronia superciliaris

The sparrows, true sparrows, or Old World sparrows in the family Passeridae are small passerine birds. As eight or more species nest in or near buildings, and the House Sparrow and Eurasian Tree Sparrow in particular inhabit cities in large numbers, sparrows may be the most familiar of all wild birds.

Generally, sparrows tend to be small, plump brown-grey birds with short tails and stubby, powerful beaks. The differences between sparrow species can be subtle. They are primarily seed-eaters, though they also consume small insects. A few species scavenge for food around cities and, like gulls or pigeons, will happily eat virtually anything in small quantities. Members of this family range in size from the Chestnut Sparrow (Passer eminibey), at 11.4 cm and 13.4 g, to the Parrot-billed Sparrow (Passer gongonensis), at 18 cm and 42 g. Sparrows are physically similar to other seed-eating birds, such as finches, but have a vestigial dorsal outer primary feather and an extra bone in the tongue.[2]

The Old World true sparrows are indigenous to Europe, Africa and Asia. In Australia and the Americas, early settlers imported some species which quickly naturalised, particularly in urban and degraded areas. House Sparrows, for example, are now found throughout North America, in every state of Australia except Western Australia, and over much of the heavily populated parts of South America.

American sparrows, or New World sparrows, are in a different family, Emberizidae, despite some physical resemblance such as the seed-eater's bill and frequently well-marked heads.

The Hedge Sparrow or Dunnock (Prunella modularis) is similarly unrelated. It is a sparrow in name only, a relic of the old practice of calling any small bird a "sparrow".

   
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