The House Sparrow is a familiar bird that has declined sharply and even disappeared from some parts of Britain.
The male House Sparrow has a chestnut brown back with black streaks, while the underparts, rump and crown are grey. The nape is chestnut brown, the cheeks are dull white, and they have a black eye stripe and bib. They also have a light wing bar. The beak is a yellow-brown in winter, but black in the summer, and the legs are pale brown. The female is paler and lacks the grey crown, white cheeks, black bib and eye stripe and chestnut brown nape, but has a straw coloured stripe behind the eye. Juveniles are like the adult female. The size of the bib indicates the dominance of the male bird within its community; the bigger the bib, the more dominant the bird.
The House Sparrow will eat just about anything: sunflower hearts, high energy seed, peanuts, suet, kitchen scraps, etc. During the spring, House Sparrows often damage plants with yellow flowers, such as crocus, for reasons that are not yet known.
House Sparrows live in colonies around people and so nest in holes or crevices in buildings, or among creepers growing on buildings. The nest is an untidy domed or cup-shaped structure of rubbish: paper, straw, string. They will readily use nest boxes and occasionally oust tits that are already nesting. The eggs are white with grey or blackish speckles, smooth and glossy. They are about 23 mm by 16 mm, and weigh about 3 grams (or one tenth of an ounce).
The male and female take turns incubating the eggs, but the female does most of the incubating. Both adults feed the young.
House Sparrows are among the most sedentary British birds with even juveniles nesting not too far from their parents. In late summer, after the breeding season, House Sparrows often disappear from their colonies for a few weeks to feed on grain and weed seeds in nearby farmland or grassland.