Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be declining but it is not thought to be declining sufficiently to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Rich et al. (2004) estimated the global population to number 20,000,000 individuals. In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 24,000,000-38,200,000 pairs, which equates to 47,900,000-76,400,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c.25% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 191,000,000-306,000,000 individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.
The population was suspected to be stable overall in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. However in Europe, trends between 1980 and 2013 show that populations have undergone a moderate decline (EBCC 2015). The overall trend is therefore estimated to be decreasing.
In the west of its range this species is found mainly in cultivated areas with hedgerow trees, orchards, gardens and farmyards and less commonly in light woodland. In the east it is found increasingly not only in built-up areas, but also in open arid country. In the Far East where P. domesticus is absent it is common in built-up areas and is even found in urban centres. In the north of its range the breeding season begins from April or May and to January in the extreme south of Asia. It breeds in loose colonies. The nest is constructed of dried grass and rootlets, lined with feathers and animal fur and is domed (even when in a hole), with as entrance on the side. It is mostly sited in a hole in a tree, earth bank, cliff or artificial structure, sometimes in the base of a large nest of heron (Ardeidae), crow (Corvidae) or bird of prey. Occasionally it is a free-standing nest in a tree, but then usually hidden in thick conifer or creepers. Clutches are two to seven eggs. The diet is mainly seeds and it prefers smaller seeds of low herbs and grasses, including cultivated cereals but it also takes a significant proportion of animal food (Summers-Smith 2016). In Europe the species is largely sedentary (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997). In central Asia, the species makes more pronounced movements. Birds in the extreme north of the range withdraw to the south and those living in the countryside tend to move into built-up areas (Summers-Smith 2016).
Declines in this species in Europe may be a result of changes in agricultural practices such as the increased use of pesticides and herbicides and the autumn sowing of cereals which have lead to decreases in food for this species (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).
Conservation Actions Underway
In 1996 the species was placed on the U.K. Red List of Species of National Conservation Concern (Summers-Smith 2016).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Management should create invertebrate-rich habitats, such as small-scale wetlands, and aim to increase heterogeneity in land use type in order to to provide the range of invertebrates at the required abundance for this species (Field et al. 2004).
Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2017) Species factsheet: Passer montanus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/10/2017. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2017) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/10/2017.