House Sparrow Passer domesticus


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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid 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.

Population justification
Rich et al. (2004) estimated the global population at > c.540,000,000 individuals. However, the European population is estimated at 134,000,000-196,000,000 pairs, which equates to 269,000,000-392,000,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 30% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 896,000,000-1,310,000,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. National population sizes have been estimated at c.100-100,000 breeding pairs in China and c.100-100,000 breeding pairs in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
In Europe, trends between 1980 and 2013 show that populations have undergone a moderate decline (EBCC 2015).

Distribution and population

Passer domesticus has an extremely large range and occurs in most parts of the world.


This species is often associated with man, living around buildings from isolated farms to urban centres and showing a preference for suburbs. In the south of its range it is more frequently found in open country, and has been recorded as breeding in small isolated colonies away from humans. In Central Asia and Afghanistan, the species is mainly a summer visitor, where it is confined to open country in the area of overlap with resident P. montanus; farther north, in Siberia, the two species live side by side in built-up areas. It breeds from February to September, although timing varies with latitude. It breeds in loose colonies and nests are constructed mainly of plant stems, lined with feathers or other soft material. Its preferred site is a hole in a building, cliff or tree. Clutches are two to five eggs. The diet is mainly vegetable material, particularly seeds of grasses, cultivated cereals and low herbs, but also buds, berries and wide range of household scraps. It does take some animal matter (c. 10% of the diet in summer months). The species is mostly resident with some limited withdrawal of populations breeding at high latitudes and altitudes to less cold areas in winter (Summers-Smith et al. 2015).


Declines in western Europe have been attributed to a decrease in availability of suitable invertebrate food necessary for rearing young as well as possible reduced fitness of those young that fledge successfully (Summers-Smith et al. 2015). This may be as 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

Conservation Actions Underway
The species was Red-listed in the U.K. in 2002 and listed as Near-threatened in Germany as a result of declines (Summers-Smith et al. 2015).

Conservation Actions Proposed
The conservation and habitat enhancement of even the smallest parks and gardens may be key in addressing the decline of this species in many cities (Summers-Smith et al. 2015).


Text account compilers
Westrip, J., Butchart, S., Symes, A., Ekstrom, J., Ashpole, J, Derhé, M.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Passer domesticus. Downloaded from on 08/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 08/12/2023.