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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The "sparrow" that's not a true sparrow

As you may have discovered, the House Sparrow is an undesireable little bird, and is not really a "sparrow". It has given the true Sparrows (which arrive here in about a month) a bad name. The House Sparrow (sometimes called an English Sparrow) was originally called a "sparrow" only because it looks somewhat like true sparrows. It is not a native North American bird, beung brought to this country against its will in the late 1800s because of its agressiveness and dominating habits.  House Sparrows are still mean, agressive birds that will kill other birds, take over other's nests or chase them away.

Harris' Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
All true sparrows spend the warmer months up north, and migrate to this area only with the advent of cooler weather. (House Sparrows, conversely,  are here all year long).  In north Texas, the true sparrows include Chipping Sparrow, Harris' Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Olive Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Black-Throated Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow and Savannah Sparrow. But NOT what's called a "House Sparrow".

Savannah Sparrow
It may take centuries of evolution but a common backyard bird in north Texas is gradually learning to outcompete the ubiquitous House Sparrow.   The native House Finch is learning how to get and keep the best nesting sites, the best food, etcetera.