House Sparrow

Pest Stats
Male – Grey and brown; light bay on wings; dark throat. Female – darker underneath; no dark throat
Height 12cm–15cm Weight 28g


The house sparrow is a small bird typically of approximately 16cms in length. Females and young birds are coloured pale brown and grey, and males have brighter black, white, and brown markings.

Spreading quickly due to its lack of natural enemies and adaptive traits, the house sparrow has an ability to nest in urban structures, eat urban scraps and a large breeding capacity are some of these adaptive traits. Their legs and toes are favoured for branch perching and their short conical bills are ideal for seed cracking. Their diet consists of seeds and grains, as well as fruits, vegetables, human table scraps and insects. They are boisterous, intelligent birds that roost in noisy flocks on branches of trees and under eaves of houses.


House sparrows build large nests relative to size which function as the centre of all activity. They prefer small, enclosed, places such as house shutters, drainage piping, and building rafters and corrugated metal sliding. They will build a spherical nest in a tree or another exposed place if they have no other option. The building material will be stick, with an inside lining of grass, string, fabrics, and straw. The nest will often hold several families.

House sparrows are aggressive birds and will often force out other birds from the territories. They are flocking birds and will gather in the thousands to take over feeding and roosting areas.


The House Sparrow was introduced from Britain, between 1863 and 1870, firstly in Victoria, but later into other areas including Sydney, Brisbane and Hobart. It quickly established itself in urban areas throughout eastern Australia.


House sparrows are often a nuisance in urban areas like manufacturing and food processing plants. Gutters and drainage pipes clogged with sparrow nests can back up and cause extensive water damage and fires have been attributed to electrical shorts from machinery housing sparrow nests. Faeces can lead to structural damage from the uric acid in droppings, plus the bacteria, fungal agents and parasites in the faeces also pose a health risk.


The most effective method of control is to exclude sparrows from the area using netting with no gaps or crevices for the birds to pass through. The only ledge deterrent systems that are truly effective against sparrows are electrified ledge systems with the intermittent pulse. Sparrow traps are quite effective at trapping small quantities of sparrows. When practical, the trapping program should be combined with a nest removal program that will reduce the population over time. Sparrows generally do not react to audio or visual products, except occasionally in areas to which they are not very committed (new to area).


Photos and information are provided by GlobeAustralia.

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