English House Sparrow

From Ohio History Central
Without question the most deplorable event in the history of American ornithology was the introduction of the English Sparrow.

- W.L. Dawson, The Birds of Ohio, 1903


Scientific Name: Passer domesticus
Habitat: Cities and farms
Adult Weight: 1 oz.
Adult Body Length: 5.5 - 6.5 inches
Nesting Period: April - August
Broods Per Year: 2 - 3
Clutch Size: 4 - 6
Foods: Seeds, grains, small fruits, and garbage scraps


This introduced species is very used to living near humans and has become a nuisance animal by nesting in porches, sheds, garages and other structures.

Because they are aggressive, house sparrows have invaded the habitat of many native songbirds, forcing many of these species to leave or causing their numbers to decline.


19th Century

Introduced to the United States in the 1850s, the English house sparrow quickly spread. They were released in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Warren, Ohio in 1869. During the 19th Century, they thrived around humans, eating grain that was left on the ground or found in horse manure and trash.

20th Century

Their populations peaked in the early 1900s. When automobiles replaced horses and with improvements in farm machinery, a large food source was lost.

Since the mid-1960s, house sparrow populations have declined because of farming practices and severe winters. Another cause of their decline is the aggressive behavior of another introduced species, the House Finch.

Although their numbers have declined, Ohio still has one of the largest house sparrow populations in the United States.

See Also


  1. Peterjohn, John. The Birds of Ohio; Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN; 1989.