- For the Sparrow air-to-air missile, see AIM-7 Sparrow.
- For the Sparrow Record Label, see Sparrow Records.
This article is about the Old World sparrows in the family Passeridae. The closely related finches of the equatorial regions and Australasia are often also classed as members of the Passeridae: for these see estrildid finch.
American sparrows are not closely related, and these are placed in the family Emberizidae along with the buntings.
The Hedge Sparrow or Dunnock (Prunella modularis) is a sparrow in name only, a relic of the medieval practice by which any small bird was called "sparrow".
Sparrows are small passerine birds. There are 35 species in the Old World sparrow family Passeridae. The differences between different species of sparrow can be very subtle; in general, sparrows tend to be small plump brownish or greyish birds with short tails and short powerful beaks.
Sparrows are seed-eaters, and they also consume small insects. A few species scavenge for food around cities, and like seagulls they will happily eat virtually anything in small quantities.
Old World sparrows are found naturally in Europe, Africa and Asia. They do not occur naturally in Australia or the Americas, but the early settlers imported some species into these continents, and they quickly naturalised, particularly in urban and degraded areas.
House Sparrows are now found throughout North America, in every state of Australia except for Western Australia, and over much of heavily populated parts of South America. Eurasian Tree Sparrows are also present, but unlike the House Sparrow, are not a serious pest. Eurasian Tree Sparrows occasionally arrive in Western Australia aboard cargo vessels, but so far they have been captured and removed before they could establish a breeding colony in the state.
There are four genera of Old World sparrows.
- Passer, the true sparrows
- Saxaul Sparrow , Passer ammodendri
- House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
- Spanish Sparrow, Passer hispaniolensis
- Sind Sparrow , Passer pyrrhonotus
- Somali Sparrow , Passer castanopterus
- Cinnamon Sparrow or Russet Sparrow, Passer rutilans
- Pegu Sparrow or Plain-backed Sparrow, Passer flaveolus
- Dead Sea Sparrow, Passer moabiticus
- Rufous Sparrow , Passer motitensis
- Socotra Sparrow , Passer insularis
- Iago Sparrow or Cape Verde Sparrow, Passer iagoensis
- Cape Sparrow or Mossie, Passer melanurus
- Grey-headed Sparrow, Passer griseus
- Swainson's Sparrow , Passer swainsonii
- Parrot-billed Sparrow , Passer gongonensis
- Swaheli Sparrow , Passer suahelicus
- Southern Grey-headed Sparrow , Passer diffusus
- Desert Sparrow , Passer simplex
- Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Passer montanus
- Sudan Golden Sparrow , Passer luteus
- Arabian Golden Sparrow , Passer euchlorus
- Chestnut Sparrow , Passer eminibey
- Petronia, the rock sparrows
- Yellow-spotted Petronia , Petronia pyrgita
- Chestnut-shouldered Petronia , Petronia xanthocollis
- Yellow-throated Petronia , Petronia superciliaris
- Bush Petronia , Petronia dentata
- Rock Sparrow, Petronia petronia
- Carpospiza, Pale Rockfinch
- Pale Rockfinch , Carpospiza brachydactyla
- Montifringilla, the snow finches
- White-winged Snowfinch, Montifringilla nivalis
- Black-winged Snowfinch , Montifringilla adamsi
- White-rumped Snowfinch , Montifringilla taczanowskii
- Père David's Snowfinch , Montifringilla davidiana
- Rufous-necked Snowfinch , Montifringilla ruficollis
- Blanford's Snowfinch , Montifringilla blanfordi
- Afghan Snowfinch , Montifringilla theresae