Pennsylvania Sparrow

Identification

The house or English sparrow is a brown, chunky bird about 5 3/4 inches (15 cm) long, and very common in human-made habitats. The male has a distinctive black bib, white cheeks, a chestnut mantle around the gray crown, and chestnut-colored feathers on the upper wings. The female and young are difficult to distinguish from some native sparrows. They have a plain, dingy-gray breast, a distinct, buffy eye stripe, and a streaked back. The black bib and chestnut-colored feathers on the wings are the first signs of male plumage and appear on the young birds within weeks of leaving the nest.

 

Range and Habitat

The house sparrow was first introduced in Brooklyn, New York, from England in 1850 and has spread throughout the continent.

The house sparrow is found in nearly every habitat except dense forest, alpine and desert environments. It prefers human-altered habitats, particularly farm areas.

 

Fun Facts

While still the most common bird in most urban areas, house sparrow numbers have fallen significantly since they peaked in the 1920s, when food and wastes from horses furnished an unlimited supply of food.

Sparrow nests are bulky, roofed affairs, built haphazardly and without the good workmanship displayed by other weaver finches.

Sparrows are loosely monogamous. Both sexes feed and take care of the young, although the female does most of the brooding.

They are aggressive and social, both of which increases their ability to compete with most native birds.

 

Damage Identification

Sparrows damage crops by pecking seeds, seedlings, buds, flowers, vegetables, and maturing fruits. They interfere with the production of livestock, particularly poultry, by consuming and contaminating feed. They often feed in large numbers over a small area, which often causes an area to quickly become over picked.

House sparrow droppings and feathers create janitorial problems as well as hazardous, unsanitary, and odoriferous situations inside and outside of buildings and sidewalks under roosting areas. Damage can also be caused by the pecking of rigid foam insulation inside buildings. The bulky, flammable nests of house sparrows are a potential fire hazard.

Public Health
Because they live in such close association with humans, they are a factor in the dissemination of diseases (chlamydiosis, coccidiosis, erysipeloid, Newcastle’s, parathypoid, pullorum, salmonellosis, transmissible gastroenteritis, tuberculosis, various encephalitis viruses, vibriosis, and yersinosis), internal parasites (acariasis, schistosomiasis, taeniasis, toxoplasmosis, and trichomoniasis), and household pests (bed bugs, carpet beetles, clothes moths, fleas, lice, mites, and ticks).

 

Legal Status

The house sparrow is afforded no legal protection by federal statutes because it is an introduced species. A few states, however, may offer them some protection by requiring permits or otherwise restricting control activities. Check with state or local governments before poisoning or shooting house sparrows.

 

Damage Prevention and Control Methods

Exclusion
Block entrances larger than 3/4 inch (2 cm). Design new buildings or alter old ones to eliminate roosting and nesting places. Install plastic bird netting or overhead lines to protect high-value crops.

Cultural Methods
Remove roosting sites. Plant bird resistant varieties.

Frightening

Fireworks, alarm calls, exploders. Scarecrows, motorized hawks, balloons, kites. 4-Aminopyridine (Avitrol®).

Repellents
Capsicum. Polybutenes. Sharp metal projections (Nixalite® and Cat Claw®).

Toxicants
Fenthion in Rid-A-Bird® toxic perches.

Trapping

Funnel, automatic, and triggered traps. Mist nets.
 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The above information was adapted from PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF WILDLIFE DAMAGE with permission of the editors, Scott E. Hygnstrom, Robert M. Timm, and Gary E. Larson (Cooperative Extension Division, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources University of Nebraska-Lincoln, United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Damage Control, Great Plains Agricultural Council Wildlife Committee).

Our local Pennsylvania offices offer Sparrow services in the following cities: Abbottstown, Abington, Ackermanville, Adamsburg, Adamstown, Akron, Alburtis, Aldan, Allenport, Allentown, Alquippa, Ambler, Apollo, Applewood, Ardmore, Arendtsville, Armagh, Arnold, Arona, Aspinwall, Atglen, Atwood, Audubon, Avalon, Avondale, Avonmore, Bala Cynwyd, Baldwin, Bally, Baltimore, Bangor, Bath, Beallsville, Beaver, Bechtelsville, Bell Acres, Bellevue, Ben Avon, Ben Avon Heights, Bendersville, Bensalem, Bentleyville, Bernville, Bethel Park, Bethel Park, Bethlehem, Big Run, Biglerville, Birdsboro, Blairsville, Blawnox, Blue Bell, Bolivar, Bonneauville, Boyertown, Brackenridge, Braddock, Braddock Hills, Bradford Woods, Brentwood, Bridgeport, Bridgeville, Bristol, Brockway, Brookhaven, Brookville, Bruin, Bryn Athyn, Bryn Mawr, Burgettstown, Butler, California, Callensburg, Callery, Callery, Canonsburg, Carnegie, Carroll Valley, Castle Shannon, Catasaqua, Center Valley, Center Valley, Centerport, Centerville, Chalfant, Chalfont, Chapman, Charleroi, Cherry Tree, Cherry Valley, Chester, Chester Heights, Cheswick, Chicora, Christiana, Churchill, Clairton, Clarion, Claysville, Clifton Heights, Clymer, Coal Center, Coatesville, Cokeburg, Collegeville, Collingdale, Columbia, Colwyn, Connoquenessing, Conshohocken, Coopersburg, Coplay, Coraopolis, Corsica, Crafton, Creekside, Cross Roads, Daisytown, Dallastown, Darby, Dayton, Deemston, Delmont, Delta, Denver, Derry, Dillsburg, Donegal, Donora, Dormont, Douglassville, Dover, Downingtown, Doylestown, Dravosburg, Dublin, Dunlevy, Duquesne, East Bangor, East Berlin, East Brady, East Butler, East Greenville, East Lansdowne, East Mckeesport, East Petersburg, East Pittsburgh, East Prospect, East Vandergrift, East Washington, Easton, Eau Claire, Eddystone, Edgewood, Edgeworth, Edinburg, Elco, Elderton, Elizabeth, Elizabethtown, Elkins Park, Ellsworth, Elverson, Emmaus, Emsworth, Ephrata, Ernest, Etna, Evans City, Export, Fairfield, Fairplay, Fairview, Falls Creek, Fawn Grove, Felton, Finleyville, Finleyville, Fleetwood, Fogelsville, Folcroft, Ford City, Ford Cliff, Forest Hills, Fort Washington, Fountain Hill, Fox Chapel, Fox Chapel, Foxburg, Franklin Park, Franklintown, Freemansburg, Freeport, Gastonville, George G Meade, Gettysburg, Gilbertsville, Gladwyne, Glassport, Glen Campbell, Glen Rock, Glendon, Glenfield, Glenolden, Glenshaw, Glenside, Goldsboro, Green Hills, Green Lane, Green Tree, Greensburg, Greensburg, Greensburg, Hallam, Hamburg, Hanover, Harmony, Harmony, Harrisville, Hatboro, Hatfield, Hawthorn, Haysville, Heidelberg, Hellertown, Hellertown, Homer City, Homestead, Honey Brook, Horsham, Houston, Hulmeville, Hunker, Huntingdon Valley, Hyde Park, Ijamsville, Imperial, Indiana, Indiana Township, Ingram, Irwin, Ivyland, Jacobus, Jeannette, Jefferson, Jefferson, Jefferson Hills, Jenkintown, Jenkintown, Joffre, Karns City, Keedysville, Kenhorst, Kennett Square, King Of Prussia, Kittanning, Knox, Koppel, Kutztown, Kutztown, Ladiesburg, Lancaster, Langeloth, Langhorne, Langhorne Manor, Lansdale, Lansdowne, Latrobe, Laurel Mountain Park, Laureldale, Leechburg, Leesport, Leetsdale, Lenhartsville, Lewisberry, Liberty, Ligonier, Lincoln, Lititz, Littlestown, Loganville, Long Branch, Lower Burrell, Lower Makefield, Lower Merion, Lyons, Macungie, Madison, Malvern, Manchester, Manheim, Manor, Manorville, Marcus Hook, Marianna, Marianna, Marietta, Marion Center, Mars, Maugansville, Mcdonald, Mckees Rocks, Mckeesport, Mcsherrystown, Media, Midway, Millbourne, Millersville, Millersville, Millvale, Modena, Mohnton, Monessen, Monongahela, Monroeville, Monroeville, Morrisville, Morton, Mount Joy, Mount Oliver, Mount Penn, Mount Pleasant, Mount Wolf, Mountville, Mt. Lebanon, Munhall, Murrysville, Narberth, Nazareth, New Alexandria, New Bedford, New Bethlehem, New Britain, New Eagle, New Florence, New Freedom, New Holland, New Hope, New Kensington, New Market, New Morgan, New Oxford, New Salem, New Stanton, Newtown, Norristown, North Apollo, North Braddock, North Catasauqua, North Charleroi, North Irwin, North Wales, North York, Northampton, Norwood, Oakdale, Oakmont, Oklahoma, Osborne, Oxford, Parker, Parkesburg, Parkside, Pen Argyl, Penn, Penn Hills, Penndel, Pennsburg, Pennsbury Village, Perkasie, Petrolia, Phoenixville, Pitcairn, Pittsburgh, Pleasant Hills, Plum, Plumville, Plymouth Meeting, Port Vue, Portersville, Portland, Pottstown, Prospect, Prospect Park, Punxsutawney, Quakertown, Quarryville, Radnor, Railroad, Rankin, Reading, Red Hill, Red Lion, Renfrew, Reynoldsville, Richlandtown, Ridley Park, Riegelsville, Rimersburg, Robesonia, Rockledge, Roscoe, Rose Valley, Roseto, Rosslyn Farms, Royersford, Rural Valley, Rutledge, Sabillasville, Saint Lawrence, Saint Petersburg, Saltsburg, Saxonburg, Scenery Hill, Schwenksville, Scottdale, Sellersville, Seven Fields, Seven Valleys, Seward, Sewickley, Sewickley Heights, Sewickley Hills, Sharon Hill, Sharpsburg, Sharpsburg, Shelocta, Shillington, Shippenville, Shoemakersville, Shrewsbury, Silver Spring, Silverdale, Sinking Spring, Slatington, Sligo, Slippery Rock, Smicksburg, Smithton, Souderton, South Bethlehem, South Coatesville, South Greensburg, Southampton, Speers, Spring City, Spring Grove, Springdale, Stewartstown, Stockdale, Stockertown, Strasburg, Strattanville, Strausstown, Summerville, Sutersville, Swarthmore, Swissvale, Sykesville, Tarentum, Tatamy, Telford, Temple, Terre Hill, Thornburg, Timblin, Topton, Trafford, Trainer, Trappe, Tredyffrin, Trumbauersville, Tullytown, Turtle Creek, Twilight, Unionville, Upland, Upper Dublin, Upper St. Clair, Valencia, Valencia, Vandergrift, Vernon, Verona, Versailles, Villanova, Walkersville, Wall, Walnutport, Wampum, Washington, Wellsville, Wernersville, West Alexander, West Brownsville, West Chester, West Conshohocken, West Easton, West Elizabeth, West Grove, West Homestead, West Kittanning, West Leechburg, West Liberty, West Middletown, West Mifflin, West Newton, West Reading, West Sunbury, West View, West York, Whitaker, White Oak, Whitehall, Whitehall, Whitehall, Wilkinsburg, Willow Street, Wilmerding, Wilson, Wind Gap, Windsor, Winterstown, Womelsdorf, Worthington, Worthville, Wrightsville, Wyomissing, Yardley, Yeadon, Yoe, York, York Haven, York Springs, Yorkana, Youngstown, Youngwood, Zelienople

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