Tree Sparrow

Passer montanus



The Tree Sparrow resembles the House Sparrow, but there are some subtle differences; the Tree Sparrow is more streamlined in its shape, and the plumage slightly more glossy. There’s a dark brown cap, a buffish collar at the back of the neck, blackened patches on the white cheeks, and a black section just below the chin. Has white wing bars, greyish underparts, and brown streaks on the back and wings. Sexes are similar. Juvenile resembles adult, but the markings on the face are less obvious and the plumage is less vivid overall.


Requires habitat with suitable holes for nesting such as woods, farms, parks and orchards. Winter time brings the Tree Sparrow to unploughed arable land with short grass.


Of a timid nature when in the region, though is more common and tolerable of humans in parts of Asia. The Tree Sparrow is social, nesting in colonies and moving in flocks of House Sparrows and other species during winter.


Feeds mostly on grass seeds from wheat and barley, and also eats aphids, caterpillars, weevils and beetles.


The Tree Sparrow is known to invade and take over a nest in a hole already engaged by another bird. Male and female share incubation of 5 or 6 eggs for 11-14 days, and they both feed the hatchlings, which fledge at 15-18 days old. May raise two or three broods in a season.


The Tree Sparrow doesn’t roam far, particularly when in the region, though some European and Russian populations embark on short migrations. More than 200 000 pairs breed in the UK each year, and 1000-2500 in Ireland.

Observation Tips

The Tree Sparrow is particularly scarce in Wales and in the west of England, while the East Midlands and areas of East Anglia play host to greater numbers. Nest boxes placed in proximity may encourage this social species to breed in gardens or other suitable habitat.


Utters a ‘chip’ call, and a series of ‘chip’ sounds in song.
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