House SparrowsPicture of the Week: Newborn House Sparrows

Picture of the Week: Newborn House Sparrows

Newborn House Sparrows
Photo by Bet Zimmerman Smith


Recently hatched House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) from a bluebird nestbox. Notice size variation – the one in the center versus the one in the upper left. This can be a result of asynchronous hatching.

House Sparrow (HOSP) eggs hatch 11 days after the last egg was laid, over about a 1 to 3 day period. HOSP hatchlings are red, fading to pink or light gray after 6 – 10 hours. The mouth is red, and the rictal flange is yellow. At 6 days, feather sheaths on ventral and dorsal tracts and wing coverts split. Feathers begin to fan at 7–8 days. The female primarily broods nestlings, with time decreasing as they grow older. Both parents feed (15-19 visits/hour) young by regurgitation; males feed about 40% of the time.

These nestlings may look “cute,” but they are non-native, and will mature into adults that will kill the eggs, nestlings and adults of native birds. I do not allow any House Sparrows to fledge from my bluebird trail. See more information on passive and active methods of controlling House Sparrow populations.

References and More Information:

Previous Pictures of the Week: © Original photographs are copyrighted, and may not be used without the permission of the photographer. Please honor their copyright protection. If you would like to use a photo for educational purposes, you can contact me.

You cannot begin to preserve any species of animal unless you preserve the habitat in which it dwells. Disturb or destroy that habitat and you will exterminate the species as surely as if you had shot it. So conservation means that you have to preserve forest and grassland, river and lake, even the sea itself. This is vital not only for the preservation of animal life generally, but for the future existence of man himself—a point that seems to escape many people.
-Gerald Durrell, The Nature Conservancy


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