House and field: two species of sparrows inhabit the natural territories of the capital

Sparrows are one of the bird species most adapted to living next to humans. Two types of sparrows nest in Moscow: house sparrows and field sparrows.

House sparrows try to stay closer to people, including in the city, while field sparrows prefer to settle in parks and natural areas. In the capital’s natural territories subordinated to Mosprirode, mainly field sparrows live.

According to the Eurasian Bird Registration held in Moscow in October, field sparrows are among the four most numerous species — the participants of the action counted 329 field sparrows, almost as many as blackbirds (376).

Birds prefer to nest in tree hollows, but often occupy artificial nesting sites, including birdhouses and bluebirds. Interestingly, sparrows are quite prolific: under good conditions, a couple can hatch chicks three times in a season. In family terms, they are monogamous — two birds converge for at least a few years, and sometimes for life.

“The number of field sparrows in the natural territories of Moscow is stable today. The regime of specially protected natural areas allows birds to safely hatch chicks. For the winter, sparrows gather in flocks and settle in special wintering bushes, where several dozen sparrows can sit,” said Vera Strukova, deputy head of Mospriroda.

Field sparrows are slightly smaller and somewhat slim compared to brownies, they have well-marked black “earrings” on white cheeks and a brown “cap” on their head. Males and females look the same.

The house sparrow has a pronounced sexual dimorphism: males and females have very different coloration. Males have brighter plumage, there is a gray “cap”, females are brownish from below, grayish—brown from above, almost all wing feathers have red edges.

Sparrows are collective birds and prefer to do everything in groups: nest, feed, even swim. This provides many advantages — for example, protection from predators. The tiny bird has many enemies, so the more vigilant eyes, the better. Group behavior also helps when food is detected: when one of the birds returns to the flock full, it shows its relatives the way to the source of food.

Almost every sparrow is characterized by curiosity, inventive spirit, courage and a penchant for “teamwork”. The diet of these birds is unusually wide: they eat both plant food (mainly seeds, but also flowers, buds and leaves) and animal food (insects, spiders).