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BTO Blueline
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BTO Blueline
Passer domesticus
Conservation listings

Europe: no SPEC category, secure
UK: Red (>50% population decline)

Long-term trend
UK, England: rapid decline
Status summary

The UK House Sparrow population was not monitored adequately by the CBC until 1976, partly because that scheme did not target urban areas and gardens. Data collected by CBC/BBS indicate a rapid decline in abundance over the last 25 years, as does the BTO's Garden Bird Feeding Survey though this commenced later (Siriwardena et al. 2002). These results are supported by many other data and anecdotal reports that have generated great conservation concern (see Summers-Smith 2003). A change in the listing criteria has resulted in the admission of the species, previously Green-listed, to the Red list. The decline is likely to have been driven by reductions in overwinter survival (Siriwardena et al. 1999) and has been linked to a range of changes in rural and urban habitats; the causes are likely to be different in the two areas. Possible explanations for the decrease in House Sparrow abundance include general reductions in food supply, reductions in the amount of grain spilt during agricultural operations, tighter hygiene regulations, increases in predation, and the use of toxic additives in unleaded petrol (Crick et al. 2002). BBS data suggest that the species has shown increases recently in Scotland and Wales.

CBC/BBS UK graph
Table of population changes for House Sparrow
Source Period
Years Plots
Alert Comment
23 1977-2000 413 -65 -76 -55 >50  
10 1990-2000 845 -25 -37 -8 >25  
  5 1995-2000 1341 -8 -12 -3    
23 1977-2000 349 -69 -78 -60 >50  
10 1990-2000 714 -31 -47 -18 >25  
  5 1995-2000 1128 -12 -18 -6    
BBS UK 8 1994-2002 1227 -7 -11 -3    
BBS England 8 1994-2002 1028 -13 -17 -9    
BBS Scotland 8 1994-2002 72 29 4 59    
BBS Wales 8 1994-2002 90 63 35 98    
BBS N.Ireland 8 1994-2002 32 -34 -58 3    
BBS acknowledgement
CBC/BBS England graph
BBS UK graph
BBS England graph
BBS Scotland graph
BBS Wales graph
BBS N Ireland graph
Table of productivity changes for House Sparrow
Variable Period
Years Mean
Trend Predicted
in first year
in last year
Change Comment
Clutch size 33 1968-2001 57 None        
Brood size 33 1968-2001 95 Curvilinear 3.36 chicks 3.02 chicks -0.34 chicks  
Daily failure rate (eggs) 33 1968-2001 76 Curvilinear 0.0107 nests/day 0.0021 nests/day -0.0086 nests/day  
Daily failure rate (chicks) 33 1968-2001 75 Linear decline 0.014 nests/day 0.0032 nests/day -0.0108 nests/day  
Laying date 33 1968-2001 45 Linear decline day 145 day 137 -8 days  
Clutch size graph
Brood size graph
Egg nest failure graph
Chick nest failure graph
Laying date graph
Insufficient data for CES
available for this species
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This report should be cited as:
Crick, H.Q.P., Marchant, J.H., Noble, D.G., Baillie, S.R., Balmer, D.E., Beaven, L.P., Coombes, R.H.,
Downie, I.S., Freeman, S.N., Joys, A.C., Leech, D.I., Raven, M.J., Robinson, R.A. and Thewlis, R.M. (2004)
Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside: their conservation status 2003.
BTO Research Report No. 353. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends2003)

Pages maintained by Susan Waghorn and Iain Downie: Last updated 16 February, 2009