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BTO Blueline
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BTO Blueline
HOUSE SPARROW
Passer domesticus
 
Conservation listings
Europe: SPEC category 3 (declining)
UK: red (>50% population decline)
Long-term trend
England: rapid decline
Distribution maps
Maps and statistics from British and Irish
atlases can be viewed here.
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 over a shorter period (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 have shown increases recently in Scotland and Wales. Following widespread declines across Europe during the 1990s, the European status of this species is no longer considered 'secure'.
 
CBC/BBS UK graph
 
Table of population changes for House Sparrow
Source Period
(yrs)
Years Plots
(n)
Change
(%)
Lower
limit
Upper
limit
Alert Comment
CBC/BBS England 25 1977-2002 377 -69 -77 -58 >50  
  10 1992-2002 878 -21 -33 -11    
  5 1997-2002 1162 -8 -13 -3    
BBS UK 9 1994-2003 1239 -2 -6 2    
BBS England 9 1994-2003 1032 -11 -15 -7    
BBS Scotland 9 1994-2003 72 65 33 105    
BBS Wales 9 1994-2003 94 85 53 125    
BBS N.Ireland 9 1994-2003 34 -31 -54 4    
BBS acknowledgement
 
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
(yrs)
Years Mean
annual
sample
Trend Predicted
in first year
Predicted
in last year
Change Comment
Clutch size 34 1968-2002 57 None        
Brood size 34 1968-2002 95 Curvilinear 3.33 chicks 2.84 chicks -0.49 chicks  
Daily failure rate (eggs) 34 1968-2002 76 Curvilinear 0.0108 nests/day 0.0026 nests/day -0.0082 nests/day  
Daily failure rate (chicks) 34 1968-2002 75 Linear decline 0.0141 nests/day 0.003 nests/day -0.0111 nests/day  
Laying date 34 1968-2002 45 Linear decline day 146 day 137 -9 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:
Baillie, S.R., Marchant, J.H., Crick, H.Q.P., Noble, D.G., 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. (2005)
Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside: their conservation status 2004.
BTO Research Report No. 385. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends)

Pages maintained by Susan Waghorn and Iain Downie: Last updated 18 January, 2006