1096. Passer domesticus indicus

(1096) Passer domesticus indicus Jard. & Selby.
Passer domesticus indicus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 170.
In the ‘Fauna’ I gave the distribution of this Sparrow at length as follows :—“Kathiawar, Sind, Baluchistan, Punjab and North¬-West Frontier Province to Gilgit ; Rajputana, the United Provinces, Northern Central India into Bihar and Chota Nagpur.” This Sparrow ascends the Himalayas to a considerable elevation and is common in many hill-stations to which it has followed mankind.
The nesting habits of all the House-Sparrows are very similar and a description of these of one suffices for all. In Hume’s ‘Nests and Eggs’ no differentiation of races is made, and one would like to quote in extenso Hume’s and Aitken’s remarks, but space forbids.
Normally all House-Sparrows build in holes, crevices and crannies, but it is a matter of indifference where the hole is, though if another bird wants it this adds to their own desire for it, and they like nothing better than to drive their weaker brethren out of their homes. In India, as in Europe, they often turn various Swallows. out of their nests, and I have seen them turn Swifts out of theirs. Where they meet the Tree-Sparrow or the Cinnamon Sparrows, these invariably have to give up their homes although there may be similar empty holes just alongside. So also if the site selected for their nest is some place where they are a horrible nuisance a great joy is added to their domestic work. They seem always to prefer an uncomfortable site in a verandah, which they can render uninhabitable for humans by their litter, to a comfortable site outside, while an almost impossible site in drawing-room or dining-room is only given up after a fight carried on with a perseverance worthy of something better.
The nest is composed of rubbish of all kinds, leaves, grass, roots etc., lined thickly with feathers, sometimes soft but frequently mixed with the stiff quill-feathers of fowls, which certainly do not give one the impression of comfort. The nests may be placed in holes in trees, walls, thatch, wells or other places, but often very curious sites are selected. Aitken records a nest built between a pair of deer’s antlers in a drawing-room, and until it was completed Aitken remarks that the room was perpetually like a stable. How the Sparrows must have enjoyed this ! Nests have been found in empty water-jars, on verandah posts, on the joists of beams and laths under the roofs of houses etc., while Aitken adds street- lamps in Bombay as another favourite resort. He says :—‘‘The hollow is commodious enough, and the neck or mouth is narrow, so the place is admirably adapted for the Sparrow’s purpose, hut must be like a furnace during the heat of the day. Besides, a man goes up twice every day to clean and attend to the lamp, and remains for a minute or two bustling and fumbling about within 4 inches of the nest. Then again the gas is blazing all night with a glare that would astonish any bird more susceptible than Passer domesticus.”
Occasionally the House-Sparrow makes a large ball-shaped nest which he places in the dense foliage of a tree or bush. In these rare instances the same materials are used as for the ordinary nests, but in much greater quantity.
The breeding season in the hills coincides with that of most birds, i.e., April, May and June, but elsewhere, though March and April are the principal breeding months in most places, nests with fresh or hard-set eggs or young may be found in almost every month of the year.
The clutch varies in Sind from three to four and elsewhere from four to six, though Dodsworth once took eight eggs in a nest in. Simla.
The eggs are like all other House-Sparrows’ eggs. The ground varies from pare white, which is most usual, to a pale grey or grey brown, or still more rarely grey-green. The markings consist of mottlings, blotches or freckles of blackish, with secondary similar marks of neutral tint and grey, seldom at all conspicuous. In most eggs the markings are numerous everywhere, while in a few they are definitely more dense at the larger end. Occasionally the blotches are less numerous and bolder, standing out well against the ground. In most clutches one egg is conspicuously more boldly and scantily marked than the others. In this particular race grey-brown or grey-green specimens appear to be quite exceptional.
One hundred and twenty eggs average 20.6 x 14.9 mm. : maxima 22.4 x 14.3 and 19.5 x 16.4 mm. ; minima 16.6 x 14.4 and 18.5 x 13.9 mm.

The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 3. 1934.
Title in Book: 
1096. Passer domesticus indicus
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Indian House Sparrow
Passer domesticus indicus
Vol. 3
Term name: 

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