THE HOUSE SPARROW.
Passer domesticus, Ray, Syn. Meth. Avium, p. 86 (1713).
Passera domestica, Zinan. Uova, Nidi Uccelli, t. 11. f. 70 (1737).
House Sparrow, Albin, Birds, i. p. 59. pl. 62 (1738).
Fringilla domestica, Linn. Faun. Suec. p. 242 (1746).
Passer domesticus, Linn. Syst. Nat. p. 30 (1748).
Passer domesticus, Klein, Stem. Avium, p. 17. t. 18. f. 1. a, b (1759).
Passer domesticus, Briss. Ornith, iii. p. 72 (1760).
Passer flavus, Briss. Ornith, iii. p. 78 (1760).
Fringilla domestica, Linn. Faun. Suec. 1. n. 212 (1761).
Passer domesticus, Briss. Orn. Meth. i. p. 327 (1763).
Fringilla domestica, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 323 (1766).
Passer domesticus, Klein, Ova Avium, p. 29. t. 9. f. 7 (1766).
House Sparrow, Penn. Brit. Zool. fol. 107 (1766).
Sparrow, Penn. Brit. Zool. i. t. 51 (1768).
Fringilla domestica, Scop. Ann. i. p. 220 (1769).
Passer domesticus, Gerini, Stor. Nat. Ucc. iii. p. 340 (1771).
Rauch-sperling, Gunth. Nest, und Eyern, t. 57 (1772-77).
Fringilla domestica, Mull. Vollstand. Natursystem, iii. p. 592 (1773).
Passera domestica, Cett. Ucc. Sard. p. 204 (1774-77).
Le Moineau, Buff. Hist. Nat. iii. p. 474. t. 29. f. 1 (1775).
Sparrow, Penn. Brit. Zool. i. p. 338 (1776).
Moineau franc de France, Buff. Pl. Enl. 6. 1. et 55. 1 (1777).
Moineau, Bodd. Tab. des Pl. Enl. 6. 1. 55. 1 (1783).
House Sparrow, Lath. Gen. Syn. iii. p. 248 (1783).
Sparrow, Penn. Arct. Zool. ii. p. 383 (1785).
Passer candidus, Sparrm. Mus. Carls, i. pl. 20 (1786).
House Sparrow, Lath. Gen. Syn. Suppl, i. p. 163 (1787).
Fringilla domestica, Gmel. Syst. Nat. i. p. 925 (1788).
House Sparrow, White, Nat. Hist. Selb. (1789).
House Sparrow, Walcot, Syn. Brit. B. ii. pl. 215 (1789).
Haus-sperling, Bechst. Naturg. Dent. iii. p. 107 (1789-95).
Fringilla domestica, Lath. Ind. Orn. i. p, 432 (1790).
Fringilla inda, et domestica, Licht. Cat. Rer. Nat. Rar. pp. 46, 47 (1793).
House Sparrow, Russell, Nat. Hist. Alep. p. 70 (1794).
House Sparrow, Lewin, Brit. B. ii. t. 77, et Br. B. Eggs, i. pl. 12. f. 1 (1795).
House Sparrow, Bew. Brit. Birds, i. p, 154, fig (1797).
Le Moineau, Daud. Trait. d’Orn, i. p. 91. pl. 3 (1800).
Le Moineau, Buff, par Sonn. Hist. Nat. xlvii. p. 115. pl. 104. f. 1 (1801).
Passer domesticus, Pall. Zoogr. Rosso-Asiat. ii. p. 29 (1811); Koch, Baier. Zool. i. p. 219 (1816) ; Leach, Cat. Mamm. et Birds in B. M. p. 13 (1816); Shaw, Gen. Zool. xiv. p. 40 (1824) ; Hewit. B. Ool. pl. 41. f. 1. 2 (1831-41) ; Sykes, P. Z. S. 1832, p. 95 ; Selby, Brit. Ornith. i. p. 298. pl. 54. fig. 4. 5 (1833) ; Cox, P. Z. S. 1835, p. 106 ; Macgill. H. B. Birds, i. p. 340 (1837) ; Dunn, Ornith. Isl. Ork. p. 80 (1837) ; Keys and Bl. Wirbelth. Eur. p. xl (1840) ; Blyth, J. A. S. Beng. xiii. 1844, p. 946 ; Schl. Rev. Crit. Ois d’Eur. p. lxiv (1844) ; Muhle, Beitr. Orn. Griech. p. 44 (1844) ; Rupp, Syst. Ueb. p. 78 (1845) ; Yarr. Brit. B. p. 521. 2nd ed. (1845) ; Tick. J. A. S. B. xvii. 1848, p. 303 ; Thomps. B. Irel. i. p. 251 (1849) ; Gray et Mitch. Gen. B. ii. p. 372 (1849) ; Blyth, Cat. B. A. S. B. p. 119 (1849) ; Cab. Mus. Hein. i. p. 155 (1850-51) ; Robert, Voy. Isl. et Groenl. pl. 3 (1851) ; Midd. Reis. Sibir. Zool. p. 149 (1851) ; Gray, Cat. Eggs B. Birds, p. 62 (1852) ; Schl. Yog. Nederl. pl. 161 (1854) ; Hewits. Eggs B. B. i. p. 155. pl. 42. fig. 3. 4 (1856) ; Yarr. Brit. B. p. 546. 3rd ed. (1856) ; Eyton, Cat. B. p. 259 (1856) ; Adams, P. Z. S. 1859, p. 177 ; Jaub. et Barth. Lapomm. Rich. Orn. p. 127 (1859) ; Powys, Ibis, 1860, p. 137 ; Lind. Vog. Griech. p. 57 (1860) ; M.-Tand. Ibis, 1860, p. 188 ; Marc. S. Emul. Abbev. 1861, p. 271 ; Gould, B. G. Brit. iii. pl. xxxii. (1862) ; Maill. Not. l’ile de Reun. i. p. 174 (1863) ; Gray, Cat. B. B. p. 100 (1863) ; Lowne, N. H. Gt. Yarm. p. 57 (1863) ; Rad. Reis. Sib. Yog. p. 179 (1863) ; Bartlett, P. Z. S. 1863, p. 160 ; Trist. P. Z. S. 1864, p. 446 ; More, Ibis, 1865, p. 127 ; Schl. P. Z. S. 1866, p. 424 ; Degl. et Gerbe, Ornith. Eur. i. p. 241 (1867) ; Trist. Ibis, 1867, p. 369 ; Pollen et Schl. Madag. p. 154(1868) ; Pollen, Relat. de Vog. i. p. 68 (1868-77) ; Wright, Ibis, 1869, p. 250 ; Fritsch, Vog. Eur. tab. 20 fig. 16 (1870) ; Gray, Hand-List B. ii. p. 85 (1870) ; Swinh. P. Z. S. 1870, p. 438 ; Heugl. Orn. N.-O.-Afr. i. p. 628 et Append, p. cxl. (1871) ; Elwes et Buckl. Ibis, 1870, p. 192 ; Gray, B. W. Scotl. p. 141 (1871) ; Shelley, Ibis, 1871, p. 141 ; Gurn. Ibis, 1871, p. 293 ; Tacz. Zoologist, 1871, p. 2589 ; Shelley, Birds Egypt, p. 148 (1872) ; Harting, B. Birds, p. 28 (1872) ; Sundev. Av. Disp. Tentam. p. 32 (1872) ; Cord. B. Humb. p. 52 (1872) ; Irby, Birds Gibr. p. 119 (1875) ; Seeb. Ibis, 1876, p. 114 ; Sharpe et Dress. B. Eur. iii. p. 587. pl. 176. fig. 1 (1876) ; Newt. Yarr. B. B. ii. p. 89 (1876) ; Hartl. Vog. Madag. pp. 399, 401 (1877) ; Hume, Stray Feath. 1878, ii. p. 64 ; Boucard, P. Z. S. 1878, p. 57 ; Legge, H. B. Ceyl. pp. 600-4 (1878-80) ; Shelley, P. Z. S. 1879, p. 678 ; Brehm, Thierl. ii. p. 314 (1879) ; Salv. Cat. Strickl. Coll. p. 209 (1882) ; Hart. Sketch. B. Life, p. 165 (1883) ; B. O. U. List B. Birds, p. 51 (1883) ; Seeb. Brit. B. Eggs, ii. p. 83 (1884) ; Tristram, Faun. Palest, p. 67 (1884) ; Fergus, Zeitsch. Gesam. Orn. 1884, p. 48 ; Radde, J. f. O. 1885, p. 80 ; Leverk. J. f. O. 1887, p. 83.
Passer domestica, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av. p. 509 (1850) ; Schiff, J. f. O. 1854, p. 266 ; Gray ; Gen. et Subgen. Birds, p. 78 (1855) ; Rodd, Zoologist, 1870, p. 2234.
Passer indicus, Jard, et Selb. Illustr. Orn. t. 118 (184-?) ; Blyth, J. A. S. B. xi. 1842, p. 108 ; J. A. S. B. xv. 1846, p. 37 ; xvi. p. 470 ; Cat. B. A. S. Beng. p. 119 (1849) ; Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av. p. 509 (1850) ; Kelaart, B. Ceylon, p. 126 (1852) ; Kel. et Lay. Cat. B. Ceyl. p. 59 (1853) ; Layard, Ann. Nat. xiii. 1854, p. 258 : Hors, et Moore, Cat. B. M. E.-I.-Comp. ii. p. 499 (1856-8) ; Adams, P. Z. S. 1858, p. 481 ; Irby, Ibis, 1861, p. 231 ; Jerdon, B. Ind. ii. p. 362 (1860) ; Gray, Hodgs. Cat. B. Nep. p. 57. (1863) ; Beavan, P. Z. S. 1864, p. 376 ; P. Z. S. 1865, p. 693 ; Bulger, P. Z. S. 1866, p. 571 ; Gray, Hand-List B. ii. p. 86 (1870) ; Holds. P. Z. S. 1872, p. 464 ; Hume, Stray Feath. 1873, p. 209 ; Lloyd, Ibis, 1873, p. 413 ; Hume, Nest and Eggs, ii. p. 457 (1874) ; Oates, Stray Feath. 1875, p. 156 ; Butl. et Hume, Stray Feath. 1875, p. 499 ; Tweedd. et Blyth, Birds Burm. p. 93 (1875) ; Hume et Davis, Stray Feath. 1878, p. 406 ; Salv. Cat. Strickl. Coll. p. 209 (1882) ; Oates, B. Brit. Burm. i. p. 346 (1882) ; Murr. Faun. Sind. p. 183 (1884).
Passer arboreus, Licht. Mus. Berol. ; Bonap. Consp. Gen. A. p. 510 (1850) ; Heugl. Syst. Ubers. Vog. N.-O.-Afr. p. 42 (1856) ; Antin. Cat. Uccell. p. 74 (1864) ; Gray, Hand-List B. ii. p. 86 (1870).
Passer domesticus, var. indicus, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiv. 1845, p. 553.
Passer indica, Moore, P. Z. S. 1857, p. 96.
Passer pyrrhopterus, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xiii. 1844, p. 947 ; Gray, Gen. B. ii. p. 373 (1849) ; Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av. p. 508 (1850) ; Gray, Hand-List B. ii. p. 86 (1870).
Passer rufidorsalis, Brehm, Naum. 1856, p. 376.
Passer rufidorsalis mcgarhynchus, Brehm, Naum. 1856, p. 376.
Passer rufidorsalis microrhynchus, Brehm, Naum. 1856, p. 376.
Passer tingitanus, Bonap. Cat. Parzud. p. 18 (1856).
Fringilla domestica, Retz. Linn. Faun. Seuc. p. 249. (1800) ; Gerard. Tab. elem. i. p. 171 (1806) ; Ill. Prodr. Syst. Mam. et Av. p. 222 (1811) ; Shaw, Gen. Zool. Ix. p. 429. pl. 64. f. 1 (1815) ; Tem. Man. d’Orn, p. 218 (1815) ; Meisn. und Schinz, Vog. der Schweiz, p. 74 (1815) ; Meyer, Vog. Liv. und Esthl. p. 84 (1815) ; Forst. Cat. B. Birds, p. ii. (1817) ; Nilss. Orn. Suec. i. p. 140 (1817) ; Temm. Man. d’Orn, i. p. 350 (1820) ; ? Licht. Doubl. Mus. Berl. p. 89 (1823) ; Naum Vog. Deutsch. iv. p. 453. taf. 115. fig. 1. 2 (1824) ; Werner, Atlas, Gran. pl. 39 (1827) ; Stark, Nat. Hist. Vert. i. p. 244 (1828) ; Griff. Cuv., Aves, ii. pp. 135, 234 (1829) ; Stanl. Mag. Nat. Hist. iii. 1830, p. 172 ; Schinz, Nest, und Eicr der Vog. t. 36. fig. 1 (1830) ; Cook, P. Z. S. 1831, p. 96 ; Jenyns, Man. Brit. Vert. Anim. p. 134 (1835) ; Nordm. Voy. Russ. Merid. iii. p. 180 (1840) ; Gull. P. Z. S. 1842, pp. 71, 98, 99 ; Yarr. Brit. B. i. p. 474 fig. (1843) ; Thien. Fortpfl. Vog. Eur. t. 10. f. 4 (1845-56) ; Hare. P. Z. S. 1851, p. 145 ; Kjaerb. Ornith. Dan. pl. xxvi. fig. 4 (1852) ; Radde, J. f. O. 1854, p. 61 ; Brehm, J. f. O. 1854, pp. xxxviii, xlvi ; Sundev. Svensk. Fogl. pl. 6. fig. 1, 2 (1856) ; Schl. Nederl. Vogels. pl. 16. fig. 11. 12 (1861) ; Hintz, J. f. O. 1867, p. 165.
Fringilla pyrrhoptera, Less, in Belang. Voy. Ind. p. 274 (1834).
Fringilla passer, Crisp, P. Z. S. 1860, p. 179.
Pyrgita domestiea, Cuv. Reg. Anim. i. p. 385 (1817) ; Boie, Isis, 1822, p. 554 ; Flem. B. Anim. p. 83 (1828) ; Latr. Cuv., Reg. Anim. i. p. 439 2nd ed. (1829) ; Brehm, Vog. Deutschl. p. 264 (1831) ; Gould, B. Eur. pl. 184. fig. 1 (1832-37) ; Gould, P. Z. S. 1834, p. 51 ; Rupp. Neue Wirbelth. p. 100 (1835-40) ; Eyton, Cat. B. B. p. 19 (1836) ; Strichl. P. Z. S. 1836, p. 99 ; Bonap. Comp. List Birds, p. 31 (1838) ; Fraser, P. Z. S. 1839, p. 121 ; Jerd. B. Penins. Ind. M. J. xi. 1840, p. 28 ; Ewer, P. Z. S. 1842, p. 92 ; Blyth, P. Z. S. 1842, p. 93 ; Fraser, P. Z. S. 1843, p. 52 ; Hodgs. Gray’s Z. Misc. 1844, p. 84 ; Gray, Hodgs. Cat. B. Nep. p. 107 (1846) ; Maund. Treas. Nat. Hist. p. 629 (1849) ; Reichb. Avium Syst. Nat. pl. LXXV (1850) ; Licht. Nomencl. Av. Mus. Berol, p. 47 (1854) ; Sch. J. f. O. 1854, p. 246 ; Gull. P. Z. S. 1875. p. 490.
Pyrgita pagorum, Brehm, Vog. Deutsch. p. 265 (1831).
Pyrgita rustica, Brehm, Vog. Deutsch. p. 266. t. 17. f. 2 (1831).
Pyrgita indica, Hutton, J. A. S. Beng. xvii. 1848, p. 693.
Pyrgita valida, Brehm, Vogelfang, p. 98 (1855).
Pyrgita minor, Brehm, Vogelfang, p. 98 (1855).
Pyrgita intercedens, Brehm, Vogelfang, p. 98 (1855).
Pyrgita brachyrhynchos, Brehm, Vogelfang, p. 98 (1855).
Pyrgita pectoralis, Heugl. J. f. O. 1867, p. 299.
Pyrgita cahirina, Heugl. J. f. O. 1867, p. 299.
Pyrgita castaneus, Heugl. Orn. N.-O.-Afr. i. p. 628 (1871).
Pyrgita castanotus, Heugl. Orn. N.-O.-Afr. i. p. 628 (1871).
Pyrgita melanorhynchus, Heugl. Orn. N.-O.-Afr. i. p. 628 (1871).
Domestic, or House Sparrow, Gmel. Syst. Nat. Hist. vii. p. 207. Eng. Ed. (1801).
Sparrow Finch, Penn. Brit. Zool. i. p. 456, pl. 58 (1812).
Black-brcasted Finch, Lath. Gen. Hist. B. vi. p. 50 (1823).
House Sparrow, Mont. Ornith. Dict. ii. (1802) ; Buff. N. H. B. iv. p. 27. pl. 85. fig. 1. Eng. Ed. (1812) ; Pult. Cat. B. Dorset, p. 12 (1813) ; Low’s, Faun. Oread, p. 59 (1813) ; Bew. Brit. B.i.p. 174 (1816) ; Bew. Brit. B. i. p. 158 (1821) ; Hunt, Brit. B. iii. (1822) ; Lath. Gen. Hist. Birds, vi. p. 46 (1823) ; White’s, Nat. Hist. Selb. p. 100. Ed. (1832) ; Gurney, Russell et Coues, The House Sparrow, 1885.
The Sparrow, Hone’s, Every-Day Book, i. p. 495 (1826) ; id. i. p. 364 (1838) ; Wood, N. H. Birds, p. 475 (1869) ; Tristram, Nat. H. Bible, p. 201. 7th ed. (1883).
Figures. Albin, Birds, i. pl. 62. Pl. Enl. 6. 1, et 55. 1. Gould, B. Eur. pl. 184. fig. 1 ; et Birds Great Brit. iii. pl. 32. Sharpe et Dresser. Birds Eur. iii. pl. 176. fig. 1.
Jard, et Selby, Ill. Orn. pl. 118.
Danish Grasspurv. Dutch, De Haismusch, De Musch. English Sparrow, Philip Sparrow, House Sparrow, Sparrow Finch, Domestic Sparrow, Indian Sparrow, Indian House Sparrow, Common Sparrow. French, Le Moineau, Moineau domestique, Le Moineau franc, Grosbec Moineau. Finnish, Kolivarpunen. Gaelic, Gealbhan, Gealbhag. Ger¬man, Der Sperling, Der Haus-sperling, Der Rauch-sperling. Italian, Passera. Norwegian, Grasspurv. Portuguese, Pardal. Russian, Vorobey. Spanish, Gorrion. Swedish, Hussparf. Swiss, Tatting, Sparf.
Bengalese, Charia or Chata (Jerdon and Blyth). Hindoo, Churi and Khas Churii (Jerdon). Gowrya (Blyth). Tamils in Ceylon, Gewal-Kurulla (Legge). Tam. Adiki lam Kuravi (Jerdon). Sinhalese, Geh Kurulla (Layard). Teluga, Uri-pickike (Jerdon).
Habitat. Europe, from Siberia in the North to Egypt and Nubia in the South, and from England in the West to Ceylon, the East Indies, and Siam, in the East.
Introduced into Australia, New Zealand, Mauritius, Reunion, Mada¬gascar, Comoro Islands, United States of America, Canada, and many other places.
Mule Adult Summer, India. Crown and nape pale grey ; a chestnut band behind the eye widening and uniting on the hind neck ; a small white spot above hind corner of eye ; mantle, scapulars, greater and lesser wing-coverts chestnut-brown, the inner half of each feather nearly black, excepting the latter ; primaries, secondaries and tail dull brown, edged with brownish-buff, broader ou the secondaries, quills blackish ; median coverts tipped with white, black at the base ; rump, upper tail-coverts, sides of chest, sides and flanks dirty ashy grey ; bastard-wing and primary-coverts blackish, edged with pale brown ; cheeks and sides of neck white ; a narrow frontal band, lores, chin and throat black) breast, underparts, undersides of wing-and coverts, and under tail-coverts dirty creamy white, paling towards the abdomen : iris hazel brown ; bill black, legs light brown : length 5.3, wing 2.9, tail 2.3, tars. 0.65, culm. 0.4.
Female Adult Summer, Kingsbury. Above nearly uniform dirty brown ; inner half of feathers of mantle, scapulars and wing-coverts blackish brown ; margins of same tinged with rufous ; primaries, secondaries and tail dark brown, more or less edged with rufous and buffish white, quills shining dark brown ; median coverts creamy white, brown at base ; band behind eye reaching to nape, and sides of lower neck, fawn-colour : bastard- wing and primary-coverts dark brown, faintly edged with buff ; cheeks, breast, sides and flanks pale earthy brown, paling towards chin and abdomen ; a slight indication of black on centre of throat, and faint centres to feathers of breast ; underside of wing- and coverts dull white ; under-tail coverts dirty white, darker in the centre, with brown shaft stripe : iris light hazel ; bill brown, yellowish at base : length 6.0, wing 2.8, tail 2.2, tars. 0.7, culm. 0.45.
Young of first year. Similar to female but paler, especially the margins to the feathers ; the young males assuming the breeding dress by the following spring.
Observations. The fully adult males shot in England in April, have assumed the dark chestnut back, and deep slaty grey of the crown ; the black is more extended on the breast ; the underparts conspicuously pale slaty grey ; and the bill black.
In winter the black of the chin and throat in the male are slightly margined with white ; crown brownish ; margins to feathers of back broader and richer chestnut ; under¬parts paler ; bill brown, base yellowish.
In some young males, the margins of the median coverts, are rich rufous brown.
The female from the U. S. America exhibits more of the shaft stripes on the throat and breast, than in the English birds ; the ear-coverts of the male are darker grey.
The type of Sir W. Jardines P. indicus in my collection is a young male, just assuming the breeding plumage of early spring.
The Indian form is readily distinguished by its pure white cheeks and sides of neck, and paler underparts.
OF all the birds perhaps none has been so persecuted as the common House Sparrow, and no wonder ; I well remember when a boy while living close to the Crystal Palace, Sydenham, (to which I had daily access), associating with the workmen, who had to attend to all the roof and rain-water pipes of that building, I was in my glory watching the continuous and everlasting labour of clearing out basketsful of straw, hay, rags, feathers, tow, cottons, leaves, twigs and other refuse, carried there for the nests of two indefatigable birds. Sparrows and Starlings’ eggs in any number came from every nook and corner, this accumulation of rubbish gave great trouble, stopping up and causing an over-flow of water and decay of iron pipes, which had to be replaced and many strengthened to support the building. Well may the farmers and owners of property condemn and place a high price on the head of a sparrow, which he well deserves, not only for the quantity of food he consumes, but the destruction on all sides, by his too sociable habits.
When reading Mr. J. H. Gurney's continental notes of this bird in Metz,—“The cottagers” he says, "put up pots of earthenware against the walls of their houses for the sparrows to nest in, not by way of encouraging them (as the English encourage Martins), but to make them into a pie when the young ones get big enough,”—reminded me that when the old thatched buildings such as the Wapiti House, Elephant House, and similar places existed in the Zoological Gardens, they formed a perfect paradise for our home loving and very domesticated enemy, which were in greater numbers even than now, the keepers used the very same kind of German or Dutch earthenware pots, but the young were utilized for a very different purpose, they being given to the small mammals ; hawks, owls, lizards, snakes, &c.
It was during those early days of mine, that the Australian and New Zealand governments persuaded my father to prepare a large number of all our British Birds alive for those colonies, and it fell to my lot to under¬take the management of them until they were shipped, it was amongst this mixed congregation of the feathered tribe, that many pairs of sparrows formed a most troublesome addenda, for they would not be tamed or stop on their perches, but always persisted in crawling through the bars at the bottom of the cage and sulking there until turned out again.
It is with feelings of humiliation and regret, that I ever had a hand (I am speaking of nearly twenty-five years ago) in sending to those colonies one of their greatest pests, for such are the reports of this bird which continually reach us.
Some enthusiastic person, did a similar act for the United States, which has brought about legislation and a whole army of scientific and other men to wage war against this corn-eating, seed devouring “ruffian.”
The back of this institution (Maidstone Museum) is beautifully covered with ivy, which the sparrow has taken possession of for years, builds its nest and rears its young in perfect safety, but by permitting this to go on, I have lost (without thinking about it) a beautiful pink May-tree, they have by degrees eaten off all the small buds during the winter, thus preventing the tree from throwing out a single leaf, and since the dead tree has been removed, they have taken to two others close by, which will I fear, share the same fate as the first, for they make them a perfect feeding ground during the winter.
To use the words of Bewick written in 1816 respecting the plumage of the sparrow might appear to some of far too early a date for quotation, but, it is one of those passages, which T am more impressed with than those of later authors, “This bird, as seen in large and smoky towns, is generally sooty and unpleasing in its appearance ; but among barns and stackyards the cock bird exhibits a very great variety of his plumage, and is far from being the least beautiful of our British birds.”
Whenever I exhibit the lovely skins of the common house sparrow to those who never had the bird in their hands before, the exclamations of admiration and surprise are curious to relate ; is it a thrush, a redwing, a chaffinch, a brambling, and some have gone so far as to ask if it is a goldfinch, a clean country sparrow puzzles many, however familiar they are with the dirty groping street bird, who cocks his eye up sideways, draws your attention, and seizing the crumbs from your feet, flies off, returning with all the impertinence in the world for the next. They will even go so far as to have a tremendous family quarrel and flog their lady friends under one’s nose, be it summer or in the depth of winter. I have witnessed this quarrel when the snow was three inches deep, and they (four in number) appeared more like young rats fighting for the last crust than birds, the snow flying in all directions.
It would be almost impossible to form an adequate estimate of the literature on the sparrow, both for and against its habits :—In Griffith’s edition of Cuvier’s Animal Kingdom, I find an excellent calculation regarding the quantity of corn consumed by this bird ; it is as follows —“Rougier de la Bergerie, a French writer on rural economy, has made an approximative calculation of what the sparrows cost, annually, to France. If their number be reduced merely to ten millions, a reduction much below the reality, it follows, that each of them eating a bushel of grain, weighing twenty pounds, ten millions of bushels will thus be withdrawn from the consumption and commerce of men ; and, only reckoning the price of a bushel to be twenty sous, no less a sum than ten millions of francs per annum, will be withdrawn from agricultural produce. This calculation of an able agriculturist is con¬firmed by observation. The quantity of grain eaten by these birds, may be easily ascertained by those who bring them up in cages ; and M. Sonnini, from whom we borrow these observations, says, that he found two-and twenty grains of wheat in the stomach of a sparrow just killed.”
From the very interesting and most important “little work on the sparrow controversy” entitled ‘The House Sparrow,’ full of detail and careful observation, written by Mr. J. H. Gurney, Jun., Col. C. Russell, and Dr. E. Cones, I (although no friend of the sparrow), think that the observations of Mr. J. H. Gurney (p. 8) are worthy of great con¬sideration. He says—“If one-fourth of the young sparrows hatched in England are fed for ten days on 14 caterpillars apiece, it is easy to make a calculation of how many they would eat in a large agricultural county like Norfolk. Norfolk contains 800 parishes : say that 800 young sparrows are annually hatched in each parish ; that gives us a total of 640,000 sparrows. If one-fourth of them are fed on caterpillars, we should have 22,400,000 of these destructive creatures eaten in this one county alone, every year, by sparrows. So that there is a very nice balance to adjust in a matter which the most expert observer might find difficult. On the one hand the young sparrows are fed on a great many caterpillars ; on the other hand they are fed with grain, but this is mixed with weeds and other vegetable matter. Again, there is a sidelight in which to look at the question :—If the sparrows were dead, how many of these caterpillars would be eaten by other small birds ? We may be quite sure that a con¬siderable portion of them would not be eaten, unless chaffinches and green¬finches become more numerous than they are now ; and if this was so, would not they speedily become much more addicted to corn ? I think there is not a doubt about it.”
Mr. H. Seebohm in his British Birds’ Eggs (p. 63) tells us that “In the hot months of the year the house sparrow is excessively fond of dusting itself, like the domestic fowl ; and sometimes as many as half a dozen may be seen enjoying this luxury in company. In Derbyshire, where the roads are mostly limestone, sparrows are not unfrequently seen to fly from them with their plumage almost as white as snow. The sparrow’s flight is rapid, and when prolonged for any great distance is undulating, but when only flying a little way it is almost direct. Upon the ground it progresses in a series of hops.” Mr. Dresser says, “the sparrow is eminently gregarious ; even during the breeding-season one observes it in small groups searching after food ; and in the autumn and winter they collect in flocks and frequent the hedges and stack-yards, and are often seen in very large flocks in the corn-fields.”
The distribution of this species is perhaps greater than any other known bird ; it occupies every city, town, village, castle, manor, solitary church, private residence, hamlet, the smallest isolated cottage, to the woodman’s hut in the depth of the most lonely forests throughout the whole of Europe, and from Siberia in the North to Egypt, Nubia and Bengal ; as Mr. H. E. Dresser truly remarks, “it follows the footsteps of man almost like a domestic animal, and where he fixes his habitation there the sparrow also takes up its abode.”
In England it is found in every county, from the borders of Scotland to the Scilly Islands, to the West throughout Ireland, to the North in Scotland and its adjacent islands, passing still farther North to the Orkney and Shetland Islands, I procured it in Unst the most northern of the latter group. It does not appear to be found in Iceland or the Faroe Islands, but is plentiful in the warmer valleys of Scandinavia.
Its range according to travellers and collectors, extends from Southern Europe to Madeira, the Canary Islands ; Morocco, Algeria, and Tangiers in N.-W. Africa ; throughout Turkey in Europe, Asia Minor, Palestine into Egypt, and Nubia, the shores of the Red Sea to the borders of the Blue Nile as far as Khartoum. To the east the vast territories in which it has been observed, gives further proof of its extension, wherever the cultivation of corn is practicable, there they are found by thousands. It is abundant in Persia according to Mr. Blanford ; from thence it advances to Turkestan, Baluchistan, Afghanistan, and extremely common in the valleys of the Himalayas and India, from Calcutta, Bengal, Madras, Nepal, Cashmere, Burmah and Siam, to Ceylon and the adjacent islands. At present I am unable to find any account of its appearance in China, or Japan.
The introduction of it into Australia, New Zealand, and the United States is of comparatively modern date, but those found in Mauritius and Reunion must have been taken there at a very early period.
Nidification.—It matters little to a sparrow, as to choice of a nesting place, whether it be a Palace, the House of Lords or Commons, Nelson’s Column, the National Gallery, the British Museum, Guildhall, the Mansion House, or the Royal Exchange, let it be a stone building or a galvanized iron one, there is sure to be an unlucky corner left for him, which he is not slow to discover, quite regardless of the sensitive nerves of the occupants ; his dignity is not even lowered when in possession of a hut, or a pig-sty, so long as he can find an aperture large enough to drag in hay and rags. The crown of a rain water-pipe is always a most favourite position for a nest, although the bird heedlessly places it there, losing many broods during heavy rains.
The sparrow will occasionally build a dome-shaped nest in a tree or a bush, these structures are large and loosely constructed, some that I have seen were of such dimensions as to make it appear as though two nests were united.
I have a nest taken from an ivy covered wall, composed of hay, straw, bents and the tail feathers of pigeons, the latter are stuck in an upright position, and amongst them a dyed blue duck’s and a green ostrich feather, no doubt belonging to a young lady’s bonnet, the tips of each feather meeting, thus forming a complete bower ; the interior is lined with the downy feathers of the fowl.
The eggs five in number, are of the usual types ; the ground-colour is dirty white variously spotted and streaked with pale grey, blackish-brown, purplish-brown, and yellowish-brown, and many of the small blotches overlaping each other, while one is completely striated all over, in another the brown is dispersed over the surface.
The dimensions of each egg are, viz.:—L. 0.85, b. 0.60. L. 0.82, b. 0.64. L. 0.77, b. 0.63. L. 0.80, b 0.63. L. 0.82, b. 0.64.
The eggs are extremely variable, from almost chocolate-brown to pure white, with a few blackish-brown blotches unevenly scattered on the surface. From four to seven eggs are the usual numbers found in the nests.
Some of the largest eggs in my collection measure :—L. 0.9, b. 0.64. L. 0.95, b. 0.68, while others are only L. 0.79, b. 0.63. L. 0.85, b. 0.60.
Those of the Indian bird in ray collection obtained by Capt. Beavan at Beerachalee in India, when placed side by side with those taken in Eng¬land, cannot be distinguished, the general colours being identical, and the measurements vary to the same extent.
From a series of over 84 skins from India, Mauritius, Nubia, Egypt, Comoro Islands, United States, Shetland, and various counties of England, I have selected the under-mentioned examples for the dimen¬sions.
No. Sex. Mus. Locality. Date. Length. Wing. Tail. Tars. Culm.
1 Male E. B. Kiugsbury, N. London. W. 6.2 2.9 2.3 0.7 0.5
2 Female E. B. Kingsbury, N. London. S. 6 2.8 2.2 0.7 0.45
3 Male E. B. Maidstone, Kent. Oct. 5.9 2.95 2.2 0.75 0.45
4 Female E. B. Maidstone, Kent. Oct. 5.9 2.85 2.3 0.7 0.45
5 Male E. B. Unst, Shetland. Nov. 6 2.95 2.35 0.7 0.45
6 Female E. B. Unst, Shetland. Nov. 5.8 2.2 2.25 0.7 0.5
7 Male E. B. Maidstone, Kent. May. 5.8 2.95 2.25 0.75 0.45
8 Male E. B. Maidstone, Kent. Dec. 5.75 2.9 2.25 0.75 0.5
9 Female E. B. Maidstone, Kent. Dec. 5.8 2.95 2.3 0.7 0.5
10 Male E. B. Maidstone, Kent. April. 5.45 3 2.4 0.75 0.55
11 Male E. B. U. S. America (Garrett) May. 6 3 2.3 0.75 0.5
12 Female E. B. U. S. America (Ridgway) June. 5.45 2.9 2.3 0.7 0.55
No. Sex. Mus. Locality. Date. Length. Wing. Tail. Tars. Culm.
1 Male E. B. Kotekhaie (Hume). Feb. 5.25 2.85 2.25 0.7 0.45
2 Female E. B. Jural in Khunaitee (Hume). Dec. 4.75 2.85 2.25 0.7 0.45
3 Male E. B. India ? 5.3 2.9 2.3 0.65 0.4
4 Female E. B. India ? 4.9 2.8 2.2 0.6 0.4
5 Male E. B. India (Jardine, coll.) ? 5.55 2.8 2.3 0.65 0.45
6 Male E. B. S. India (Jerdon). W. 5.5 2.95 2.25 0.7 0.5
7 Male E. B. Nubia (Adams). Jan. 5.55 2.85 2.3 0.7 0.5
8 Female E. B. Nubia (Adams). Jan. 5.3 2.75 2.25 0.7 0.45
9 Male E. B. Egypt (Adams). Dec. 5.25 2.9 2.25 0.65 0.45
10 Female E. B. Egypt (Adams). Dec. 5.35 2.8 2.2 0.7 0.45
The figures (Plate 1) are taken from Nos. 8 and 9 male and female, procured at Maidstone in December.
The abbreviations are W. winter S. summer.
LINES TO A SPARROW.
“Who comes to my Window every morning for his Breakfast.”
“Master Dicky, my dear, You have nothing to fear, Tour proceedings I mean not to check, sir ; Whilst the weather benumbs, We should pick up our crumbs, So, I prithee, make free with a peck, sir.
I’m afraid it’s too plain You’re a villain in grain, But in that you resemble your neighbours, For mankind have agreed It is right to such seed, Then, like you, hop the twig with their labours.
Besides this, Master Dick, You of trade have the trick, In all branches you traffic at will, sir.
You have no need of shops For your samples of hops, And can ev'ry day take up your bill, sir.
Then in foreign affairs You may give yourself airs, For I’ve heard it reported at home, sir, That you’re on the best terms With the diet of Worms, And have often been tempted to Rome, sir.
Thus you feather your nest In the way you like best, And live high without fear of mishap, sir ; You are fond of your grub, Have a taste for some shrub, And for gin— there you understand trap, sir.
The' the rivers won’t flow In the frost and the snow, And for fish other folks vainly try, sir ; Yet you’ll have a treat, For, in cold or in heat, You can still take perch with a fly, sir.
In love, too, oh Dick, (The’ you oft when love-sick On the course of good breeding may trample ; And though often henpeck’d, Yet) you scorn to neglect To set all mankind an eggsample.
Your opinions ’tis true Are flighty a few, But at this I, for one, will not grumble ; So—your breakfast you’ve got, And you’re off like a shot, Dear Dicky, your humble cum-tumble.”*
* Hone's Every-Day Book, vol. Ill. p. 364 (1838). Copied from the Examiner, Feb. 12, 1815.