10 Incredible Sparrow Facts

Written by Crystal
Published: July 12, 2022
Image Credit fewerton/Shutterstock.com
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Fields, forests, deserts; sparrows live all over the place!

You might even spot one hanging out at a local grocery store. But you’ll have to look closely; these birds are small. It’s not uncommon for a sparrow to weigh less than an ounce and only be 4 in length.

What can we learn from these endearing birds? Read on to learn 10 incredible sparrow facts.

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1. Sparrows Are Easy to Attract

house sparrow
One of the incredible facts about sparrows is their ease of viewing! It’s easy for birders to attract sparrows to their yard.

Nick Vorobey/Shutterstock.com

Our incredible sparrow facts have to start with their ease of viewing! Sparrows are one of the easiest birds to attract to your backyard. Birders can encourage visits by putting out well-placed feeders. They’re even responsive to pishing.

Pishing is a way of imitating a bird’s call to attract them. It’s a useful technique for birders to master. If the weather is good and there aren’t nearby humans, it’s easy to call for sparrows. Other birds that respond to pishing include warblers, wrens, kinglets, jays, finches, and chickadees.

2. There Are at Least 35 Sparrow Species

North America has at least 35 different types of sparrow species. Some of the most common species include the American tree sparrow, the savannah sparrow, the fox sparrow, and the song sparrow. Two sparrow species live in Western North America; the golden-crowned sparrow and the baird sparrow.

As you make your way down to the Southern States in northern Mexico, you’ll find 10 different sparrow species! Other species living in Mexico include the black chin sparrow, the black-throated sparrow, and the five-striped sparrow.

3. Sparrows Use Cigarettes as Nest Material

incredible sparrow facts
Sparrow sits on the ground with a cigarette butt, they use them to drive parasitic mites away from their nests.

Kornienko Aleksey/Shutterstock.com

Why is that sparrow flying away with a cigarette? Don’t worry; it’s not going to smoke it; it’s going to build a nest.

Sparrows in the city are using cigarette butts to protect their nest. The nicotine helps drive away parasitic mites. When they can find an unsmoked cigarette, those butts work better than the smoked ones. This is because they have more nicotine to trap the mites.

4. A Sparrow Knocked Down 23,000 Dominoes

Can you imagine what it would be like almost breaking a world record, only to have a sparrow get in the way? That’s precisely what happened in the Netherlands when a sparrow knocked over a domino exhibit.

The female sparrow flew into the convention center, where 23,000 dominoes were set up for a big event. The display was almost complete. However, after the tiny house sparrow bumped it, everything fell.

What’s the lesson here? When setting up dominoes, make sure you close the window!

5. Sleep-Deprived Sparrows Are Still Alert

house sparrow
White-crowned sparrows seem to be immune to sleep deprivation, which helps them during migration.

Albert Beukhof/Shutterstock.com

Not catching enough z’s can ruin your day. But sparrows don’t have this issue. The white-crowned sparrow appears to be immune to sleep deprivation.

White-crowned sparrows can stay fully alert throughout long periods of sleep deprivation. The ability helps them when it’s time to migrate. They travel an impressive distance of 4,000 km between Southern California and Alaska, with almost zero shut-eye. They fly through the night and eat during the day. Wouldn’t it be great to have that type of energy?

6. Ohio Sparrows Are Getting Wooden Eggs

chipping sparrow eggs in a cozy nest
Sparrows that are harming native bird populations are having their eggs replaced with wooden replicas.

Beth Van Trees/Shutterstock.com

Moving on with more incredible sparrow facts, Ohio sparrows are overstaying their welcome. Ohians are upset that the sparrows are aggressively killing native birds.

Thankfully, residents are coming up with a humane solution. Instead of hurting the sparrows, they’re replacing their eggs with wooden replicas.

The hopes are to minimize the Ohio Sparrow population so the native birds can thrive. It makes you wonder what the Ohio sparrows will think when their wooden eggs never hatch.

7. Sparrows-Fart Is a Slang Word

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “fresh days start.” But have you heard about a sparrow fart?

Sparrows don’t pass gas, but their name has become a part of Australian slang. In Australia, it’s normal to say “sparrows fart” to describe a time very early in the day.

The hilarious expression came about in the 19th century. Country folk would use the term when talking about getting up at the “crack of dawn”.

8. They Can Change Their Tune

Song Sparrow perched on a branch and singing.
The white-throated sparrow has a new song.

iStock.com/PaulReevesPhotography

Many birds have distinct calls that stay the same year after year. It’s one of the ways birders can easily recognize a species without seeing it. However, researchers are discovering that certain bird species, like sparrows, can change their tune! It’s one of the most exciting and incredible sparrow facts.

White-throated sparrows across central Canada are changing one of their songs. They’re replacing a three-note melody with a two-note one.

Sometimes bird calls take a while to undergo evolution. However, the white-throated sparrows are experiencing a rapid shift in song.

The new song started in British Columbia, and now most of Canada’s white-throated sparrows are singing it. A shift this fast has never been observed before!

9. Male Sparrows Sound Sexier in the Cold

Why do birds sing so much in the morning time? For the Lincoln sparrows, it has to do with the temperature. Female Lincoln sparrows like hearing songs in the cold more than they do in the warm weather.

Males start singing as early as 5:00 a.m. They reach a crescendo around 5:30 and fade into silence by 6:00 a.m.

The morning time chorus happens during the coldest part of the day. Average temperatures are usually below 7° c. When a female hears a male who is brave enough to sing in the cold and still belt out a wonderful melody, she’ll know he’s a good mate.

10. They Show Aggression With Wing Waves

A male House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) sitting on a mossy branch
Swamp sparrows will wave their wings to show aggression during mating season.

Craig Howman/Shutterstock.com

Last on our list of incredible sparrow facts; they wave their wings to communicate with each other. Scientists used to believe that wing waving was a friendly way for sparrows to say hello or goodbye to friends. But that’s not the case. The opposite is true; wing waving is all about displaying anger.

Swamp sparrows wave their wings to show strength and willingness to fight. This behavior comes about during the breeding season. When a swamp sparrow starts waving its wings, it’s letting the other birds know it’s ready to fight. Larger birds like macaws and cockatoos also become aggressive during mating season.

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About the Author

Crystal is a curious writer who's always looking to learn more. When she's not out in nature, she's writing about it. Animals, plants, survival tips, and more. It'll be exciting to watch this author grow and learn with her along the way.

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