Mar 20

Today marks World Sparrow Day, a day to celebrate and take action for the once-common house sparrow.

Photo of male house sparrow drinking from shallow puddle

Male house sparrow

Often colloquially known as the ‘Cockney sparrow’, the house sparrow is well known to many people as a common and widespread small bird. Of the world’s 26 true sparrow species, it is the house sparrow which has colonised the world as a result of global trade, and is now found on almost every continent.

However, although once a familiar sight in many areas, the house sparrow has undergone a dramatic decline in parts of its range. In the United Kingdom alone, its population has dropped by a staggering 71% since 1977, and sharp declines have also been noted in other countries.

Photo of dead house sparrow carried by domestic cat

House sparrows face many threats, from pollution to predators

The exact reasons for these declines are unclear, but may include a combination of pollution, a reduction in food availability, a loss of suitable habitat and nesting sites, increased predation and disease. Urban noise has also been linked with sparrow declines, possibly as it prevents the adult birds from hearing the hunger calls of their chicks.

Celebrating sparrows

The idea for World Sparrow Day, which was first celebrated in 2010, came from the Nature Forever Society, who saw its potential for making a positive difference to the fate of the house sparrow. It is hoped that the day can help convey the message about the need to conserve this and other common bird species, as well as marking a day of celebration of the common biodiversity which we can often take for granted.

Photo of tree sparrow feeding in winter

The tree sparrow is another sparrow species which is in decline in parts of its range

Those involved hope to inspire as many people as possible to join the celebrations and get involved in the conservation of house sparrows and their habitats. Suggested actions include talking about sparrows on social media websites and highlighting their plight, as well as creating sparrow habitats and providing sparrows with nest boxes and feeding stations.

World Sparrow Day is therefore a chance for everyone to rise to the challenge of saving this once-common and much-loved small bird.


Find out more about World Sparrow Day at World Sparrow Day and the Nature Forever Society.

You can also find out more about the day at RSPB News – World Sparrow Day.

View photos and videos of sparrow species on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author