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Montana Animal Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

House Sparrow - Passer domesticus

Exotic Species (not native to Montana)

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNA

Agency Status


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Copyright by Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, all rights reserved.
General Description
Stout and stocky with short legs and a thick bill. Back brown with black streaking, male with gray crown, chestnut bordering crown and on nape; cheek white, black bib. Female with gray-brown crown and postocular line, pale buff supercilium, unmarked throat and breast. Tail is 3/4 of the length of the wing (Lowther and Cink 2006).

For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Western Hemisphere Range


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 3914

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density


(direct evidence "B")

(indirect evidence "b")

No evidence of Breeding
(transient "t")

(regular observations "W")

(at least one obs. "w")


(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Breeding habitat is mostly associated with human modified environments such as farms, and residential and urban areas. Absent from extensive woodlands, forests, grasslands, and deserts. During postbreeding flocking, birds move into areas farther from breeding areas (e.g. grain fields rather than farmsteads). Winter habitat is the same as breeding habitat (Lowther and Cink 2006).

Food Habits
Have been known to eat livestock feed. Grains, weed seeds, relatively few insects. Urban birds eat commercial birdseed (Lowther and Cink 2006).

This species did not occupy all of Montana until sometime between 1898 and 1908.

Reproductive Characteristics
Nest often in enclosed spaces. If they nest in trees the nest usually is a globular structure with a side entrance and may share a wall with a neighboring nest. Successful birds may have up to 4 clutches per season. Clutch size varies from 1 to 8 eggs (Lowther and Cink 2006). Young have been reported in the nest on July 4 in Gallatin County. Nesting typically begins in early April and may last to mid-September.

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Lowther, P. E., and C. L. Cink. 1992. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus). In The birds of North America, No. 12 (A. Poole, P. Stettenheim, and F. Gill, Eds.). Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and American Ornithologists’ Union. [Revised online 1 February 2006]
    • Marks, J.S., P. Hendricks, and D. Casey. 2016. Birds of Montana. Arrington, VA. Buteo Books. 659 pages.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • American Ornithologists’ Union [AOU]. 1998. Check-list of North American birds, 7th edition. American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C. 829 p.
    • Bramblett, Robert G., and Alexander V. Zale. 2002. Montana Prairie Riparian Native Species Report. Montana Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, Montana State University - Bozeman.
    • Davis, C.V. 1961. A distributional study of the birds of Montana. Ph.D. dissertation. Oregon State University, Corvallis. 462 pp.
    • Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp.
    • Farrand, J. 1983. Audubon Society Master Guide to Birding, No. 2 Gulls to Dippers. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. New York. New York, pp 176-178.
    • Johnsgard, P.A. 1992. Birds of the Rocky Mountains with particular reference to national parks in the northern Rocky Mountain region. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. xi + 504 pp.
    • Lenard, S., J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar’s Montana bird distribution, 6th edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, MT. 144 pp.
    • Martin, T.E. 1980. Diversity and abundance of spring migratory birds using habitat islands on the Great Plains. Condor 82: 430-439.
    • Montana Bird Distribution Committee. 2012. P.D. Skaar's Montana bird distribution. 7th Edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, Montana. 208 pp. + foldout map.
    • Sibley, D. 2014. The Sibley guide to birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY. 598 pp.
    • Skaar, P. D., D. L. Flath, and L. S. Thompson. 1985. Montana bird distribution. Montana Academy of Sciences Monograph 3(44): ii-69.
    • Skaar, P.D. 1969. Birds of the Bozeman latilong: a compilation of data concerning the birds which occur between 45 and 46 N. latitude and 111 and 112 W. longitude, with current lists for Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, impinging Montana counties and Yellowstone National Park. Bozeman, MT. 132 p.
    • Stewart, R.E. 1975. Breeding birds of North Dakota. Tri-College Center for Environmental Studies, Fargo, North Dakota. 295 pp.
    • U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 688. 625 pages.
    • Western Technology and Engineering, Inc. (WESTECH)., 2001, Wildlife Monitoring Absaloka Mine Area Annual Report, 2000. Montana SMP 85005. OSMP Montana 0007E. February 2001.
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Citation for data on this website:
House Sparrow — Passer domesticus.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on August 30, 2016, from