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Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Joy Snydal Manikel
Photo © Joy Snydal Manikel

Photo: Joy Snydal Manikel
Breeding evidence - Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Breeding evidence

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Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Passer montanus

Click on plot to view table of mean abundance
Conserv. status:
SRANK: Not Applicable (SNA)
Number of squares
ConfirmedProbablePossiblePoint counts
0 0 0 0
Long-term BBS trends
RegionYearsTrend (conf. interv.) Reliab.
BBS trends are not available for this species

Mean abundance (number of birds detected per 5 min. point count) and percentage of squares occupied by region

Bird Conservation Regions [abund. plot] [%squares plot]
Arctic Plains and MountainsBoreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Softwood Shield
Boreal Taiga PlainsPrairie PotholesTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains

Characteristics and Range The Eurasian Tree Sparrow resembles a male House Sparrow, but has a whiter cheek, with a prominent blackish spot, the white extending into a collar on the bird's nape, and a rich brown crown. Unlike the House Sparrow, there is no sex difference in plumage. Native to much of Eurasia, and introduced into North America near St. Louis, Missouri in 1870, it has spread into Illinois and southeast Iowa as a breeder and year-round resident (Barlow et al. 2017). Three individual Eurasian Tree Sparrows, confirmed by photos, were found in Manitoba in 1986, 2013, and 2014. The first and third remained for several years after their discovery, both eventually producing hybrid offspring with House Sparrows, but there is no evidence of any breeding during the atlas period.

Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat The sole atlas record of Eurasian Tree Sparrow was one discovered by Garry Budyk in a throng of House Sparrows in north Winnipeg on 14 December, 2014, the final year of the atlas, but well after the breeding season. As Winnipeg is far from the species' normal breeding range this was not considered as possible breeding evidence. This bird has remained in the area (until at least March, 2018), and at least two hybrid Eurasian Tree Sparrow X House Sparrows, presumably its offspring, were subsequently observed. Eurasian Tree Sparrows are similar to House Sparrows in habitat requirements, associated with human activity and nesting cavities. Where both are present, Eurasian Tree Sparrows tend to predominate in parks and woodlots away from buildings, whereas House Sparrows frequent buildings in heavily agricultural and dense urban areas (Barlow et al. 2017). In Manitoba, not surprisingly, all Eurasian Tree Sparrow sightings have been alongside House Sparrows.

Trends, Conservation, and Recommendations The Eurasian Tree Sparrow expanded from its initial release point, primarily along the wooded valleys of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, but then stalled in the early 20th century (Barlow et al. 2017). In recent years, however, numbers have increased in the core range, as documented by the BBS and CBC and, especially since the 1980s, there has been an increasing number of extralimital records (Barlow et al. 2017). Hybridization of pioneer birds with House Sparrows may be a barrier to establishment of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow in Manitoba and elsewhere.

Robert Parsons

Recommended citation: Parsons, R. 2018. Eurasian Tree Sparrow in Artuso, C., A. R. Couturier, K. D. De Smet, R. F. Koes, D. Lepage, J. McCracken, R. D. Mooi, and P. Taylor (eds.). The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Manitoba, 2010-2014. Bird Studies Canada. Winnipeg, Manitoba [26 May 2024]

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