Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  House Sparrow
 
 

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OWSparrows

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  Order Passeriformes
   Suborder Passeres - Oscines (Song Birds)
      Parvorder Passerida (Superfamily Passeroidea)
        Family Passeridae - Old World Sparrows

  Passerines are generally smaller than non-passerines. They have a perching foot with three toes directed forward and the one backward with locking tendons to facilitate perching when their tendons are flexed. All passerines scratch by bringing the foot over the wing. Incubation ranges from 11 -21 days. Young hatch blind with little or no down and spend 10-15 days or so in the nest - development is rapid and parents provide care beyond fledging.
Oscines are passerines with complex syringeal musculature used to produce varied vocalizations. 
Passeroids include the Nine-primaried Oscines, pipits, Old World sparrows, and weavers.
Passerids (the Old World Sparrows, Rock Sparrows, and Snowfinches) are small brownish or gray birds with short tails and conical beaks. They have ten-primaries and are gregarious. They are successful commensals of man and have been widely introduced around the world.  
     
     
  □ House Sparrow, Passer domesticus
 
       Cornell     USGS     Wiki     EoL
        YEAR-ROUND - Seabrook? / Hypothetical
            URBAN AND FARM AREAS
MORE PICTURES
 
   The familiar House or "English" Sparrow is a commensal of man. It was introduced in Brooklyn in1851 and reached Charleston by the 70s. Today it is found throughout the US and into Mexico. Adult males have a black bill and black breast with white cheeks, belly and median wing coverts and a gray crown. A rufous patch extends from the eye to the nape in males in breeding plumage. Non-breeding birds have a yellowish bill and lighter throat. Females and young are a dingy gray with a drab crown.
House Sparrow - male




  Male
      House Sparrow - female




   Female
RANGE: House ("English") Sparrows now range from Newfound and Labrador west to southern portions of the Northwest Territories and the southern coast of British Columbia south through Baja and Mexico, extending east along the Gulf coast and Florida and north along the Atlantic coast.
BREEDING: Monogamous. 2-3 broods. House Sparrows nest in an artificial or natural cavity, often in man-made structures (under roofs, gables, in down-spouts, etc.). They may also appropriate nests of other species (bluebirds, swallows, etc.), destroying their eggs/young. Sometimes (as in the Old World) they may build a large ball-shaped nest with a side entrance in the woods. The female lays 4-6 (2-7) eggs which both parents incubate for 10-14 days. Development is altricial and young fledge after 14-17 days. The female broods the young but both sexes feed them.
  DIET: Their diet is insects, spiders, seeds, blossoms, and human cast-offs. They feed the young insects. They forage mostly on the ground but may perch on weed stalks for seeds.
House Sparrow. Marken, Netherlands       
  VOICE: Their song is a monotonous series of obnoxious chirps.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Kiawah - uncommon year-round.
      Coastal - fairly common permanent resident. Hilton Head - fairly common permanent resident.
        Cape Romain
- uncommon year-round, breeds. Huntington Beach - rare, year-round.
      ACE - accidental.
   CBC: Charleston 1, 12, 4, 2, 3, 7, 37, 0;
            St Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 10, 7; Hilton Head 20, 63, 4, 34, 15, 7, 5, 63; Sun City/Okatie 0, 0, 8, 12, 4, 7, 7, 36;
            McClellanville 5, 2, 4, 4, nc, 0, 2, 3; Winyah Bay x, x, 4, 12, 15, 4, 1, 0; Litchfield/Pawley's 56, 148, 81, 172, 95, 251, 178, 103.
   SCBBA: All counties. Urban areas. Not yet on Seabrook.
   P&G: First reported in SC in 1874 or 1874. Egg dates: 3 April - 27 June.
   Avendex: No records.
   Potter: Abundant permanent resident, being scarce or absent only in habitats removed from human settlement.
  ●  House Sparrows are abundant and have benefited from human activities (actually they declined as cars replaced horses, loosing a valuable source of food in the food and feces of the draft animals). Fortunately, they are not on the Seabrook Island list of birds and I have not seen them here (they would first appear around the stables which do feed European Starlings). It appears that they are not common in coastal areas unless they are urbanized.
   On a more somber note, I think I caught a glimpse of one at Freshfields in July 2006 - if they become established there, it is only a short hop to the Equestrian Center where they will thrive! If on Kiawah, they will come.

   Note that the genus Passer is the type genus for the Passeriformes (the genus for which the order is named) and should, therefore, be regarded as the 'typical' perching bird - obnoxious habits and all! Actually, our dislike of this species is unusual - in Europe where they are native and may still inhabit areas remote from humans, they are generally accepted as "one of the gang." We tend to regard them as noisy intruders.
   I have debated the index name for this group because our sparrows are really emberizines, not passerids. However, biting the bullet I've compromised, using OW (Old World) Sparrows. Sigh.
   On a personal note, we always disliked catching House Sparrows when banding. As a plus, we didn't catch many because our activities were conducted in rural areas. Also, if caught in a maze trap (one in which the way in remains open but is not apparent to individuals once in the trap), House Sparrows readily learn to come and go - feeding and not being caught. They also seemed to be able to figure a way out of nets. If, however, one is trapped it must be handled carefully and kept under control. Most birds move toward the light so they can be caught against a window if they are accidentally released indoors. With House Sparrows, if your first attempt is not successful, you don't get a second one. They learn quickly and adaptively... Maybe they really do have some good points!
       
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