Archive for Aug 17th, 2013


A Chance Glance

A chance glance out of the window yesterday saw me reaching for my bins. The House Sparrow that was exiting stage left was a little more chestnut than it should have been. A tree Sparrow … I bet!

All the Sparrows had gone. I waited for them to return bins in hand. There it was again then it was gone. Mmmm, perhaps Tree Sparrow; but it didn’t look quite right.

Andy arrived. It showed just as briefly again. “No cheek spots” he said. It was only after he left it showed well. No it wasn’t a Tree Sparrow. The photographs indicate it is some type of hybrid … maybe showing characteristics of Italian Sparrow.

Italian Sparrows are hybrids between House Sparrows and Spanish Sparrows and have never been recorded in the UK. Some authorities treat them as a separate species.  It’s all rather up in the air. I’ve seen Italian Sparrows in France and they are quite variable so maybe we have something special here. Or maybe not … who knows.

Today it was realised the bird was breeding with a House Sparrow and was bringing food to a nest under the tiles on a neighbour’s house.

We all know that Spanish Sparrow is a rare vagrant to the UK. I’ve seen a male in Cumbria many years ago and there was a male at Landguard in Suffolk a year or two ago. These were easily recognised because they were male. Pick up a copy of Collins and look at Spanish Sparrow. It actually uses the word ‘Impossible’ when talking about differentiating female Spanish from female House Sparrows. So supposing we had a female Spanish Sparrow that turned up locally and it bred with a male House Sparrow would the resultant ‘Italian Sparrow’ look like this bird?

Whatever it is … it is interesting.

Confused? … wait while the young fledge!

Sparrow sp

Sparrow sp 2

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Aug 2013


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