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Passerines correspond to an animal order. They are also referred to as passeriformes but also songbirds. The order has 6,400 species, more than half of the planet’s birds.

What characterizes a sparrow?

Given the large number of species, passerines are not characterized by the color of their plumage. The male and female are often different, with the male exhibiting brighter colors than the female who, as she is responsible for incubating the eggs, needs a more discreet appearance to blend in with the foliage. The young closely resemble the female until the first molt.

Their size is not a criterion either since the Javan pygmy tit is the smallest passerine bird and weighs 4 g, while the crow, the largest, weighs 1.5 kg.

Instead, you should pay attention to their beak, which is thin and cone-shaped, and their melodious song. They are among the birds with the most developed singing organ (they have up to five muscles).

Their flight is rapid. Most, when they move on the ground, instead of walking, they move by hopping.

Where do sparrows live?

Sparrows live in trees. They set up the nest there. As perching birds, they are anisodactyl, meaning they have four toes, one of which is located backwards to better grip branches. Their leg muscles automatically lock when they are perched, including during sleep. It is at dusk that the passerines reach places where the vegetation is dense to be protected in the event of bad weather.

What do sparrows feed on?

Diet varies greatly between passerine species. Their short or medium beak generally makes them granivores or insectivores. However, many also eat seasonal fruits. We consider that sparrows, finches or bullfinches are granivores, that blackbirds or thrushes are frugivores and that tits or robin are insectivores.

During the breeding season

Passerines generally breed in spring, except for a few species living in particularly cold or warm regions. These birds become aggressive and territorial during the breeding season. They are also very active because of the courtship display which is done by singing and flying. Sparrows live in pairs throughout the breeding season (otherwise, they congregate in mixed groups).

Sparrows can have one to four broods per year. The chicks are most often altricial and must be fed by the parents until they fledge, and even a few days later for certain species.

6 of the best-known passerine species

The sparrow: this is undoubtedly the best-known example of a passerine bird because it has adapted very well to life in urban and rural environments, and we often come across it there.

The robin: a small passerine bird recognizable by its bright red breast, it is very present in our gardens.

The starling: it is a cave-dwelling species that uses tree cavities for shelter. But with the scarcity of old trees, it nests closer and closer to humans, using crevices and cavities in buildings.

The swallow: it is a well-known migratory passerine bird which is becoming rarer. Some people consider their nests to be a nuisance.

The blackbird: recognizable by its entirely black plumage, it is a very good singer, with a varied repertoire.

The black-billed magpie: recognizable by its massive appearance and its white and black plumage, iridescent with blue and green reflections on the tail and wings.

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