Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Spain 19: Rock Sparrow

Rock Sparrow. Note yellow throat patch
All over the world, the English name for a small, brown, streaky bird tends to include the word “Sparrow” even if the bird concerned is not at all closely related to the pretty much universally distributed House Sparrow. Having said that, the subject of the present post, the Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia, does belong to the same family as House and Tree Sparrows, albeit a separate genus.

The various species of Petronia (there are five) are all found in the Old World, ranging from Africa across to Asia. Only the Rock Sparrow is found in southern Europe. Most species live in dry grassland and bushy savannah, but Rock Sparrows are birds of barren hillsides and rocky places as their name suggests, and tend to avoid the lusher areas of grassland preferred by their relatives. They have heavy bills and can use larger seeds than the grasses used by House Sparrows. Like them they also take insects and especially require them when raising young.
Rock Sparrow fledglings
Rock Sparrow nest in crevices in the rocks and produce a clutch of between 3 and 7 eggs. Incubation is 12-15 days and the young fledge at around 21 days. There are usually two broods each year except at altitude where the breeding season is shorter. Although not colonial like House Sparrows, outside the breeding season they are gregarious and form nomadic flocks.

Given the large range and habitat Rock Sparrows do not face any particular threats and are consequently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN.

(image from Wikipedia)

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