Keep a look out for pesky house sparrows

There aren’t many wild animals that are found almost everywhere around the world. Any world beating critter needs to be fierce, hardy, adaptable and able to compete with others of their kind. Such successful creatures would be fast breeders and able and willing to eat pretty much anything they come across.

An efficient traveller such as this would also most likely have had assistance from people on its journey and be able to take advantage of the changes that people make to their environment.

If you are starting to think about a large and fearsome flesh-eating beast you are barking up quite the wrong tree. You need to move over to the eaves of the roof where a small bustling house sparrow is busily building a large untidy nest from grass, wool, feathers or pretty much anything else it can lay its beak on.

The house sparrow was one of the first animals to be given a scientific name in the modern system of biological classification. In 1775 Carl Linnaeus named it Passer domesticus, perhaps in recognition of its close association with human domesticity.

Introduced into Melbourne from England somewhere around 1863, the house sparrow spread into urban areas over much of the eastern half of Australia. They are common around Alice Springs but until recently rarely seen in the Top End.

There have been occasional sightings of sparrows in Darwin over the years, not many but enough to be of concern. Their numbers have increased recently and Parks and Wildlife Rangers have been busy in the Muirhead area eradicating an alarmingly large flock. They would like to ask everyone to keep their eyes peeled for those that may have escaped their efforts.

The rangers have also said that there are things that you can do to help control this feathered pest. Blocking holes or gaps around the house it will stop sparrows from being able to build nests in them. Active nests can be removed and destroyed and food scraps that may attract birds should be removed and disposed of properly.

Female and juvenile sparrows are usually a buff brown and males are a brighter black, white, grey and brown patchwork of feather colours. If you see a small, scruffy looking bird about 16 centimeters in length hopping around like a rabbit give the Darwin Wildlife Operations team a call on 0401 115 702 as soon as you can.