New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..

More kiwi for the Island

Date posted: 04-Apr-2017

In 1993 and 1995, sixteen little spotted kiwi were released on Tiritiri Matangi Island. The ma..

2017 Photo Competition

Date posted: 22-Mar-2017

It is that time of year again when we are looking for entries for our photo competition (and phot..

The 2017 concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2017

This year's concert promises to be another wonderful and unique experience. Click here (/concert-..

Shorebird Film Festival at Devonport

Date posted: 26-Oct-2016

Click here (/miscellaneous documents/DevWaderFilms.jpg) for details of a forthcoming film festival c..

Extra Dawn Chorus Trip

Date posted: 20-Oct-2016

Stop Press: Extra Dawn Chorus trip now scheduled for Thursday 27th October 2016. ..

2016 AGM

Date posted: 06-Sep-2016

The 2016 AGM was held at the Kohia Centre at 7:30 pm on Monday 19th September. Click here (/..

House Sparrow

Scientific name:

 Passer domesticus



Conservation status:

 Introduced and naturalised

Mainland status:


Size:  14cm, 30g


 15+ years possibly


 September - February


 Seeds, invertebrates, fruits and nectar

This gregarious, garrulous and quarrelsome bird was introduced into New Zealand between 1866 and 1871 and is now common throughout the mainland and off shore islands in farmland, orchards, gardens, parks and the edges of native forest.

The male has chestnut brown upper parts, streaked black, a dark grey crown, greyish brown rump, greyish white underparts and a black bib which is larger in the breeding season, when the conical greyish pink bill turns black. The female has dull sandy brown, streaked darker upper parts and greyish white underparts, with a pale buffy eyebrow and sides to neck. The call is an unmusical chatter of chirps and cheeps.

House Sparrows feed in flocks, eating mainly cereal, grass and weed seeds and invertebrates, fruit and nectar. They cause serious damage to cereal crops.

Breeding takes place between September and February and 3–4 broods a year are raised. The male builds a bulky, untidy domed nest with a side entrance composed of grasses and lined with feathers, in trees, buildings or on cliffs. The clutch of 3–6 greyish white, brown spotted eggs is incubated by both sexes for 10–15 days, the male playing a lesser role than the female. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge at 11–19 days.

Learn more about the house sparrow at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photographs: male (above), female (left) by Kay Milton ©

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking. Moon, G The Reed Field Guide to New Zealand Birds.