Is It a Sparrow?

Is it an English House Sparrow otherwise known as HOSP? If you are pulling nests or trapping, it is important that you are sure. It is amazing how many times even the most common of birds is misidentified.  

It’s important to note, that there are other birds that look VERY similar to HOSPs.  Remember, Non-native HOSP will enter a cavity and destroy eggs, young and adult native birds. The only other bird that will destroy eggs is a native House Wren. House WrenHouse Wrens are smaller, have a long pointy beak(NOT a fat conical beak), tail often held upright(Not held down). They Have NO BLACK bib. They have a drab grayish- brown, belly. House Wrens are native and are protected.

English House Sparrow (HOSP)


male HOSP head shotMale HOSP head shot

(NOTE: Males have a black, v-shaped bib on the breast under their beak and GRAY cap on the top of their head with chestnut below.) 

Female HOSPFemale HOSP

Female HOSP head shotFemale HOSP head shot

(NOTE: Females DO NOT have the black bib or the chestnut (reddish/brown) color on the sides of their heads. They do have a pale streak running back from their eye. They have a dull NON-streaked breast.)

 Some birds that Look like hosp

Chipping SparrowChipping Sparrow: Cap is chestnut (reddish-brown) NOT gray. NO BIB. Smaller in size than hosp. Will not harm birds or eggs. Does NOT nest in a cavity.

House FinchHouse Finch: Both male and female have a streaked breast. Notice reddish cast to head and chest of male. NO bib, no grey cap, no chestnut head.(Photo courtesy Terry Sohl of

Black-Capped ChickadeeBlack Capped Chickadee: These birds DO nest in a nest box but DO NOT harm any eggs or birds. They are smaller than a HOSP. No chestnut (reddish-brown) markings. (Photo Courtesy Terry Sohl of

Many thanks to Bet Zimmerman from for HOSP and Chipping Sparrow photos. And thanks to Terry Sohl of for photos of the chickadee and house finch.


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