Tag Archives: Cape Sparrow

Cape Sparrow

Passer melanurus

The Cape Sparrow is widespread and common in South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana and Namibia, extending marginally into Zimbabwe and Angola. The Cape Sparrow’s preferred natural habitat is grasslands and semi-arid thornveld and scrubland, particularly in or near wooded areas along drainage lines. They often live in close association with human settlements, and as such is one of the most commonly seen species in suburban parks and gardens as well as on farms and vineyards, where they can become pests. It is believed that this trait has aided both in the expansion of their distribution range and an increase in the populations size.  The IUCN considers it to be of least concern. Cape Sparrows feed predominantly on seeds, augmenting their diet with insects, fruit, flowers and nectar.

Adult Cape Sparrows measure about 15cm long, and weigh between 22 and 36g.

Cape Sparrows are usually seen in pairs or small family groups, but they do at times assemble in large, nomadic flocks of up to 200 outside of the peak breeding season, which stretches through summer (though breeding has been recorded throughout the year). They often associate with other seed-eating bird species while foraging. Monogamous pairs nest alone or in colonies of up to 100 pairs, and can raise several broods in a season. Their nests are untidy collections of grass, stems and other pliable plant parts and litter, hollowed out on the inside with a single side entrance and lined with soft feathers and material, built by both sexes in trees, bushes, inside disused swallow or weaver nests, or under the roofs of buildings. Clutches consist of between 2 and 6 eggs, incubated by both parents for 2 weeks. The chicks leave the nest when they’re around two weeks old, having been fed on insects (mostly caterpillars) by both parents up to that point and become fully independent at between 1 and 2 months of age.

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