Cape sparrow

The Cape sparrow (Passer melanurus), or mossie, is a bird of the sparrow family Passeridae found in southern Africa. A medium-sized sparrow at 14–16 centimetres (5.5–6.3 in), it has distinctive plumage, including large pale head stripes in both sexes. Its plumage is mostly grey, brown, and chestnut, and the male has some bold black and white markings on its head and neck. The species inhabits semi-arid savannah, cultivated areas, and towns, and ranges from the central coast of Angola to eastern South Africa and Swaziland. Three subspecies are distinguished in different parts of its range.

Cape sparrows primarily eat seeds, and also eat soft plant parts and insects. They typically breed in colonies, and when not breeding they gather in large nomadic flocks to move around in search of food. The nest can be constructed in a tree, a bush, a cavity, or a disused nest of another species. A typical clutch contains three or four eggs, and both parents are involved in breeding, from nest building to feeding young. The Cape sparrow is common in most of its range and coexists successfully in urban habitats with two of its relatives, the native southern grey-headed sparrow and the house sparrow, an introduced species. The Cape sparrow's population has not been recorded decreasing significantly, and it is not seriously threatened by human activities, so it is assessed as a species of least concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Cape sparrow
Cape Sparrow, Passer melanurus at Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, Johannesburg, South Africa (14727921265)
Male in Roodepoort, South Africa
Passer melanurus
Female in Sossusvlei, Namibia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Passeridae
Genus: Passer
P. melanurus
Binomial name
Passer melanurus
Passer melanurus distribution
  • Loxia melanura Statius Müller, 1776
  • Fringilla arctuata Gmelin, 1788


Passer melanurus -South Africa -front -male-8
A male in Western Cape, seen from the front

For a sparrow, the Cape sparrow is strikingly coloured and distinctive, and is medium-sized at 14–16 cm (5.5–6.3 in) long.[3] Adults range in weight from 17 to 38 grams (0.60–1.34 oz).[4] The breeding male has a mostly black head, but with a broad white mark on each side, curling from behind the eye to the throat. On the throat a narrow black band connects the black bib of the breast to black of the head.[5] The underparts are greyish, darker on the flanks. The back of the male's neck is dark grey, and its back and shoulders are bright chestnut. The male has a white and a black wing bar below its shoulders, and flight feathers and tail streaked grey and black.[3]

The female is plumaged like the male, but is duller and has a grey head with a different pattern from the male, though it bears a hint of the pale head markings of the male. The juvenile is like the female, but young males have black markings on the head from an early age.[3][6]

The Cape sparrow's calls are chirps similar to those of the house sparrow, but much more musical and mellow.[3][7] The basic call is used in flight and while perching socially and transcribed as chissip, chirrup, chreep, or chirrichup.[7] A loud, distinctive call used by the male to advertise nest ownership can be written as tweeng or twileeng; this call can be extended into a jerky and repetitive song, chip cheerup, chip cheerup.[4][7]


The Cape sparrow was first described by Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller in 1776, as Loxia melanura.[2] Some other earlier biologists described the Cape sparrow in Loxia or Fringilla, but it has otherwise been regarded as a member of the genus Passer along with the house sparrow and other sparrows of the Old World. Within this genus, morphological comparisons and geography were insufficient to elucidate to which species the Cape sparrow is most closely related.[8] Mitochondrial DNA phylogenies have strongly suggested that the Cape sparrow is among the most basal members of its genus, having diverged from the rest of the genus during the late Miocene, over 5 million years ago. It is genetically closest to the southern grey-headed sparrow and the other grey-headed sparrows of Africa and the saxaul sparrow of Central Asia, so these species may be sibling species of the Cape sparrow or similarly early offshoots.[9][10][11]

The Cape sparrow's specific epithet comes from the Greek μέλας (melas, "black") and ουρά (oura, "tail"),[12] while the name of the genus Passer comes from a Latin word for small birds.[13]

The Cape sparrow has three subspecies. The nominate subspecies Passer melanurus melanurus is found in western South Africa, east to the western part of Free State. The subspecies vicinus, which is sometimes included in subspecies melanurus, occurs from Free State east to Eastern Cape and Lesotho. The subspecies damarensis ranges from the extreme southern coastal areas of Angola into Namibia, Botswana and southern Zimbabwe, as well as northern South Africa.[14]

Distribution and habitat

Passer melanurus -Namibia -drinking-8
Females drinking at a waterhole in Namibia

The Cape sparrow inhabits southern Africa south of Angola and as far east as Swaziland.[1] The northernmost point in its range is Benguela in Angola, and it is found in the coastal and central parts of Namibia, except for the driest parts of the Namib Desert. It occurs in all of South Africa except the farthest east, in southern Botswana and spottily in the Kalahari Basin of central Botswana. In the east, it breeds at a small number of localities in southeastern Zimbabwe.[15] It has been recorded as a vagrant in Harare, in central Zimbabwe.[3] The eastern limit of its range is reached in the wet forests of Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal, extending into the hills of western Swaziland.[15]

The original habitats of this species were the semi-arid savanna, thornveld, and light woodland typical of southern Africa. When settled agriculture arrived in its range about a thousand years ago, it adapted to cultivated land, and since the arrival of settlement, it has moved into towns.[16] The Cape sparrow prefers habitats with an annual rainfall of less than 75 centimetres (30 in), though in desert areas it is usually found near watercourses or watering holes. While it occurs in urban centres, it prefers parks, gardens, and other open spaces, and has a low reproductive success in more built-up areas.[16]

In towns, the Cape sparrow competes with both the native southern grey-headed sparrow and house sparrow, which was introduced to southern Africa in the 19th century.[17] Since it is more established around humans in its range than either, it successfully competes with both species, though they may exclude it from nesting in holes.[15][16] A survey by birdwatchers completed in 2000 found the Cape sparrow increasing in abundance in some suburban areas of South Africa (the northern Johannesburg area, and Pietermaritzburg) and decreasing in others (the southern Cape Town area). The house sparrow was reported decreasing in several urban areas, as it has in parts of Europe, declines which are attributed to factors including the increasing density of garden plantings and increases in predation.[18]


Social behaviour

Birds at a bottle bird feeder in Johannesburg, South Africa
Cape sparrows and a southern masked weaver at a bird feeder in Johannesburg during the winter

The Cape sparrow is social, lives in flocks, and usually breeds in colonies. Away from settled areas it spends much of the year wandering nomadically, in flocks of up to 200 birds. In cultivated and built up areas, smaller flocks form where food is provided for livestock or birds. In such places, it associates with other seed-eating birds, such as the house sparrow, the Cape weaver, and weavers of the genus Euplectes. Birds from urban areas form large flocks seasonally and fly out to the nearby countryside to feed on ripening grain, returning at night to roost.[16][19]

Cape sparrows prefer to roost in nests, and while wandering outside of the breeding season, birds in uncultivated areas roost socially in old nests or dense bushes. In farmland and towns, Cape sparrows build special nests for roosting, lined more poorly than breeding nests but incorporating a greater quantity of insulating material.[16][19][20]

An unusual social behaviour has been described from Cape sparrows in Johannesburg. Groups of 20–30 birds separate from larger flocks and stand close together on the ground with tails on the ground and heads held high. These groups sometimes move in an unconcerted fashion by hopping slowly. Often birds will fly up and hover 30–60 centimetres (12–24 in) above the ground. During these gatherings birds are silent and are never antagonistic. This behaviour's significance is unknown, and it is not reported in any other sparrow species.[16]


Male Cape sparrow carrying food to feed young

The Cape sparrow mostly eats seeds, foraging in trees and on the ground.[19] The larger seeds of cereals, wild grasses, and other small plants are preferred, with wheat and khakiweed (Alternanthera caracasana) being favourites. Buds and soft fruits are also taken, causing considerable damage to agriculture. Insects are eaten, and nestlings seem to be fed exclusively on caterpillars. The Cape sparrow eats the soft shoots of plants, and probes in aloes for nectar, but these are not important sources of food.[21]


Courtship and colonies

Cape Sparrow, Passer melanurus at Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, Johannesburg, South Africa (14541466587)
A pair in Johannesburg

The Cape sparrow usually breeds in loose colonies of 50–100 birds. 10 to 20 percent of the breeding birds in each population nest away from colonies, for unknown reasons.[22] The Cape sparrow is usually monogamous, but some records of a male and two females nesting and raising young in one nest have been made in Western Cape.[23] It seems pairs are formed in the non-breeding flocks, but it is not known how pairs are formed, or if the pair bond is for life. Once ready to breed, newly mated pairs look for a suitable nesting site, spending mornings searching, and returning to their flock in the afternoon. Once a site has been selected, both birds begin to build their nest. Other pairs seeking a nest site join them, and in this manner a colony forms quickly.[22]

The courtship display is poorly recorded. Ornithologist J. Denis Summers-Smith observed a display in which the male hopped beside the female in a tree, drooping its wings and ruffling the chestnut-coloured feathers on its back. Groups of two or more males have been observed chasing a female. In the house sparrow a similar display exists, in which a female who is not ready to copulate is chased by her mate, who is joined by other males. It is not known if the display in the Cape sparrow has a similar significance. When ready to mate, the female crouches in solicitation and is mounted by the male.[24] Instances of hybridisation with the house sparrow,[4] the southern grey-headed sparrow, and captives or escapees of the Sudan golden sparrow have been reported.[25]


The Cape sparrow utilises a variety of nesting sites. Bushes and trees, especially acacias, seem to be preferred,[22] and many nests may be built in a single tree.[26] Holes and other covered sites are chosen less frequently. Nests have been recorded from the eaves of buildings, on creepers on walls, in holes in earth banks, and in holes in haystacks. Sometimes the Cape sparrow nests in the disused nests of other birds, such as weavers and swallows. Pairs that nest away from colonies usually choose low bushes or utility poles as nesting sites.[22] Nests are placed at least a metre above the ground, and can be only a few centimetres apart in colonies. Only the nest and its very close vicinity are defended as a territory. Males defend their territory with threatening postures, and sometimes by fighting with bills on the ground.[22]

Nests built in the open are large and untidy domed structures, built of dry grass, twigs, and other plant materials. Any leaves or thorns present in a tree may be worked into the nest. In cavity nests, the hole is filled with a shapeless mass of grass with a cup of soft material containing the eggs on the inside. When the disused domed nests of weavers are used, they are given a soft lining. The nest entrance is on the side, and is sometimes extended into a short funnel. The male and the female construct the nest together, keeping close when finding material and weaving it together.[22] The inside linings of Cape sparrow nests can incorporate large portions of aromatic leaves such as wolbossie (Helichrysum pumilio), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), and camphor (Cinnamomum). This consistent use of aromatics suggests that they have some purpose such as protection against parasites.[27]

Eggs and young

Passer melanurus chick and male
A male feeding a fledgeling

Clutches contain between two and six eggs, typically three or four. Variation in clutch size depends on the amount of food available for young birds. Presumably owing to the greater availability of food, clutches are larger during the peak of the breeding season, and in more southern latitudes of the Cape sparrow's range.[24] Both birds of a pair incubate the eggs during the day, switching every ten or fifteen minutes. At night, only the female incubates the eggs, while the male roosts outside or in the nest. In pairs breeding outside of colonies, birds leave the nest to make room for their mates upon hearing their mates approaching. Among colonial pairs, the incubating bird waits until its partner arrives in the nest, to prevent other birds from entering the nest. Incubation seems to begin before the clutch is complete, and lasts 12–24 days.[24]

The young of a clutch hatch over two or three days and are brooded until their feathers develop and eyes open five days after hatching. The young are fed on insects until they fledge 16 to 25, typically 17, days after hatching. After this they are fed for one or two weeks. While feeding nestlings, the female is dominant over the male.[24] Cape sparrows are among the main hosts of brood parasitism by the dideric cuckoo in southern Africa,[15] and sometimes parasitise nests of their own species.[28]

Relationships with humans

The Cape sparrow is an abundant and familiar bird of human habitations and cultivation in most of southern Africa.[4] It is not believed to be threatened, and accordingly is listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN's Red List.[1] It can be an agricultural pest, especially of grain cultivation and vineyards.[16]

When vineyards in the south-west Cape started letting weeds grow between vines to conserve moisture, around 1956, the Cape sparrow moved in. Cape sparrows quickly exhausted the seeds and started eating the grapes. The Cape sparrow is now a serious pest in vineyards. Vineyards are not an optimal habitat, and some populations have had such a low reproductive success that they could not be maintained without immigration.[4][16]

The Cape sparrow was featured on the lowest-denomination South African coin, from the farthing (¼-cent) in 1923 to the cent that ceased to be minted in 2002, with designs based on an original by George Kruger Gray. This was said to be because women interned at a concentration camp in Bethulie during the Boer War adopted a biblical quotation (from Matthew 10) as their motto: "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father."[29] It has also been featured on stamps from Lesotho and the Central African Republic.[30]


  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2016). "Passer melanurus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22718225A94572569. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22718225A94572569.en. Retrieved 29 December 2017.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b Summers-Smith 1988, p. 67
  3. ^ a b c d e Clement, Harris & Davis 1993, pp. 456–457
  4. ^ a b c d e Summers-Smith, J. Denis (2009). "Family Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)". In del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Christie, David (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-84-96553-50-7.
  5. ^ Summers-Smith 1988, p. 68
  6. ^ Stark 1900, pp. 159–162
  7. ^ a b c Summers-Smith 1988, pp. 76–77
  8. ^ Summers-Smith 1988, p. 305
  9. ^ Allende, Luis M.; Rubio, Isabel; Ruíz-del-Valle, Valentin; Guillén, Jesus; Martínez-Laso, Jorge; Lowy, Ernesto; Varela, Pilar; Zamora, Jorge; Arnaiz-Villena, Antonio (2001). "The Old World sparrows (genus Passer) phylogeography and their relative abundance of nuclear mtDNA pseudogenes" (PDF). Journal of Molecular Evolution. 53 (2): 144–154. PMID 11479685. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 July 2011.
  10. ^ Arnaiz-Villena, A.; Gómez-Prieto, P.; Ruiz-de-Valle, V. (2009). "Phylogeography of finches and sparrows". Animal Genetics. Nova Science Publishers. ISBN 978-1-60741-844-3. Archived from the original on 2012-09-02. Retrieved 2014-12-03.
  11. ^ González, Javier; Siow, Melanie; Garcia-del-Rey, Eduardo; Delgado, Guillermo; Wink, Michael (2008). Phylogenetic relationships of the Cape Verde Sparrow based on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA (PDF). Systematics 2008, Göttingen. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2011.
  12. ^ Gotch 1996, pp. 442–443
  13. ^ Summers-Smith 1988, p. 13
  14. ^ Summers-Smith 2009, p. 800
  15. ^ a b c d Dean, W. R. J. (1997). "Cape Sparrow". In Harrison, J. A.; Allan, D. G.; Underhill, L. G.; Herremans, M.; Tree, A. J.; Parker, V.; Brown, C. J. (eds.). The Atlas of Southern African Birds (PDF). 1. BirdLife South Africa. pp. 540–541.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h Summers-Smith 1988, pp. 70–71
  17. ^ Summers-Smith, J. D. (1990). "Changes in distribution and habitat utilisation by members of the genus Passer". In Pinowski, J.; Summers-Smith, J. D. (eds.). Granivorous birds in the agricultural landscape. Warszawa: Pánstwowe Wydawnictom Naukowe. pp. 11–29. ISBN 978-83-01-08460-8.
  18. ^ Harrison, J. A. (2000). "Changing suburban birds – terrestrial species". Bird Numbers. 9 (2). Archived from the original on 17 June 2011.
  19. ^ a b c Dean, W. R. J. (2005). "Cape Sparrow Passer melanurus". In Hockey, P. A. R.; Dean, W. R. J.; Ryan, P. G (eds.). Roberts Birds of Southern Africa (7th ed.). Cape Town: The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. pp. 1084–1086. ISBN 978-0-620-34053-3.
  20. ^ Friedmann 1950, p. 306
  21. ^ Summers-Smith 1988, p. 77
  22. ^ a b c d e f Summers-Smith 1988, pp. 71–72
  23. ^ Oschadleus, H. Dieter; Brooks, Michael (2008). "Bigamy in Cape Sparrows" (PDF). Bird Numbers. 14: 18–19. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 February 2011.
  24. ^ a b c d Summers-Smith 1988, pp. 73–75
  25. ^ McCarthy 2006, pp. 268–267
  26. ^ Dean, W. R. J. (1989). "Cape Sparrow". In Ginn, P. J.; McIlleron, W. G.; Milstein, P. le S (eds.). The Complete Book of Southern African Birds. Cape Town: Struik Winchester. p. 652. ISBN 978-0-947430-11-5.
  27. ^ Milton, Sue; Dean, Richard (1999). "Nesting Thyme: The use of aromatic plants in Cape Sparrow nests" (PDF). Africa - Birds & Birding. 4 (1): 37–39. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 February 2011.
  28. ^ MacWhirter, R. Bruce (1989). "On the Rarity of Intraspecific Brood Parasitism" (PDF). The Condor. 91 (2): 485–492. doi:10.2307/1368333. JSTOR 1368333.
  29. ^ "One Cent (1c)". The South African Mint Company. 2008. Archived from the original on 20 September 2011.
  30. ^ Scharning, Kjell. "Cape Sparrow stamps". Theme Birds on Stamps. Retrieved 25 May 2010.

Works cited

  • Clement, Peter; Harris, Alan; Davis, John (1993). Finches and Sparrows: An Identification Guide. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-03424-9.
  • Friedmann, Herbert (1950). "The Breeding Habits of the Weaverbirds: A Study in the Biology of Behavior Patterns". Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, Showing the Operations, Expenditures, and the Condition of the Institution for the Year Ended June 30, 1949. 1949: 293–316. OCLC 858459165.
  • Gotch, A. F. (1996). Latin Names Explained: A Guide to the Scientific Classification of Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals. New York: Facts On File. ISBN 978-0-8160-3377-5.
  • McCarthy, Eugene M. (2006). Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-518323-8.
  • Stark, Arthur C. (1900). The Birds of South Africa. I. London: R. H. Porter. OCLC 2499482.
  • Summers-Smith, J. Denis (2009). "Family Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)". In del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Christie, David (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-84-96553-50-7.
  • Summers-Smith, J. Denis (1988). The Sparrows: A Study of the Genus Passer. illustrated by Robert Gillmor. Calton, Staffs, England: T. & A. D. Poyser. ISBN 978-0-85661-048-6.

External links

Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is a national park in northwestern Namibia. The park was proclaimed a game reserve on March 22, 1907 in Ordinance 88 by the Governor of German South West Africa, Dr. Friedrich von Lindequist. It was designated as Wildschutzgebiet Nr. 2 which means Game Reserve Number 2, in numerical order after West Caprivi (Game Reserve No. 1) and preceding Namib Game Reserve (No. 3). In 1958, Game Reserve No. 2 became Etosha Game Park and was elevated to status of National Park in 1967 by an act of parliament of the Republic of South Africa which administered South-West Africa during that time.Etosha National Park spans an area of 22,270 square kilometres (8,600 sq mi) and gets its name from the large Etosha pan which is almost entirely within the park. The Etosha pan (4,760 square kilometres (1,840 sq mi)) covers 23% of the area of the total area of the Etosha National Park. The park is home to hundreds of species of mammals, birds and reptiles, including several threatened and endangered species such as the black rhinoceros.

The park is located in the Kunene region and shares boundaries with the regions of Oshana, Oshikoto and Otjozondjupa.

Faerie Glen Nature Reserve

Faerie Glen Nature Reserve is a nature reserve at the western limit of the Bronberg in the east of Pretoria, South Africa. It formerly formed a part of the farm Hartbeespoort 304 which belonged to H. W. Struben. On old aerial photographs it is apparent that the flood plain was utilized for crop fields, while the remainder was used for cattle grazing. The reserve constitutes the western part of the Bronberg conservation area, which was declared in 1980. Its highest point is Renosterkop (1,468 m) in the northern part of the reserve.

Groenkloof Nature Reserve

The Groenkloof Nature Reserve, located adjacent to the Fountains Valley at the southern entrance to Pretoria, was the first game sanctuary in Africa. The reserve of 600 ha is managed by the Department of Nature Conservation. The National Heritage Monument is located within the reserve. It is flanked by Christina de Wit Avenue and Nelson Mandela Drive, that separate it from the Voortrekker Monument and Klapperkop Nature Reserves. In aggregate these reserves conserve some 1,400 ha of bankenveld vegetation which is threatened in Gauteng. The reserve is open to day visitors from 5:30 to 19:00 in summer, and 7:00 to 18:00 in winter.

Helichrysum pumilio

Helichrysum pumilio is a species of flowering plant in the Asteraceae family, known colloquially as the wolbossie. It is found in southern Africa. An aromatic, it is used by birds such as the Cape sparrow in their nests, possibly as protection against parasites.

House sparrow

The house sparrow (Passer domesticus) is a bird of the sparrow family Passeridae, found in most parts of the world. It is a small bird which has a typical length of 16 cm (6.3 in) and a mass of 24–39.5 g (0.85–1.39 oz). Females and young birds are coloured pale brown and grey, and males have brighter black, white, and brown markings. One of about 25 species in the genus Passer, the house sparrow is native to most of Europe, the Mediterranean Basin, and much of Asia. Its intentional or accidental introductions to many regions, including parts of Australasia, Africa, and the Americas, make it the most widely distributed wild bird.

The house sparrow is strongly associated with human habitation, and can live in urban or rural settings. Though found in widely varied habitats and climates, it typically avoids extensive woodlands, grasslands, and deserts away from human development. It feeds mostly on the seeds of grains and weeds, but it is an opportunistic eater and commonly eats insects and many other foods. Its predators include domestic cats, hawks, owls, and many other predatory birds and mammals.

Because of its numbers, ubiquity, and association with human settlements, the house sparrow is culturally prominent. It is extensively, and usually unsuccessfully, persecuted as an agricultural pest. It has also often been kept as a pet, as well as being a food item and a symbol of lust, sexual potency, commonness, and vulgarity. Though it is widespread and abundant, its numbers have declined in some areas. The animal's conservation status is listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List.

List of birds of Eswatini

This is a list of the bird species recorded in Eswatini. The avifauna of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) include a total of 507 species, of which four have been introduced by humans and 52 are rare or accidental. Three species listed are extirpated in Eswatini and are not included in the species count. Eleven species are globally threatened.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 6th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account. Introduced and accidental species are included in the total counts for Eswatini.

The following tags have been used to highlight several categories. The commonly occurring native species do not fall into any of these categories.

(A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in Eswatini

(I) Introduced - a species introduced to Eswatini as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions

(Ex) Extirpated - a species that no longer occurs in Eswatini although populations exist elsewhere

List of birds of Gauteng

An alphabetic list of common names of birds occurring in Gauteng, South Africa. Gauteng includes both the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria, and numerous satellite municipalities spreading over a total of some 18 000 square km and an enormous diversity of habitat, and ranging in elevation from 1300 to 1900 metres. Gauteng lies at the junction of three major biomes – grassland to the south, arid savanna to the north-west, and moist savanna to the north-east and east – this location largely accounts for its great diversity of species.

The growing occupation of the area by man since the discovery of gold in the late 1800s has led to inevitable habitat loss and degradation, with the consequent displacement and decline of many species. The establishing of parks and suburban gardens, on the other hand, has created a multitude of niches and this, together with progressively milder highveld winters, has attracted a wealth of bushveld species from north of the Magaliesberg, and from other warmer areas. Tall office blocks and high-rise apartments have provided nesting opportunities for cliff-dwellers, while the collective, man-made forest is regarded as the world's largest. Some arrivals in Johannesburg gardens within recent times have been the hadeda ibis, green wood hoopoe, Cape starling, red-winged starling, grey go-away-bird, African grey hornbill, pin-tailed whydah, African green pigeon and southern boubou. Southern Africa's bird list numbers more than 900, with some 350 being found in Gauteng. Of the Southern Africa birds, 134 are endemic or near-endemic, while the centre of endemism is in the far west in the Karoo and Namib Desert. More species breed in Southern Africa than in Canada and the continental United States combined.

List of birds of Lesotho

This is a list of the bird species recorded in Lesotho. The avifauna of Lesotho include a total of 358 species, of which 60 are rare or accidental and four have been introduced by humans. One species has been extirpated. Unless otherwise noted, the list is that of iGoTerra.This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) are those of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 2018 edition.The following tags have been used to highlight several categories of occurrence

(A) Accidental - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in Lesotho

(I) Introduced - a species introduced to Lesotho as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions

(Ex) Extirpated - a species that no longer occurs in Lesotho although populations exist elsewhere

List of birds of Namibia

This is a list of the bird species recorded in Namibia. The avifauna of Namibia include a total of 676 confirmed species, of which one is endemic, 15 are near endemic, four have been introduced by humans, and 56 are vagrants. An additional 35 species are unconfirmed and are not included in the total above.

This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World, 2018 edition. Unless otherwise noted, the list is that of the Namibia Bird Records Committee (NBRC). Differences in common and scientific names between the Clements taxonomy and that of the NBRC are frequent but are seldom noted here.

The following tags have been used to highlight several categories of occurrence.

(V) Vagrant - a species that rarely or accidentally occurs in Namibia

(E) Endemic - a species endemic to Namibia

(NE) Near endemic - a species with "90% or more of its population in Namibia" per the NBRC

(I) Introduced - a species introduced to Namibia as a consequence, direct or indirect, of human actions, and which has a self-sustaining population

(U) Unconfirmed - a "species reported to occur in Namibia but for which there is as yet no unequivocal evidence" per the NBRC

List of endemic birds of southern Africa

The following is a list of bird species endemic or near-endemic to southern Africa (South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and southern Mozambique).

Grey-winged francolin, Scleroptila africanus

Orange River francolin, Scleroptila levaillantoides

Red-billed spurfowl (red-billed francolin), Pternistes adspersus

Cape spurfowl (Cape francolin), Pternistes capensis

Natal spurfowl (Natal francolin), Pternistes natalensis

South African shelduck, Tadorna cana

Cape shoveler, Anas smithii

Hottentot buttonquail, Turnix hottentotta

Knysna woodpecker, Campethera notata

Ground woodpecker, Geocolaptes olivaceus

Acacia pied barbet, Tricholaema leucomelas

Monteiro's hornbill (Damara hornbill), Tockus monteiri

Southern yellow-billed hornbill, Tockus leucomelas

Bradfield's hornbill, Tockus bradfieldi

White-backed mousebird, Colius colius

Cape parrot, Poicephalus robustus

Ruppell's parrot, Poicephalus rueppellii

Rosy-faced lovebird, Agapornis roseicollis

Bradfield's swift, Apus bradfieldi

Knysna turaco, Tauraco corythaix

Ludwig's bustard, Neotis ludwigii

Red-crested korhaan, Eupodotis ruficrista

Southern black korhaan (black bustard), Afrotis afra (Eupodotis afra)

Northern black korhaan (white-quilled bustard), Afrotis afraoides (Eupodotis afraoides)

Ruppell's korhaan, Eupodotis rueppellii

Karoo korhaan, Eupodotis vigorsii

Blue korhaan, Eupodotis caerulescens

Blue crane, Anthropoides paradiseus

Namaqua sandgrouse, Pterocles namaqua

Double-banded sandgrouse, Pterocles bicinctus

Burchell's sandgrouse, Pterocles burchelli

Burchell's courser, Cursorius rufus

Hartlaub's gull, Larus hartlaubii

Cape vulture, Gyps coprotheres

Black harrier, Circus maurus

Southern pale chanting goshawk, Melierax canorus

Forest buzzard, Buteo trizonatus

Jackal buzzard, Buteo rufofuscus

Crowned cormorant, Phalacrocorax coronatus

Bank cormorant, Phalacrocorax neglectus

Southern bald ibis, Geronticus calvus

African penguin, Spheniscus demersus

Southern tchagra, Tchagra tchagra

Southern boubou, Laniarius ferrugineus

Crimson-breasted shrike, Laniarius atrococcineus

Bokmakierie, Telophorus zeylonus

Olive bushshrike, Telophorus olivaceus

White-tailed shrike, Lanioturdus torquatus

Cape batis, Batis capensis

Pririt batis, Batis pririt

Southern white-crowned shrike, Eurocephalus anguitimens

Cape rockjumper, Chaetops frenatus

Drakensberg rockjumper, Chaetops aurantius

Cape penduline tit, Anthoscopus minutus

Carp's tit, Parus carpi

Ashy tit, Parus cinerascens

Grey tit, Parus afer

African red-eyed bulbul, Pycnonotus nigricans

Cape bulbul, Pycnonotus capensis

Fairy flycatcher, Stenostira scita

Rockrunner, Achaetops pycnopygius

Cape grassbird, Sphenoeacus afer

Victorin's warbler, Bradypterus victorini

Karoo eremomela, Eremomela gregalis

Knysna warbler, Bradypterus sylvaticus

Barratt's warbler, Bradypterus barratti

Black-faced babbler, Turdoides melanops

Southern pied babbler, Turdoides bicolor

Bush blackcap, Lioptilus nigricapillus

Layard's tit-babbler, Parisoma layardi

Chestnut-vented tit-babbler, Parisoma subcaeruleum

Cape white-eye, Zosterops virens

Orange River white-eye, Zosterops pallidus

Grey-backed cisticola, Cisticola subruficapillus

Rufous-winged cisticola, Cisticola galactotes

Cloud cisticola, Cisticola textrix

Black-chested prinia, Prinia flavicans

Karoo prinia, Prinia maculosa

Drakensberg prinia, Prinia hypoxantha

Namaqua warbler, Phragmacia substriata

Robert's warbler, Oreophilais robertsi

Rufous-eared warbler, Malcorus pectoralis

Rudd's apalis, Apalis ruddi

Chirinda apalis, Apalis chirindensis

Barred wren-warbler, Calamonastes fasciolatus

Cinnamon-breasted warbler, Euryptila subcinnamomea

Monotonous lark, Mirafra passerina

Melodious lark, Mirafra cheniana

Cape clapper lark, Mirafra apiata

Eastern clapper lark, Mirafra fasciolata

Sabota lark (incl. Bradfield's), Mirafra sabota

Fawn-coloured lark, Calendulauda africanoides

Rudd's lark, Heteromirafra ruddi

Red lark, Certhilauda burra

Karoo lark, Certhilauda albescens

Barlow's lark, Certhilauda barlowi

Dune lark, Certhilauda erythrochlamys

Cape long-billed lark, Certhilauda curvirostris

Agulhas long-billed lark, Certhilauda brevirostris

Eastern long-billed lark, Certhilauda semitorquata

Karoo long-billed lark, Certhilauda subcoronata

Short-clawed lark, Certhilauda chuana

Gray's lark, Ammomanes grayi

Spike-heeled lark, Chersomanes albofasciata

Black-eared sparrow-lark, Eremopterix australis

Grey-backed sparrow-lark, Eremopterix verticalis

Stark's lark, Eremalauda starki

Pink-billed lark, Spizocorys conirostris

Botha's lark, Spizocorys fringillaris

Sclater's lark, Spizocorys sclateri

Large-billed lark, Galerida magnirostris

Cape rock thrush, Monticola rupestris

Sentinel rock thrush, Monticola explorator

Short-toed rock thrush Monticola brevipes

Karoo thrush Turdus smithi

Chat flycatcher, Bradornis infuscatus

Marico flycatcher, Bradornis mariquensis

Fiscal flycatcher, Sigelus silens

White-throated robin-chat, Cossypha humeralis

Chorister robin-chat, Cossypha dichroa

Brown scrub robin, Cercotrichas signata

Kalahari scrub robin, Cercotrichas paena

Karoo scrub robin, Cercotrichas coryphaeus

Herero chat, Namibornis herero

Buff-streaked chat, Oenanthe bifasciata

Mountain wheatear, Oenanthe monticola

Sickle-winged chat, Cercomela sinuata

Karoo chat, Cercomela schlegelii

Tractrac chat, Cercomela tractrac

Anteating chat, Myrmecocichla formicivora

Boulder chat, Pinarornis plumosus

Pale-winged starling, Onychognathus nabouroup

Burchell's starling, Lamprotornis australis

Pied starling, Spreo bicolor

Gurney's sugarbird, Promerops gurneyi

Cape sugarbird, Promerops cafer

Orange-breasted sunbird, Anthobaphes violacea

Southern double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris chalybea

Greater double-collared sunbird, Cinnyris afra

Neergaard's sunbird, Cinnyris neergaardi

Dusky sunbird, Cinnyris fusca

Great sparrow, Passer motitensis

Cape sparrow, Passer melanurus

Cape longclaw, Macronyx capensis

Yellow-breasted pipit, Anthus chloris

African rock pipit, Anthus crenatus

Scaly-feathered finch, Sporopipes squamifrons

Sociable weaver, Philetairus socius

Cape weaver, Ploceus capensis

Pink-throated twinspot, Hypargos margaritatus

Swee waxbill, Estrilda melanotis

Red-headed finch, Amadina erythrocephala

Shaft-tailed whydah, Vidua regia

Forest canary, Crithagra scotops

Lemon-breasted canary, Crithagra citrinipectus

Yellow canary, Crithagra flaviventris

White-throated canary, Crithagra albogularis

Protea canary, Crithagra leucoptera

Cape siskin, Crithagra totta

Drakensberg siskin, Crithagra symonsi

Cape canary, Serinus canicollis

Black-headed canary, Serinus alario

Lark-like bunting, Emberiza impetuani

Cape bunting, Emberiza capensis

Milnerton Racecourse Nature Reserve

The Milnerton Racecourse Nature Reserve is a lowland conservation area located in the City of Cape Town, South Africa.

It forms part of the greater Table Bay Nature Reserve, proclaimed in June 2012.


Mossie may refer to:

Nickname of the De Havilland Mosquito, a Royal Air Force Second World War aircraft

Cape sparrow, a bird

The Mossie, a rap group

Mossie Dowling (born 1946), Irish former hurler

Maurice Enright (died 1920), Irish-American gangster

Maurice Mossie Finn (1931-2009), Irish hurler

Mossie Lyons, Irish Gaelic football half-back

Mossie Smith, British actress

Mossie Walsh (fl. 1980), Irish former hurler


Passer is a genus of sparrows, also known as the true sparrows. The genus includes the house sparrow and the Eurasian tree sparrow, some of the most common birds in the world. They are small birds with thick bills for eating seeds, and are mostly coloured grey or brown. Native to the Old World, some species have been introduced throughout the world.

Passer predomesticus

Passer predomesticus is a fossil passerine bird in the sparrow family Passeridae. First described in 1962, it is known from two premaxillary (upper jaw) bones found in a Middle Pleistocene layer of the Oumm-Qatafa cave in Palestine. The premaxillaries resemble those of the house and Spanish sparrows, but differ in having a deep groove instead of a crest on the lower side. Israeli palaeontologist Eitan Tchernov, who described the species, and others have considered it to be close to the ancestor of the house and Spanish sparrows, but molecular data point to an earlier origin of modern sparrow species. Occurring in a climate Tchernov described as similar to but rainier than that in Palestine today, it was considered by Tchernov as a "wild" ancestor of the modern sparrows which have a commensal association with humans, although its presence in Oumm-Qatafa cave may indicate that it was associated with humans.

Sexual dimorphism

Sexual dimorphism is the condition where the two sexes of the same species exhibit different characteristics beyond the differences in their sexual organs. The condition occurs in many animals and some plants. Differences may include secondary sex characteristics, size, weight, color, markings, and may also include behavioral and cognitive differences. These differences may be subtle or exaggerated, and may be subjected to sexual selection. The opposite of dimorphism is monomorphism.

Sibley-Monroe checklist 17

The Sibley-Monroe checklist was a landmark document in the study of birds. It drew on extensive DNA-DNA hybridisation studies to reassess the relationships between modern birds.


Sparrows are a family of small passerine birds. They are also known as true sparrows, or Old World sparrows, names also used for a particular genus of the family, Passer. They are distinct from both the American sparrows, in the family Passerellidae, and from a few other birds sharing their name, such as the Java sparrow of the family Estrildidae. Many species nest on buildings and the house and Eurasian tree sparrows, in particular, inhabit cities in large numbers, so sparrows are among the most familiar of all wild birds. They are primarily seed-eaters, though they also consume small insects. Some species scavenge for food around cities and, like gulls or rock doves will happily eat virtually anything in small quantities.

Tankwa Karoo National Park

Tankwa Karoo National Park is a national park in South Africa. The park lies about 70 km due west of Sutherland near the border of the Northern Cape and Western Cape, in one of the most arid regions of South Africa, with areas receiving less than 100 mm of average annual precipitation, moisture-bearing clouds from the Atlantic Ocean being largely stopped by the Cederberg mountains. Other low areas receive little more, as the Roodewerf station (co-ordinates: S32°14’27.9” E20°05’44.5”) with 180 mm of mean annual rainfall. In the hottest areas of the park, the mean maximum temperature in January is 38.9 °C, and in July the mean minimum temperature ranges from about 5 to 7 °C. Before this Park's proclamation, the only protected area of Succulent Karoo was the 2 square kilometre patch of the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve. Succulent Karoo has, together with the Cape Floral Kingdom, been declared a Biodiversity Hotspot by Conservation International.

Tankwa's area has been increased from an initial 260 to 1436 km2. It is bounded on the east by the Roggeveld Mountains, on the west by the Cederberg, to the north by the Kouebokkeveld Mountains and on the south by the scattered foothills of the Koedoesberge and Klein Roggeveld Mountains, and the Tankwa River. The park's headquarters are located at Roodewerf (GPS co-ordinates: S 32° 14’ 27.9” E 20° 5’ 44.5”). Distances from the nearest towns to the park's headquarters are: Ceres (180 km), Sutherland (120 km), Calvinia (110 km) and Middelpos (52 km).In 1998 Conrad Strauss sold 280 km2 of sheep farm to the South African National Parks. The park has started the reintroduction of game that used to be found naturally in the area. Research was done beforehand to ensure that introduced animals would survive on the overgrazed veld. The vegetation in the park falls within the Succulent Karoo biome and has been described as very sparse shrubland and dwarf shrubland. Several unique succulent genera occur here, such as Tanquana, Braunsia and Didymaotus. The park is home to a large variety of birds (188 species – 2015 figure), such as the black-headed canary, Ludwig's bustard, and the black-eared sparrow-lark. Peak birding season is August to October.

Ts'ehlanyane National Park

Ts'ehlanyane National Park is a National Park in Lesotho. It is located in the Maloti Mountains in Butha-Buthe District, and is part of the larger Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation Area. This Lesotho northern park protects a high-altitude, 2,600-metre (8,500 ft) patch of rugged wilderness, including one of Lesotho’s only stands of indigenous forest with a number of rare undergrowth plants that are unique to this woodland habitat.

The name "Ts'ehlanyane" is the local common name for the berg bamboo (Thamnocalamus tessellatus), from which the river and park take their name. It is fitting that the park should bear the name of this Drakensberg endemic plant, as it may be the most important refuge for this plant in the entire Maloti-Drakensberg mountain range.

Sparrows (family: Passeridae)

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