When is a Sparrow not a Sparrow?

When it’s a Spanish Sparrow, of course. And like a Spanish bullfighter, he is boldly marked and a bit of a show-off. His crown and neck are a beautiful chestnut colour, with a black and cream coloured back. The easiest way to identify the Spanish Sparrow is the flick of white above each eye, as if he has white eyebrows.

[photo: arkive.org]

[photo: arkive.org]

It is a bird of the farmland, probably why we see so many of them here. We have a variety of flocks which live around the house, with their favourite gathering points: they exhibit and sing around the roof of the pool house, they nest on the air-conditioning units mounted to the outside walls of the house and on the solar water placas on the kitchen roof. In fact in winter they colonise the bare branches of the acacia tree outside the kitchen window, accompanied sometimes by a solitary Blue Tit or Blackcap.

Beside his Spanish cousin, the humble House Sparrow [below] with which we are familiar in the UK looks as if he is wearing old clothes. I didn’t realize that their lifespan is three years, so short.

[photo: Raymond Belhumeur]

[photo: Raymond Belhumeur]

For more information about the Spanish Sparrow, click here for BirdLife or here for Arkive.
To learn more about the House Sparrow, click here for the RSPB website.

5 to remember
un gorrión – a sparrow
el/la torero/a – the bullfighter
un/a fanfarrón/a – a show-off
la coronilla – the crown [of head]
un coletazo – a flick

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