Tree sparrow

Tree sparrow

©Amy Lewis

Tree sparrow

Scientific name: Passer montanus
A scarce and declining bird, the tree sparrow can be spotted on farmland and in woodlands; it is not an urban bird in the UK. It has a brown cap and black cheek-spots, unlike the similar house sparrow.

Species information


Length: 14cm
Wingspan: 21cm
Weight: 24g
Average lifespan: 2 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

January to December


The tree sparrow is a scarce bird of farmland, hedgerows and woodland edges, and is not associated with man in the way that the House Sparrow is in the UK. Tree sparrows mate for life; they nest in holes in trees and can produce two or three broods a year, each containing up to seven eggs. They eat seeds, weeds, cereals and also insects.

How to identify

Male and female tree sparrows look the same, with chestnut-brown crowns, chestnut backs, buff undersides, white cheeks and black cheek-spots. Male House Sparrows, however, have grey caps and plain grey cheeks without spots.


Widespread in England, southern Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland.

Did you know?

In parts of Asia, tree sparrows are widespread in towns and cities, rather than being birds of rural countryside.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work closely with farmers and landowners to ensure that our wildlife is protected and to promote wildlife-friendly practices. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.