|Spanish sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)|
Two species of sparrow breed in the Maltese islands.
One of them, the Spanish sparrow, is probably the most familiar wild bird even with those who never visit the countryside as they can see this bird in inhabited areas as it is a very tame urban bird and often lands to feed very close to humans without any fear.
Sparrows are small plump birds brown–grey in colour with a short tail and a strong powerful beak. Sparrows are seed eaters though they consume small insects especially during the breeding season. Sparrows belong to a group of birds known as Passer and although many species of birds are known as sparrows only about thirty species belong to the Passer genus.
Two of these species are found in
This species also breeds in the Maltese numbers but is less common than the Spanish sparrow and does not live in towns and villages. The nest is built in holes and crevices in walls in rural buildings but it does not breed in trees as its name suggests. It breeds over most of temperate Eurasia and
The Spanish sparrow is sometimes called the willow sparrow. It is found in parts of the Mediterranean including
It Italy and Corsica it is replaced by the Italian sparrow which could be an intermediated between this species and the house sparrow, which is the species found in town throughout most of Central and Northern Europe.
This article was published in The Times on 4.03.09.