The House Sparrow is one of the most iconic urban birds in Britain, sharing our urban areas with us. In fact they have spread out from Europe and Asia to be found on all continents, making them probably the most familiar wild animal in the world – given their close associations with humans which date all the way back to the Stone Age!
The numbers and familiarity of the House Sparrow (whose scientific name is Passer domesticus) has led to it frequently being used to represent the common and vulgar, and their high fertility meant their eggs were once believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac!
Historically, because of their great numbers, sparrows used to have a price on their heads, and during World War II there were anti-sparrow clubs persecuting them to protect our wartime food supply.
Although we are all still used to seeing this social little brown bird hop and shuffle around our gardens, this perky bustling bird is now in fact in serious trouble! Over the past 25 years – or one human generation - there has been a worldwide decline and here in the UK a nationwide collapse in house sparrow population sizes.Brighton and Hove’s Wildlife Forum – working with the Biosphere, RSPB, Sussex Ornithological Society, the University of Brighton and other environmental groups – are developing an exciting new project over the next 3-5 years which, it is hoped, will lead to an increase in house sparrow numbers in our city.