When Sparrows Attack

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‘#3000: sparrows in a row’ courtesy of ‘philliefan99’ 

Given the glorious weather DC has been experiencing, everyone seems to be out enjoying the crisp, cool and (dare I say it) non-humid climate. The city really seems to have bloomed in the last few weeks. And you know what else has gone into overdrive? You guessed it–the mating activities of the House Sparrow.

On my jaunts around the city, I’ve witnessed male sparrows going nuts over female sparrows. This aggressive harassment involves 5-6 male sparrows dancing, chirping, pecking, etc. one poor female sparrow, who IS NOT (judging on her fleeing) into this behavior. In fact, it often looks like she’s the one bearing the brunt of her male suitors competitive rage.  In the spirit of female unity, I often want to jump to her rescue, but have thought better of it and decided instead to investigate these strange, foreign, avian behaviors.It turns out that House Sparrows are programmed to be mating machines.  Their reproduction season lasts from early spring until late August with female sparrows typically laying eggs (5 at a time on average) 5-6 times during this season.  With the shortest incubation period (the time the female spends sitting on the eggs) of all birds, one female sparrow can produce about 25 offspring in one season.  These little guys are like the T-1000 of bird reproduction. 

The aggressive courting also makes sense given that House Sparrows mate for life. So all the single males must vy for the limited number of widowed and upcoming of age females.

Now while their mating habits are not the most gentle and intriguing to watch, in fact they can be quite distrubing, they seem to be working pretty well for the House Sparrow as in cities, like DC,  they can be the most abundant bird.

Rebecca Johnson

A born and bred New Yorker, Rebecca made the big trip “down south” to DC in 2006 and hasn’t looked back. She spends her days strategizing/planning/ideating how interactive products can help her clients and change the world. In her free time, she explores DC’s ever expanding bar, restaurant and small business scene, plays a crap ton of soccer, attends concerts that contribute to her sleep deprivation and embarks on local adventures. Read why Rebecca loves DC or follow her on twitter.

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