Passer motitensis (Great sparrow)
Grootmossie [Afrikaans]; Enzunge (applied to some of the
bishops, widows and sparrows) [Kwangali]; Lemphorokgohlo la Kapa [North Sotho];
Tswere (generic term for sparrows, petronias and canaries [Tswana]; Roestmus
[Dutch]; Grand moineau [French]; Rotbrauner Sperling, Rostsperling,
Riesensperling [German]; Pardal-grande [Portuguese]
> Eukaryotes >
> Metazoa (animals) >
Deuterostomia > Chordata >
Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates) > Gnathostomata (jawed
vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class:
fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial
vertebrates) > Tetrapoda
(four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota >
Reptilia (reptiles) >
Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria >
(dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) >
Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves
Order: Passeriformes > Family: Passeridae
Great sparrow male, Etosha National Park, Namibia. [photo
Trevor Hardaker ©]
Distribution and habitat
Near-endemic to southern Africa, occurring from
south-western Angola through to Namibia, Botswana, southern Zimbabwe and
northern South Africa. It generally prefers arid and semi-arid savanna woodland
and shrubland, especially with Acacia trees, but it also occupies fallow
grazing land with scattered bushes.
Distribution of Great sparrow in southern Africa,
based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas
Animal Demography unit, University of
Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range
from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).
See here for the latest distribution
from the SABAP2.
It has been recorded as host of the
It mainly eats seeds and insects, foraging both on the
ground and in tree foliage.
- The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of an untidy, thick-walled
hollow ball with a side entrance, made of grass and asparagus leaves and
lined with feathers and fine grass. It is typically placed in a thorn tree
or bush, sometimes fairly exposed and easy to spot.
- Egg-laying season is from September-April.
- It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 12-14
- The chicks are fed by both parents on a diet of insects, leaving the
nest after about 15-18 days.
Not threatened, although the clearing of large trees has
caused its range to contract.
Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts
- Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker
Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.