The great sparrow (Passer motitensis), also known as the southern rufous sparrow, is found in southern Africa in dry, wooded savannah and towns.[1][3]

Great sparrow
Great Sparrow.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Passeridae
Genus: Passer
P. motitensis
Binomial name
Passer motitensis
(Smith, 1836)[2]

This is a 15–16 cm long sparrow superficially like a large house sparrow. It has a grey crown and rear neck and rufous upperparts.[4][5][6][7]

While in the past some authorities considered this species and several related species of 'rufous sparrow' on the African mainland to be the same as the Iago sparrow of Cape Verde, they do not appear to be so closely related as thought. A few currently recognise only some of the rufous sparrows as separate from the great sparrow, but the Handbook of the Birds of the World and BirdLife International recognise the Socotra sparrow, Kenya sparrow, Kordofan sparrow, and Shelley's sparrow as separate species.[8][9]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Passer motitensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
  2. ^ Clancey, P. A. (1964). "On the original description of Passer iagoensis motitensis Smith". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 84 (6): 110.
  3. ^ Clement, Harris & Davis 1993, pp. 453–455
  4. ^ Summers-Smith 1988, pp. 80–81
  5. ^ Herremans, M. (1997). "Great Sparrow". In Harrison, J. A.; Allan, D. G.; Underhill, L. G.; Herremans, M.; Tree, A. J.; Parker, V.; Brown, C. J (eds.). The Atlas of Southern African Birds (PDF). 1. BirdLife South Africa.
  6. ^ Jensen, R. A. C. (1989). "Great Sparrow". In Ginn, P. J.; McIlleron, W. G.; Milstein, P. le S (eds.). The Complete Book of Southern African Birds. Cape Town: Struik Winchester. p. 650. ISBN 0-947430-11-3.
  7. ^ Sinclair, Hockey & Tarboton 2002.
  8. ^ Kirwan, Guy M. (2008). "Studies of Socotran Birds III. Morphological and mensural evidence for a 'new' species in the Rufous Sparrow Passer motitensis complex endemic to the island of Abd 'Al Kuri, with the validation of Passer insularis Sclater & Hartlaub, 1881". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 128 (2): 83–93.
  9. ^ Summers-Smith 2009.

Works citedEdit

  • Clement, Peter; Harris, Alan; Davis, John (1993). Finches and Sparrows. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-03424-9.
  • Sinclair, Ian; Hockey, Phil; Tarboton, Warwick (2002). SASOL Birds of Southern Africa. Struik. ISBN 1-86872-721-1.
  • Summers-Smith, J. Denis (1988). The Sparrows. illustrated by Robert Gillmor. Calton, Staffs, England: T. & A. D. Poyser. ISBN 0-85661-048-8.
  • Summers-Smith, J. Denis (2009). "Family Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)". In del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Christie, David (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-84-96553-50-7.

External linksEdit