Tree sparrow Passer montanus

Tree sparrows are scarce birds of farmland, hedgerows and woodland edges and are not associated with man in the way that the house sparrow is in the UK. Male and female tree sparrows look the same, with chestnut-brown crowns, chestnut backs, buff undersides, white cheeks and a black cheek-spot. They can be distinguished from the male house sparrows by the brown cap, instead of grey, and by presence of the black cheek-spot.


Tree sparrows mate for life; they nest in holes in trees and can produce two or three broods a year, each containing up to seven eggs. They eat seeds, weeds, cereals and also insects.


  • Length: 14cm
  • Wingspan: 21cm
  • Weight: 24g
  • Average Lifespan: 2 years


Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Classified in the UK as a Red List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.


Widespread in England, southern Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland.

When to see

January – December


  • In parts of Asia, tree sparrows are the common city sparrows, rather than birds of the rural countryside.

Common name

Tree sparrow

Species name

Passer montanus

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

January – December

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Hadfast Valley or Balgavies Loch.

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