Concerns about the population decline of the House Sparrow Passer domesticus in the Netherlands.

by Guus van der Poel

Male House Sparrow Decline USA

Who is worrying about the decline of the House Sparrow?

I was and still am.....I'll explain why. As can be seen from the above graph there is a steady long-term decline in House Sparrow numbers in the USA and similar declines have been found in European countries such as the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

Every living creature, even the humblest is a biological indicator of its own environment and if population declines come to light, we should not remain indifferent. Where the environment and its declining populations of animals or birds correspond with the environments in which we live ourselves, the more we should try to understand and think about the implications and remedial action. I am personally worried because the House Sparrow shares its environment with my own little grandchildren and the cause of the present decline of this species is unclear and perhaps might even indicate noxious conditions for these birds which could also have long-term implications for my grandchildren.....Who knows?

These concerns prompted me to do something positive and to start with I decided to begin gathering information to address the rather fundamental question: Is the decline in House Sparrow numbers the same everywhere?

I approached local newspapers, radio and TV stations to recruit assistance from the public. Forty-two volunteers in the region around my home town of Weesp (near Amsterdam) participated in a study counting House Sparrows in a survey in their own areas, following simple guidelines.The results were very revealing and were published in Dutch in "De Korhaan" in 1998, the journal of the local birding club of the Gooi & Vecht-region. For those interested in this subject I am now making them available in English. Hopefully these results and the rather tentative hypotheses which were generated, will inspire others to start thinking about these matters and to act along similar lines.


Abstract Quick overview of results and conclusions
Paper 1  Are House Sparrow numbers increasing or decreasing in Gooi & Vecht-region in the Netherlands? 
         De Korhaan 32, 9-10 (1998)
Paper 2  A study of House Sparrow-poor areas in "Gooi & Vechtstreek" (the Netherlands). 
         De Korhaan 32, 69-71 (1998)
Paper 3  House Sparrows, Magpies and the Garden-Bird survey. 
         De Korhaan 32, 100-102 (1998)

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Created on ... July 09, 2000

Revised on ... January 29, 2001