Cape Sparrow (Afrikaans: Gewone mossie)
A handsome sparrow of dry country and urban areas. Size 14-16cm
- slightly larger than the house sparrow.
The Cape Sparrow has a short,
powerful, conical bill. The bill is black in breeding males and
dark-grey in females. The legs and feet are brown.
The Male has a black head, throat and upper breast. This is broken
by a broad white "C" shape, which runs from behind the eye, to the
back of the head and to the upper breast. Females have a similar
pattern, but the background colour is grey, and the white "C" is
The back, mantle and shoulder area of the wing are a bright
red-brown colour and there is a broad white wing bar. The main
flight feathers (primaries and secondaries) are dark grey, with
whitish edges to the feathers, giving the folded wing a mottled
look. The rump is also reddish-brown.
The Cape Sparrow is at home in dry thornveld, farmland of the
highveld, semi-desert and karoo scrub. It has also adapted well to
human settlement and is a common and familiar bird around
farmsteads, and in gardens and towns. It is usually seen in pairs or
in small parties, although it often forms large flocks in the winter
months. It spends much of the time foraging on the ground, moves by
hopping and may be seen perched on fences, telephone posts or the
roofs of houses.
It eats mainly seeds, but also takes insects, the ovaries of
deciduous fruit blossoms and will readily come to feeding trays.
The call is a rolling, musical chreep, chirreep, chirrichreep.
The song is a repeated jerky rolling chirps, varying in pitch.
It breeds all months of the year. The nest is a large untidy hollow
ball of grass, weeds, feathers, string, cotton, cloth and other soft
material. It has a side entrance tunnel and is usually placed in a
tree or bush.
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