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Passer griseus (Northern grey-headed Sparrow)

Witkeelmossie [Afrikaans]; Grijskopmus [Dutch]; Moineau gris [French]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Passeridae

Passer griseus (Northern grey-headed Sparrow) Passer griseus (Northern grey-headed Sparrow)

Northern grey-headed sparrow, Tanzania. [photo Martin Goodey ]

Northern grey-headed sparrow, Uganda. [photo Kristian Svensson ]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across in sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Eritrea, south through Soudan and the DRC to Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and southern Africa. Here it is locally common in villages and suburbs of certain cities in northern Botswana and Namibia (both in the west and in the Caprivi Strip) and north-western Zimbabwe, but also occupying parts of the capital Harare. It has never been recorded outside man-made habitats in southern Africa.

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as prey of Thelotornis capensis (Bird snake).


It mainly eats grass seeds, doing most of its foraging on the ground and in vegetation, often in mixed-species flocks alongside other granivorous birds. The following food items have been recorded in its diet in Ghana (although everything listed occurs in southern Africa):


  • It is a monogamous, usually solitary nester, although it may breed in loose colonies.
  • Both sexes construct the nest, which is an untidy mat made of grass and lined with feathers, typically placed in a tree cavity, either natural or an abandoned nest of a woodpecker or barbet, or in a hole in a building, hollow fence post, horizontal metal pipe or a cavity in a thatch roof. It may also use the nests of other birds, such as swallows, bee-eaters, swifts and kingfishers, sometimes evicting them while they are actively breeding.
  • Egg-laying season in Zambia is from July-April, peaking from January-April.
  • It lays 2-7 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 16 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents on a diet of insects, leaving the nest after about 19 days.


Not threatened.


  • 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.