Comprehensive Description

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The family Passeridae includes Old World sparrows, snowfinches and relatives. They are often confused with New World sparrows (family Emberizidae). Though they share a superficial resemblance, these two groups are not closely related. Most members of this family are brown or gray and lack any bright coloration. They are seed eaters and have a short, strong, decurved bill. Their songs are usually simple.

Old World sparrows were originally found in Europe, Asia and Africa. However, as a result of introductions by humans, today they have an almost worldwide distribution. Old World sparrows generally inhabit open areas. They are well adapted to urban landscapes and can be found alongside humans throughout the world.

Howard and Moore’s Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World (2003) lists 11 genera and 40 species within Passeridae.


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