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Parrot-billed Sparrow - BirdForum Opus

Photo by nkgray
Samburu National Reserve, Kenya, October 2012
Passer gongonensis


18cm (7 in). The largest of the African Grey-headed Sparrows:

  • Distinctive heavy arched bill
  • Mid-grey head, neck and underparts
  • Brown upperparts, wings and tail
  • Bright chestnut rump
  • Conspicuous white patch formed by white tips of median-coverts

Sexes similar. Juveniles are browner and they lack the white wing-patch.

Similar Species

Larger than Northern Grey-headed Sparrow, Swahili Sparrow and Swainson's Sparrow, generally darker and with a normally more extensive white wing-bar.


Occurs in east central Africa in extreme south-east South Sudan, south Somalia, extreme eastern Uganda, most of Kenya and extreme north-eastern Tanzania.
Common in most of its range.


This is a monotypic species[1]. Forms a superspecies with Northern Grey-headed Sparrow, Swainson's Sparrow, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow and Swahili Sparrow. All are often treated as conspecific.


Open country and bush. In more arid country than other members of the superspecies.



Feeds mainly on seeds. Nestlings are probably fed with insects.
Forages in pairs or small groups, rarely in larger flocks.


Breeding throughout the year, coinciding with rains. The nest is an untidy dome with a side entrance, made of dry grass. It's placed in a tree, sometimes in a tree hole. May also take old nests of other species. Lays 2 eggs in Kenya, 4 - 5 in a study in Somalia.


No information about movements.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507

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