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Swahili Sparrow - BirdForum Opus

Photo by volker sthamer
Lake Manyara, Tanzania, September 2017
Passer suahelicus


Photo by volker sthamer
Burunge, Tanzania, September 2017

15 - 16cm (6-6¼ in)

  • Greyish-brown head, neck, back and underparts
  • Brown upperwing and tail
  • Chestnut-red shoulder
  • Small white wing-bar
  • Sometimes paler greyish area on throat
  • Blackish-horn bill

Sexes similar. Juveniles are very similar too but they lack the white wing-bar

Similar Species

Very similar to Parrot-billed Sparrow, Northern Grey-headed Sparrow and Swainson's Sparrow. Compared to Grey-headed Sparrow note the grey-brown more or less uniform mantle. It's also darker below than Northern Grey-headed Sparrow.


Found in southern Kenya, northern Tanzania and patchily into southwest Tanzania.
Generally common but a poorly known species.


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


Grassland with some trees and light woodland. Occurs up to 2000m.



Feeds mainly on seeds.


Breeding season January to May, coinciding with rains. The nest is an untidy dome with a side entrance. It's placed in a hole in a tree or a house. May also use old nests of swallows. No other information.


A resident species with some local movements during rains.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. 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

Recommended Citation

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