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Socotra Sparrow - BirdForum Opus

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Photo by mikemik
Socotra, Yemen, November 2010
Passer insularis


13 - 14cm. The only sparrow in its range.


  • Grey forehead to hindneck and entire upperparts
  • Prominent black eyestripe
  • Broad rufous-chestnut band from above eye and in crescent around rear of light greyish ear-coverts
  • White cheek
  • Back streaked black
  • Prominent chestnut on scapulars
  • Blackish to dark brown upperwings
  • Broad white tips on median coverts
  • Dark brown tail
  • Greyish underparts


  • Drab brown with greyer upperparts
  • Streaked on back
  • Warm buff supercilium

Juveniles resemble females.

Similar species

Abd al-Kuri Sparrow is much paler.


Found on Socotra and adjacent islets of Samha and Darsa (Yemen) in the Indian Ocean, off the Horn of Africa.
Restricted-range species but common to abundant in its range.


This is a monotypic species.
Abd al-Kuri Sparrow was formerly included in this species.
Some authorities consider the Socotra Sparrow to be a subspecies of Passer motitensis, the Rufous Sparrow.


Dry areas and towns. Occurs up to 1500m.


Few information about diet. Probably feeds on seeds of grasses and small plants.
Often seen in flocks of 30 to 50 birds.
Breeding season from November to April. Usually two broods. Breeds in colonies of up to ten pairs. The nest is an untidy construction maed of dead grass and placed in a hole in a cliff, a house or tree, also openly in branches of a thorny tree. Lays 3 eggs.
A resident species.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9., with updates to August 2014. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2014. IOC World Bird Names (version 4.3). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  3. 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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