o Center For Human-Wildlife Conflict Resolution: Sparrows
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Species: Sparrow

Protection Level
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Federally Protected No
State Protected No
VA Nuisance Species Yes


There are 23 species of sparrows in Virginia. All but one of these species is classified as a non-game protected species in Virginia law. The house sparrow a European introduction is classified as a nuisance species in Virginia. House sparrows were initially introduced to the U.S. in the 1850’s. The house sparrow is the most common songbird in North America and the most widely distributed bird on the planet. The species nest in cavities and therefore is often deemed a pest by landowners because it displaces other cavity nesting birds and will nest in crevices of structures.

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House Sparrow
Passer domesticus

More Photos

Passer domesticus
[© Dave Herr]


county distribution map for Passer domesticus

Other Identification sources
Cornell lab of Ornithology


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The house sparrow is designated a nuisance species in Virginia 4VAC15-20-160. Virginia law allows the taking of all nuisance species at any time. While house sparrows are classified as a nuisance in Virginia a landowner should use lethal alternatives only after all non-lethal controls have been exhausted. The nuisance classification assigned to house sparrows is for house sparrows only and not the twenty two other species of sparrow found in Virginia. The other twenty two species of sparrow are classified as a non-game protected species. Virginia code allows for the taking of a species found committing or about to commit depredation upon ornamental or shade trees, agricultural crops, wildlife, livestock or other property or when concentrated in numbers and manners as to constitute a health hazard or other nuisance 29.1-100. The nuisance classification does not pertain to threatened or endangered species, animals classified as game or fur-bearing animals, and those species protected by state or federal law. As with all wildlife non-lethal control measures should be exhausted before lethal measures are used.

In Virginia it is illegal to

  • transport or release a house sparrow anywhere other than the property it was caught on. 4VAC15-30-50
  • poison any animal (including house sparrow) other than rats and mice on your property. 4VAC15-40-50
  • set a trap where it would be likely to injure persons, dogs, stock or fowl.§29.1-521.
  • not visit all traps once each day and remove all animals caught.§29.1-521.


Management Options
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Other Sources

Controlling House Sparrows, Texas Cooperative Extension

Dealing with Nuisance Wildlife, Maryland Cooperative Extension (need to scroll to appropriate species)

House Sparrow Control and Management Information, Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management

House sparrow, Florida Cooperative Extension

Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage- 1994



Life History
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Life History information can be found at the Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information Service Web page.

House Sparrow


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There are many diseases that wildlife species are capable of carrying and transferring to humans (zoonotic diseases). While all zoonotic diseases are a serious threat to humans this website will only address those that are a concern for Virginia residents.

Avian Salmonella - All bird species are capable of transmitting Salmonella. It is recommended to wash your hands toughly after contact with any bird contact including eggs.