Evolution and systematics

Sparrows (Passeridae) are seed-eaters, separated by their method of dehusking seeds and their digestive tract. Originally placed with the finches (Fringillidae) and then with the weavers (Ploceidae), sparrows are now recognized as a separate family. It is thought that these birds evolved in the Afrotropical Region during the middle of the Miocene. One group, the snow finches and ground sparrows, probably arose from an early radiation into the Palearctic. The birds in Africa then split into two groups: the rock sparrows and the true sparrows, which subsequently colonized Africa and gave rise to secondary colonizations of Eurasia.

As of 2001, five genera of sparrows are recognized: the snow finches (Montifringilla) and the ground sparrows (Pyrgi-lauda) derived from the original Eurasian radiation; the pale rock sparrow (Carpospiza brachydactyla) was separated from the rock sparrows Petronia and placed in a monotypic genus Carpospiza; the remainder are the true sparrows in the genus Passer with 26 representatives.

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