Golden sparrow

Passer luteus taxonomy

Fringilla lutea Lichtenstein, 1823, Dongola, north Sudan. Formerly placed in genus Auripasser.

other common names

French: Moineau doré; German: Gelbsperling; Spanish: Gorrión Aureo.

physical characteristics

4.7-5.1 in (12-13 cm); 0.4-0.6 oz (11-17 g). Male golden-yellow apart from a chestnut back and some black on the wings. Female is sandy brown, juvenile paler.


A narrow zone south of the Sahara from Mauritania to the Red Sea.


Arid sandy areas with a low density of trees.


A gregarious, nomadic bird, forming roosts of up to half a million individuals.

feeding ecology and diet

Seeds and a small amount of insects. Nestlings mainly reared on invertebrates.

reproductive biology

Breeding occurs when there is a flush of insects following rains. Forms dispersed colonies of up to 50,000 nests. Clutch

two to three eggs; incubation 10-12 days, fledging 13-14 days. Second brood may be raised in a new location where conditions have become suitable.

conservation status

Not threatened. A common species.

significance to humans

Can be a pest where large flocks are attracted to ripening cereals. ♦

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