A history of colonization and current status of the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) in the Faroe Islands

Sven-Axel Bengtson, Kirstin Eliasen, Laura Mary Jacobsen, E. Magnussen

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The house sparrow (Passer domesticus) breeds commonly in built-up areas throughout the Faroe Islands. The colonization began in the mid-1930s and the subsequent spread is described on the basis of previously published records, interviews with local people, and recent surveys of all habitations. Spatio-temporal pattern of spread is complex lending support to previous suggestions of possible, independent immigrations. It is suggested that the process of spread was influenced by the agency of man, geographical isolation (water-barriers and topography), and local conditions and population dynamics. Until now 80 % of the settlements (n = 118) have been more or less permanently colonized: first the larger ones (nearly all before 1960) and within 30-40 years c. 50% of those currently colonized (65% in the early 1980s). Total breeding population in 2001 and 2002 was estimated at c. 2,500 and 2,700 pairs, respectively; one-third being recorded in the capital Tórshavn (90 pairs/km2). The numbers (total and local) have fluctuated (though precise historical data are scarce) but currently no trend is discernible.

Gráspurvur (Passer domesticus) eigur í flestu býum og bygdum í Føroyum. Rættilig niðurseting byrjaði miðskeiðis í 1930unum, og síðani hevur hann spreitt seg um oyggjarnar. Úrslitini í greinini eru grundaði á nýggjar teljingar, samrøður við fólk og skrivligar frásagnir.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-251
Number of pages15
JournalFróðskaparrit - Faroese Scientific Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Natural Sciences
  • Zoology
  • Faroe Islands
  • Passer domesticus
  • colonization


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