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Thread: Sicitalian Sparrows

  1. #1
    Moderator Brian S's Avatar
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    Default Sicitalian Sparrows

    Below is a gallery of 'Sicitalian Sparrows' taken recently on Sicily. They are all from the Siracusa area and show the variability in sparrows from the area - many show 'proper' features of Spanish (as in image 5) whilst only birds in the very north of Sicily show features more akin to proper Italian Sparrows.

    What is the current thinking on the taxonomic status of Italian Sparrow? I spend time every year in southern Switzerland (where they are supposed to be) but have not recently seen any that match the 'form', or whatever it is.

    Brian S
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    Senior Member Alex Lees's Avatar
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    Last edited by Alex Lees; April 27th, 2012 at 07:16 PM.
    Dept. of Zoology, University of Cambridge, UK

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    In natural science the principles of truth ought to be confirmed by observation. — Carolus Linnaeus

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    Senior Member Alex Lees's Avatar
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    Actually in searching for that I just found this:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1...470.x/abstract

    which is pretty cool:

    No differentiation between the indicus and domesticus groups was found, supporting the single origin hypothesis. One of the subspecies in the indicus group, P. d. bactrianus, differs ecologically from other house sparrows in being migratory and in preferentially breeding in natural habitat. We suggest that bactrianus represents a relict population of the ancestral, noncommensal house sparrow. When agricultural societies developed in the Middle East about 10 000 years ago, a local house sparrow population of the bactrianus type adapted to the novel environment and eventually became a sedentary, human commensal. As agriculture and human civilizations expanded, house sparrows experienced a correlated and massive expansion in range and numbers. The pattern of genetic variation analysed here is consistent with this scenario.
    Dept. of Zoology, University of Cambridge, UK

    My website - Neotropical Bird Club -Tropical Forest Research - Punkbirder - Wikiaves

    In natural science the principles of truth ought to be confirmed by observation. — Carolus Linnaeus

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    Moderator Brian S's Avatar
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    Thank you Alex, I knew I had seen it somewhere.

    So my Sicitalian Sparrows are actually Italian, but with Spanish features? The second reference paper states that those from the 'Calabria peninsula and Sicily indicate an area where Italian sparrows look more similar to Spanish sparrows.'

    Brian S

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    Senior Member Odonate's Avatar
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    I put together a few images showing the variation through Italy here - certainly, those from the far south look more like Spanish while those from the far north are possibly closer to House supporting the hybrid origin theory. I fyou get down to Lampedusa/Linosa then it starts to mess with your head as what looks like a Spanish starts eating the crumbs from under the table!

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    This is what they looked like when I went to Lugano in 2010

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jjbirder/4532830493

    The opposite end of the spectrum from yours Brian

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