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Who wins?
Eurasian Tree Sparrow 0 (0%)
Great Tit 3 (100%)
Total Votes: 3
Eurasian Tree Sparrow v Great Tit
Topic Started: Jan 9 2017, 10:41 PM (484 Views)
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Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Passer montanus
The Eurasian tree sparrow (Passer montanus) is a passerine bird in the sparrow family with a rich chestnut crown and nape, and a black patch on each pure white cheek. The sexes are similarly plumaged, and young birds are a duller version of the adult. This sparrow breeds over most of temperate Eurasia and Southeast Asia, where it is known as the tree sparrow, and it has been introduced elsewhere including the United States, where it is known as the Eurasian tree sparrow or German sparrow to differentiate it from the native unrelated American tree sparrow. Although several subspecies are recognised, the appearance of this bird varies little across its extensive range. The Eurasian tree sparrow's untidy nest is built in a natural cavity, a hole in a building or the large nest of a European magpie or white stork. The typical clutch is five or six eggs which hatch in under two weeks. This sparrow feeds mainly on seeds, but invertebrates are also consumed, particularly during the breeding season. As with other small birds, infection by parasites and diseases, and predation by birds of prey take their toll, and the typical life span is about two years. The Eurasian tree sparrow is 12.5–14 cm (5–5 1⁄2 in) long, with a wingspan of about 21 cm (8.3 in) and a weight of 24 g (0.85 oz), making it roughly 10% smaller than the house sparrow.

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Great Tit - Parus major
The great tit (Parus major) is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is a widespread and common species throughout Europe, the Middle East, Central and Northern Asia, and parts of North Africa in any sort of woodland. The great tit is large for a tit at 12.5–14.0 cm (4.9–5.5 in) in length, and has a distinctive appearance that makes it easy to recognise. The nominate race P. major major has a bluish-black crown, black neck, throat, bib and head, and white cheeks and ear coverts. Great tits are primarily insectivorous in the summer, feeding on insects and spiders which they capture by foliage gleaning. Weight: 14-22 g

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Jan 5 2017, 04:12 AM
Great Tit (Parus major) v Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)

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I thought that people would find this a closer match-up than House Sparrow v Great Tit not only because these two birds are similar in size, but also because the Eurasian Tree Sparrow isn't as aggressive as the House Sparrow.

"Eurasian tree sparrows are not nearly as aggressive as house sparrows and will not compete strongly for nesting sites."

"At first glance, the Eurasian tree sparrow is similar to the house sparrow, both in appearance and in the fact that both species are Old World sparrows introduced to North America. Unlike its cousin, however, the Eurasian tree sparrow has not spread across the continent and it lacks the aggressive behavior that characterizes the house sparrow."


"Not aggressive or pugnacious like the HOSP, but may attempt to claim a box used by another bird (e.g., chickadee)."


However, here is a study that shows that Eurasian Tree Sparrows are still capable of aggression:


Some Eurasian Tree Sparrows fighting:

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Size comparison with Great Tit, the opponent it's going up against here:

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The Great Tit, on the other hand, is relatively quite aggressive.

"The great tit will even fan its wings and hiss menacingly if the interloper hasn’t yet heeded the message about the need for a bit of elbow room. Many years ago when I used to mist net and ring birds, the great tit was by far the most aggressive species to hold in the hand and would deliver a painful nip if given half the chance."


"It also may be very aggressive, and attacks other nests, to capture chicks."


Study on intraspecific aggression with great tits:


Great Tit intraspecific fights:

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But great tits go to even bigger lengths; going as far as predating on similarly-sized birds:

(graphic photos ahead, so I put a spoiler around it)

Spoiler: click to toggle

Some more evidence of the predatory behaviour of great tits:

Rather less well known is that the Great tit sometimes uses its relatively large size and powerful bill to kill smaller passerines, and indeed Barnes (1975) noted that “A topic of some interest to earlier writers was the alleged murderous tendency of great tits” (p. 112). Barnes described two or three cases where Pied flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca were “found dead with smashed skulls in nest-boxes taken over by great tits” (p. 112), and also referred to occasions when Great tits had attacked and killed birds that were caught in traps, nets or cages. Caris (1958) reported a case in which an English Great tit was seen flying away with a dead Goldcrest Regulus regulus (one of Europe’s smallest passerines: it may weigh just 5g); it had been killed by a peck to the back of the head, and had had its eyes pecked out and skull mangled. Even better, Howard Saunders (1899) wrote that “The Great Titmouse will attack small and weakly birds, splitting their skulls with its powerful beak in order to get at their brains; and it has even been known to serve a Bat in this manner”. A bat… reported killed by a Great tit in 1899? The behaviour has, therefore, been in the literature for a long time, but being ‘in the literature’ is not the same as ‘has been studied and properly documented’. So, hats off to Estók et al. (2009), this is still pretty amazing stuff.


I imagine that the great tit would most likely be the aggressor, but the sparrow might be a bit bulkier as well as having a thicker beak which might mean it is better at dealing blunt trauma, but it should be worth noting that great tits often smash into acorns and the skulls of similarly-sized animals so it's no slouch in using it's beak effectively. I think the tit would probably be more agile owing to its larger wingspan and (I think, anyway) slightly lighter build, but I'm not sure. I do think that tits are very agile passerines from my anecdotes on them, though.

I imagine that this is a close fight, but I'm going with the great tit slightly as usual. It's probably more aggressive, agile, armed with a sharper beak and experienced in killing birds similar in size. The sparrow would definitely put up a fight though, and most likely a much better one than the birds that the great tit kills, because it is probably harder to overpower due to the slightly more robust build it has, as well as the large and thick beak it is armed with.

I do think that the great tit's capabilities of killing similarly-sized birds are important to note here, though. It's true that the combatants it goes up against could be considered more formidable in behaviour, but it's still proof that great tits are capable of killing similarly-sized opponents physically. I'd say the great tit wins this around 6.6 or 7/10.
I remember Ntwadumela mentioning about Eurasian Tree Sparrows dominating Great Tits at birdfeeders, but I can't find any information on this. I wish he would post more often, it would be interesting to see his opinions on these kinds of match-ups as well as Koolyote's.
Edited by Vivyx, Jan 11 2017, 02:22 AM.
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Just asking, is anybody else interested in passerine v passerine?

Does anybody have information about Eurasian Tree Sparrow predation on vertebrates? I remember Thalanx mentioning about them eating frogs and discarded lizard tails, but I can't find much about it.
Edited by Vivyx, Jan 12 2017, 02:58 AM.
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