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Subject: Russet Sparrow [Print This Page]

Author: ddavid    Time: 27/10/2012 21:43     Subject: Russet Sparrow

Today on the there are images from more than one photographer of at least seven Russet Sparrows together. I presume these were taken at Long Valley today. See

I mention this because:

i) no images of these birds have appeared on this, the HKBWS website, so they might go unnoticed by interested parties
ii) this species was recently placed in Category III i.e all records are now deemed to refer to escaped/released birds

To me, the birds in the photos look in pristine condition and - although I understand the problems of defining the true status of this species in HK - I can't really see why these birds should not be considered genuine migrants.

Author: brendank    Time: 27/10/2012 21:57

I agree completely and would add to your comment that a search of reports of Russet Sparrow reported on the HKBWS forum show that the vast majority of reports have been in October and November. Since I imagine Russet Sparrows are commonly sold in bird markets through out the year, I don't see a reason why Russet Sparrows are being released only during October and November.
Author: cwchan    Time: 27/10/2012 22:48

Yes,  a flock of about 7 was seen today at Long Valley.

27 October 2012

Digiscopic shot, 30X eyepiece, Nikon 8400

Author: wilsondring    Time: 27/10/2012 22:56

there were quite a few around today .. in the 2nd photo, although the one on the left is out of focus, can someone confirm that it is also a Russet Sparrow?

Image Attachment: G94A6231.jpg (27/10/2012 22:56, 31.82 KB) / Download count 194

Image Attachment: G94A6277.jpg (27/10/2012 22:56, 37.61 KB) / Download count 215

Author: vivian    Time: 27/10/2012 23:58

It was took in my short lens today, 14 Russet Sparrows in one pic.
some were on tree another side

Author: vivian    Time: 28/10/2012 00:02

one more

Author: wgeoff    Time: 28/10/2012 07:36

Thanks for these responses and particularly to Dave for pointing out the photos on the HK Wildlife website. I have been collecting photos of this year's Long Valley birds as I know the Records Committee will want to review them.

The Records Committee review of Russet Sparrow records started more than one year ago and initially included all historical records of Russet Sparrow to the end of 2010. These, excluding the 2011 LV records, are summarised by month in the attached table

Month        J        F        M        A        M        J        J        A        S        O        N        D
‘Wild’        -        -        1*        1*        -        -        -        -          3          1          2         2*
‘Esc’        2     3(8)     2(3)     1            1        -        -        -        -        -        3(7)        1

The number of records in each month is given with the number of birds in brackets.

As you can see from this table

1. The records are fairly evenly spaced by month over the year, not just in October and November.
2. The majority of records and of birds were originally recorded or subsequently accepted as 'Esc' or ex-captive.
3. The birds marked with a * were subsequently reviewed by the RC and thought likely to refer to ex-captive birds.

So it's fairly clear that, prior to the 2011 Long Valley birds (and now 2012), the overwhelming majority of birds were ex-captive or thought to be. All of the records from 1999 up to the end of 2010 were ex-captive. The 2011 Long Valley birds were also assessed and at least one showed obvious signs of captivity. The Records Committee felt they could not accept a group of birds when at least one was obviously ex-captive.

As a result of this investigation, the RC concluded it could not continue to accept Russet Sparrow as a clear Cat I bird. As everyone knows, it takes a conservative view when looking at the distinction between Cat I and Cat III. In the old Avifauna system, the RC could cop out by using Cat B 'probably wild' but no such category now exists (because it is a cop-out). Russet Sparrow is a well-known species in bird markets and cages, also for mass release.

I think you can see from this analysis that the RC makes a serious attempt to review all past records when taking a decision like this. It is not taken lightly but only after an assessment lasting more than one year. They will no doubt do the same with this year's Long Valley birds, but history indicates that Russet Sparrows which arrive in flocks of this size have previously been ex-captive.

[ Last edited by wgeoff at 28/10/2012 22:04 ]
Author: ddavid    Time: 28/10/2012 10:19


Thanks for such a detailed and clear explanation.

Author: wilsondring    Time: 28/10/2012 19:25

They seem to have disappeared today bar two, they have been replaced by a larger than usual flock of euroasian tree sparrow.

The second one was spotted far from the location where they were seen yesterday, near the entrance from 河上鄉 village.
Author: Stonechat    Time: 29/10/2012 17:49

Found on Oct 28,2012. It looks like a Juvenile.

[ Last edited by Stonechat at 29/10/2012 17:51 ]

Image Attachment: Russet Sparrow 1.jpg (29/10/2012 17:49, 120.26 KB) / Download count 234

Image Attachment: Russet Sparrow 2.jpg (29/10/2012 17:51, 77.92 KB) / Download count 205

Author: OlangoSteveUK    Time: 26/11/2012 04:33

Maybe they will colonise and produce a viable breeding population in the future. One can only hope

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