The sparrow name may originate from the Anglo-Saxon word spearwa which meant flutterer. House sparrows (Passer domesticus) are perhaps the most cosmopolitan of all birds, and have lived alongside humans since the Stone Age. The male crown and nape are grey and only the sides of the head are brown. Though a long-established resident of Britain, it’s not thought to be a native, but spread naturally north from North Africa. Once one of Britain’s commonest birds, numbers have crashed in recent years. London lost three-quarters of its sparrows between 1994 and 2000. When sparrows were at their most numerous in the early 1900s, there were many sparrow clubs whose members competed to kill the most birds in a year.