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This behaviour is unusual in House Sparrows.
In several species, the male may offer some gifts to the female, but it is often a food item. In some exotic passerines, sometimes the male gives a petal to his mate, but this type of courtship display is not widespread.

In this case, both mates have arrived separately at the site. The male waiting for the female already had the white feather, and the female joined him with the flower in the bill. Any gift between them!
House Sparrows would become romantic ???

I would be interested by your own observations and report.
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Text and photographs by Nicole Bouglouan, from an observation in the wild.



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Summary Observation-reports

This scene was observed in spring (2008 – May) in Extremadura – Spain, in the beautiful Park of Monfragüe.

I was observing the Common House Martins under the bridge over the Río Tajo, the river which crosses the park. They were building their nests with the mud collected on the river banks.

A male House Sparrow was perched on an abandoned nest, and it was watching for something, looking regularly and attentively from side to side. 

I returned to the House Martins but the House Sparrow was different… It was time for me to react !!!

The House Sparrow is now perched on a mount of dry mud among the House Martins still building their nests, but it has a white downy feather in the bill. Very strange…

And suddenly, a pretty female joins him and surprisingly, she also has something in the bill, identified as a flower of Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas).

The copulation occurs immediately, the male always with the white feather and the female with the flower.

They mate, and mate again and again, as all the House Sparrows in the entire world! They still have the ornaments. However, after the second copulation, the male leaves the feather, maybe only to breathe deeply, whereas the female keeps the flower.

After five copulations, the male seems to be tired ! It perches close to the female for some brief rest, while she waits for him, always with the flower in her bill !

Then, they mate again and finally, both birds separate and go their own ways.