Italian Sparrow, Northrepps, Norfolk.
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Tuesday, September 10, 2013
The Italian Sparrow (Passer italiae), also known as the Cisalpine Sparrow, is a passerine bird of the sparrow family Passeridae, found in Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean region. In appearance, it is intermediate between the House Sparrow, and the Spanish Sparrow, a species of the Mediterranean and Central Asia closely related to the House Sparrow. The Italian Sparrow occurs in northern Italy and neighbouring regions, with intermediates with the House Sparrow in a very narrow contact zone in the Alps, a slow gradation in appearance from the Italian to Spanish Sparrows across central and southern Italy, and more birds of intermediate appearance in Malta, Crete, and other parts of the Mediterranean. There has been much debate on the origins and taxonomic status of the Italian Sparrow, especially given its possible hybrid origin. Some have classified it as a subspecies of House Sparrow, a subspecies of the Spanish Sparrow, or as a distinct species, a treatment followed if only for convenience by authorities such as the Handbook of the Birds of the World. A DNA analysis by Glenn-Peter Sætre and colleagues published in 2011 indicated an origin of the Italian Sparrow through hybridisation between the Spanish and House Sparrows, and Sætre and colleagues argued that given its origins and the limited extent of hybridisation, the treatment as a distinct species was supported