Foreign birds make history upon arrival in the Netherlands


Last May 11 Iago Sparrows flew aboard the MV Plancius on 6 May 2013 from the Cape Verde Islands. In the end, four birds (two male and two female) stayed on board until Hansweert, Zeeland, making them the first known individuals of that species (endemic to the islands off West Africa) to have reached Europe, and therefore writing history.

Once docked in Hansweert on 19 May, the sparrows stayed on board to eat breadcrumbs and hang out with the captain.

All four sparrows were timid and passive, up until the moment I released the male from his confinement on the bridge. The other male then sought the company of the Captain’s sparrow, and the two cocks started a fight. The aggressive display ended in a clear attempt to copulate. One male definitely mounted the other and tried to copulate. The male that was mounted did, however, not assume the classic submissive solicitation posture (crouched, neck drawn in, wings slightly drooped), a posture known from observation of female House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) that solicit copulation.

Please feel free to insert all kinds of good-humoured jokes in the comments.

(Links:,, Photo of Iago Sparrow by Hans Zwitzer, some rights reserved)

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