This weekend I watched two female sparrows engaged in what seemed like a fight to the death. They were clutching each other and biting each other's heads while rolling around on the floor around our feet. They were oblivious to several of us humans standing around watching, and also to the occasional male sparrow that seemed to try to stop the fight. I wish I had had my camera with me – it was a stunning thing to watch.

The fight must have lasted four or five minutes. Once or twice one of them got behind the other and would then grab the other by the back of the head in its beak. The one in front would "cheep" loudly and repeatedly while grabbed like this.

Most of the time the two of them were front on, usually with one's beak clamped by the other one's beak. At such times, they were also clasping each other by their feet. Sometimes they would flutter up a foot or so off the ground in this position. But most of the time the two sparrows were rolling around on the floor and under tables (this was outside a cafe) though obstacles didn't stop or slow them. They seemed completely unaware of anything around them.

At one point the sparrows fell off the raise wooden patio on to the ground about 18 inches below but that didn't stop them either. Eventually one flew of the down the street with the other chasing it, just a couple of feet behind. At various times, other sparrows (not just the male I mentioned) would hop nearby to watch.

They were definitely females (no black bibs - unlike the thrid bird that would occasionally intervene).

Amazing thing. I've never seen anything like it. Searching the web I can find references to male sparrows fighting and I did find one reference to female sparrows fighting.

Another thing that surprised me about this was the time of year. Clearly, in the first week of November this is not some spring rucking behaviour!