Friday, May 16, 2008

Eviction Day

Pulling the curtains back from my bedroom window this morning, I could see the sparrow fly up to the Purple Martin house with a couple of strands of straw in its beak. The little bird was determined to make a nest on the southern side of the multi apartment birdhouse. The previous two days I had taken out the sparrow’s nesting material only to see it immediaely fly back to the opening with more dried grass and stalks of small weeds. The Purple Martins swirled about its head, chattering in protest, but the little bird continued building its nest. The determined sparrow was not to be deterred even though it was out numbered. However, I had made my mind up to evict all the sparrows in my birdhouses today, especially the Purple Martin birdhouse which is a communal bird house and not conjunctive to sharing their apartment complex with an outsider like the sparrow. In the morning mist, with a light rain falling, I checked the other four bird boxes that border the acre of land behind my house. Two of the bird boxes had full nests. Both nests contained the brown spotted eggs of the sparrow. Another bird box had the beginnings of a sparrow nest. The fourth bird box, the original bird box that the Birdman had tossed nest and eggs out last Monday, continued to be empty. Perhaps the original occupant of that bird box gave up building its nest in that bird box. Yesterday and early this morning, I saw a pair of blue birds sitting on top of the bird box. Perhaps they were considering making a nest and raising their young. I put on my gloves, and pulled the sparrow’s nests out of both bird boxes, being careful not to break the eggs. Why, I don’t know. My actions seemed contradictory since I was destroying the sparrow's nests. Frank, the Birdman, said to throw the eggs in the brush “for the snakes to eat.” If there were baby birds in the bird boxes, I would have left them alone. After cleaning out the bird boxes I went back inside my house to observe. It didn’t take long until the sparrows came back to the empty bird boxes. I left the doors to the boxes opened, so they would not have the opportunity build new nests. In the misty rain, the sparrows perched on top of the boxes, and hopped down to the now open front of the box to look in and wonder in puzzlement what happened to their nest. I left the fronts of those boxes open the rest of the day. Later in the day, when the rain had stopped, I observed two blue birds dive bombing a furious sparrow who was now trying to make a nest in the original bird box. I immediately went out to that bird box at the far end of my yard. Upon my approach, the sparrow the blue birds flew away. I opened the front and saw the beginnings of a new sparrow nest of straw and dried grass. I tore it out and tossed it aside. I closed the front of the box, and went to the other bird boxes and also closed the fronts. I looked up to the Purple Martin bird house. The Purple Martins were sitting on the ledges outside their apartment bird house, contentedly chattering away. I did not see the sparrow of yesterday who was so furiously determined to build its nest in the Purple Martin house. Maybe they got the message. They are not welcomed in this neighborhood. They will have to go elsewhere to make their nests and raise their young. I came to this conclusion after reading about sparrows and their aggressive nesting habits. Sparrows are not native to the North American continent. One story has it that an Englishman brought over sparrows, along with non-natives birds like the European Starling, in the 19th century to New York City. His purpose was to introduce as many bird species to America as were mentioned in William Shakespeare’s plays. Another story has it that these non native birds were introduced to this continent to control certain insect pests. Of course what happened was the Law of Unintended Consequences. There are millions and millions of sparrows in the North American continent today. Their aggressive nesting habits have almost wiped out the less aggressive American blue bird. I think what really convinced me was the fact that sometimes the sparrow will even kill the bluebird and will build its nest over the top of the still live baby blue birds in their nest, thus killing them. As harsh as it may seem, I made a decision that my acre of land will be a home to the native American species such as the Purple Martin, Barn Swallow and American blue bird. Sparrows, starlings and other non native American species can come to visit, but the blue bird houses that I installed will only be a home for blue birds. The Purple Martin bird house will only be a home for Purple Martins. The gourds that I have hanging from the Purple Martin house will only be a home for Barn Swallows. I equate the sparrow’s aggressive behavior in taking over in the same league as the European explorers who entered the North American continent over 500 years ago and took over from the native Americans. An even more extreme example would be like a biker gang arriving in the development where I live and taking over my house by force just because they are stronger than me. While I believe everyone and everything deserves to live, I do believe there are limits as to where they will live and how much their aggressive behavior is rewarded. On my land I am creating a habitat for certain native American birds. The sparrows can rebuild their nest as many times as they want. In the end, I will prevail. I am bigger. Those birdhouses will either house blue birds or they will be empty. I will be a good landlord. The Birdman would be pleased.


  1. I was so saddened by this post - to me, it was like Hitler saying who should 'eat and not eat'...who should live where - when, and never about 'how'.

    Nature makes herself aggressive; the survival of the fittest - she loves her sparrows, and when this happened to me so many years ago in Michigan where the Bluebird is also prevalent, I just built more bird-boxes. To me, sparrows and bluebirds are all entitled to my love; my little 'box' of a home, and to those like the wrens who loved my gourds I hollowed out for their homes, I welcome them all.

  2. Hey Ron: I just noticed that Retired in Delaware is RID...strange, don't you think - considering what you wrote about allowing only the native-birds to your property.

    I also think about those who discriminate against color; race - creed and seem to be asking for tolerance and understanding, and I hope you'll re-think your own stance for 'housing'.........

  3. Anonymous11:07 AM

    Ron, there is absolutely nothing wrong with segregating birds with the housing you provide them. Just nothing wrong with it at all.

  4. Thank you for your comment. I have relented and let the sparrows stay in the Purple Martin house. Just because I was taking the pole down every day and cleaning out their nest. Of my three bluebird houses, bluebirds are in one box. Sparrows in another. The third box has half a nest in it. I don't know who that belongs too.


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