Thursday, April 30, 2009

House Sparrow Attack






Today I get serious about the attack of house sparrows that I have on my bluebird boxes and Purple Martin house. Again, this morning I tore out a house sparrow nest in my Purple Martin house. That house sparrow is rebuilding that nest as I type this. One of the bluebird boxes has two house sparrow eggs in it. I was going to toss the nest out with the eggs but thought there might be a better way. I checked the Internet and found out there is several ways to deal with a house sparrow infestation. Some good and effective and some not so good nor effective.


I have already found one bluebird egg pierced and destroyed. The bluebirds have since laid five more eggs and they are guarded by the biggest bluebird I've ever seen. Last year three Purple Martin nestlings were pecked to death by the house sparrows trying to take over their nest. This year three of the apartments have Purple Martins in it but I haven't checked to see what their status is. I'm trying not to disturb them. I also have a gourd that swallows are nesting in.


I checked all the methods for controlling an infestation of house sparrows and the best one seems to be oiling the eggs, thus preventing air from getting to the embryo. Other options are freezing the eggs and putting them back in the nest. Piercing the eggs but you have to be careful to pierce the egg thoroughly or else you'll have the birth of a deformed sparrow. I don't want to cause any more harm than necessary. What I do want to do is provide a safe and secure environment for my native nesting birds to have a place to raise their young.


Tearing out the nests and eggs apparently doesn't stop the house sparrow from building another nest. The best thing to to is to keep the little buggers occupied with their eggs. Thus oiling the eggs seems to be the best option at this time.


I've posted a picture of what an aggressive house sparrow does to a bluebird when they want their nesting site. It is not a pretty picture. As much as I hate to destroy a bird nesting site, it is necessary if we are to maintain at least some of our native bird species such as the bluebird and Purple Martin.

10 comments:

  1. Ron, first of all, I can not believe there are so few comments to read on your blog. Nice blog, you had me at buttermilk cake. Nice to see some one out there thats near my age. I will be 60 this year.I traced my family, Mothers side, back to Europe mid 16 hundreds. Nuff said for now, Mike, studio city, ca

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  2. Mike,

    Thank you for your comment. It is good to hear from someone near my age also. I've heard from some very nice ladies but no gay men who are retired and who have similar interests like I do (genealogy, photography, gardening and blogging.) I've looked for their blogs but have been unsuccessful so far. That did surprise me.

    I'm very interested in genealogy. Is your family tree posted on Ancestry.com? I'm in the process of posting my family tree on that site. I would like to see your family tree.


    Again, good to hear from another guy of my age group with similar interests.

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  3. Anonymous8:31 PM

    Ron,

    I stumbled across your site, and what a delight! Love the play
    list...I am listening right now.
    Nice to know you are happy.
    Your photos are interesting, it's
    kind of a mystery to guess who
    the people are.
    My family use to go to Rehoboth
    Beach sometime around 1957,58 and then again in the early 1960's. Fond memories! We lived in VA of and on.

    Oh, we have house sparrows that nest on our back porch. Watched the
    eggs hatch, the birds grow and fly away...no martin houses so they are
    not the baddies to us. However,
    the coons and bobcats are!!

    Keep up the blog.

    KE in Texas

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  4. KE in Texas,

    Thank you for your very generous comments about my blog. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

    I love living in Sussex County, Delaware, near Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. Every day is like a vacation day to me (even though I do have to go to work today at my part-time job at the hotel.)

    I don't like to take out house sparrow nests but I do want to provide a nesting space for my Purple Martins, swallows and bluebirds. There are plenty of other nesting sites for the house sparrows which I leave undisturbed.

    When was the last time you were in the Rehoboth Beach area? If you haven't been here since the early 60's, you will see a lot of changes. Sussex County is one of the fastest growing counties in the United States. This area has great weather, low taxes and that wonderful sea air. I love living here!

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  5. Anonymous12:49 PM

    Hi Ron,

    KE in Texas here.
    Still listening to your play list!
    It' been a long time since I have
    been to Rehoboth Beach...but I did
    visit Ocean City MD a few years back. I use to go there as a teen ager in the 60's..which tells you
    maybe how old I am!

    Living in Texas, where there is no state income tax by the way, we go to "the coast" as they call it here. Just north of Corpus Chrisit
    about 30-40 miles. Rockport. It use
    to be a samll, coastal town, but is now growing a lot. But, you are right..nothing beats the sea air!

    I have been waiting for the sparrows to come back...if I can
    figure out how to post a photo, I'll attach one of them in the nest in a basket on our back porch. They did fly way!

    Adios,
    KE

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  6. KE,

    Good to hear from you again. Today was a beautiful day on the shores of coastal Delaware. I spent most of the day clearing away the dead summer flowers (we had our first frost last week) and planting spring bulbs. I wanted to do that chore on a nice day like today because before you know it, the cold winds of winter will be upon us here.

    I've never been to Texas (sounds like a title of a song doesn't it?) but maybe some day.

    I love every day here in Sussex County, but especially on days like today that are summerlike but without the hordes of tourists jamming up the highways.

    Take care.

    Ron

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  7. Linda4:16 PM

    I had a bluebird pair to lay 6 eggs. I had pulled out sparrow nestings 5 times. I put up sparrow spooker. Only three bluebird babies were born (sparrows destroyed the others); in 5 days, the sparrows attacked and killed the 3 babies. I now have 2 boxes; already the bluebirds re-built the nest and have 1 egg. The sparrows also have 1 egg in other box. I will freeze the first 3 sparrow eggs, return, and then do the same with other eggs. I closely monitor! Here's hoping. I also have a sparrow trap but prefer this if it works!

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  8. Linda,

    Thank you for your comment. Last year I also had problems with the sparrows but not this year (thank goodness). In fact, I just check the bluebird box and another batch of bluebird eggs are in there! That makes the second batch this summer. Last year Bill trapped a sparrow in a jar (the one that was killing the other birds - swallows) and it died before I could come home. Bill didn't want to kill it (I didn't either) but I think it died from shock (not suffocation because there was plenty of ventilation.) I think that was the Aggressive Sparrow and ringleader, because although I've seen sparrows this year none has dared to make a nest in any of the bluebird boxes or the Purple Martin house, which was always a pain to clean out. Good luck with your baby bluebirds!

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  9. Ron, unfortunately just keeping the HOSP busy with their own nest will not guarantee the safety of your other birds. HOSP have been known to attack nests of other birds 100' or more from their own nests, and a single male has been known to wipe out a whole colony of Purple Martins and take only one of the nest sites. The only sure ways is to kill as much of the HOSP population as possible, via active hunting with a pellet rifle (Not a BB Gun) and/or using an effective live trapping method. I say live trap as that way you can release other birds accidentally trapped.

    The HOSP is an introduced (1859) species that was documented by a Scientist in 1889 to kill 70 different native species. They are extremely aggressive and harass many others. As an exotic invasive destructive species there population needs to be kept as low as possible!

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    Replies
    1. Will,
      Thank you for your comment and advice. You are absolutely right, the house sparrow population needs to be kept to a minimum. Sadly, this year I did not have a Purple Martin population. They tried to establish a colony but either the starlings or sparrows killed them. Same thing happened to my one bluebird. I found him/her dead and the three eggs gone. Very sad. I will be more aggressive next year in keeping the house sparrows and starlings from nesting. I took out five starling nests from my Purple Martin house but that didn't seem to make much difference this year. It make she angry that someone would be stupid enough to introduce a species of birds in this country to kill different native species.
      Thank you again for your comment and advice.
      Ron

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