I live in a development of three quarter acre lots. I chose my corner lot because it is almost an acre and backs up to a farmer's field. Beyond the field is Route 1. I am far enough away from Route 1 that the constant traffic doesn't bother me but is rather like a living panorama.
The real panorama is what goes on in my backyard during the spring and summer months. I love grow flowers and herbs. I also love to provide a natural habitat for several native bird species.
I have my back yard lined with three blue bird (or swallow) boxes and one purple martin house.
The past two years I have had bluebirds take up residence in one of the bluebird houses and raise two batches of four baby bluebirds each season.
Each year I have had to fight the common house sparrow who are a non-native bird species. The sparrows come in early and take over the bird boxes, fighting off and killing the native species of birds that I am trying provide a home for.
This year the sparrows have been particularly aggressive. So aggressive that the bluebirds have given up even building a nest in the same box that they built in the past two years.
A pair of swallows is attempting to build a nest in that blue bird box. So far the sparrows have killed one of the swallows. I came back from an errand one day and checked the box only to have a sparrow fly out of the box, leaving a dead swallow in the box. That was two weeks ago.
Since then Bill has built a contraption to trap the sparrow in the box. After I returned from my visit in Pennsylvania he showed me the male sparrow that he caught with a bottle that he put to the door of the bluebird house that he had trapped. He intended to keep the sparrow for me but the sparrow died in the bottle. He didn't know why it died because he left the lid ajar for air. Maybe the bird died from shock that he was caught. Good. I was going to twist its neck anyway.
Since then another pair of swallows has been attempting to build a nest but without success. Last Saturday I was checking one of the other bluebird boxes and I was shocked by what I found. The sparrows had built a nest but to the side was a dead swallow. As incredible as it seems, the sparrows were going to raise their young with a dead bird in their box!
I took the dead swallow out of the box and tore out the sparrow nesting. Below is what happens when you let sparrows take over your bird boxes.