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.
The blue bird house in contention
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.
This is the dead swallow in the sparrow nesting.
The dead swallow before I buried it
Last year I wrote several blogs about my battles with the sparrows. I never caught one last year but they never did raise any of their young in my backyard. I lost count of the nest I tore out. I threw out a total of 19 if the brown speckled sparrow eggs. I don't have a problem throwing out the sparrow eggs but I don't think I could destroy young sparrows. I'm not that ruthless.....yet.
At the present time there is a sparrow nest in one of the purple martin apartments. I'll wait until they lay their eggs and then I'll take out their nest, eggs and all. There is a downside to this. Last year when I tore out one of the nest the sparrow got into one of the purple martin apartment and killed three baby purple martins.
Planter boxes that edge my back yard bull of herbs
I grow a lot of flowers and herbs in my back yard. The bees and other insects love those plants and, in turn the birds feed off of the insect. I love sitting out in the early summer evening and watching the purple martins and swallows soar up and down in my back yard catching insects. I understand some people's concerns for all birds but I will not permit the sparrows to take over my back yard. They can find somewhere else to raise their young because it won't be in my backyard as long as I live here.
The purple martin house with gourds for the swallows