“Without question the most deplorable event in the history of American ornithology was the introduction of the English Sparrow.” -W.L. Dawson, The Birds of Ohio, 1903
Tragedy struck the red dirt hill today. All five of the bluebird eggs were destroyed. It happened in just minutes. I mowed the back lawn and the nestbox was fine. Mama flew out at the sound of the mower, but hung around the back yard. I mowed the side of the house which took maybe five minutes and returned to edge along the patio. Then I saw an egg with a large hole pecked in it laying on the edge of the patio. I found the remaining little blue eggs with holes pecked in them nearby.
I suppose this isn’t as bad as having babies killed, but it still hurts. Both the bluebirds are hanging around the back yard and Mama II acts confused. Keeps flying from her perch to the nestbox and checking it.
When Mama started this clutch, there were 8 sparrows hanging around the feeders. I had trapped 7. Only one male HOSP remains and he is the culprit. He was sitting on the box when I discovered the eggs and has returned several times. He already has a new female with him. The House Sparrow Hotel remains open with a male HOSP inside as a decoy. The males are much more difficult to trap than the females.
I’m not sure how long it will take Mama to ovulate again. I’m sure she will try for another brood though. I just ordered a Gilbertson nestbox made from PVC. Supposedly HOSP’s don’t like them. I had already removed the white millet I’d had out to attract buntings. Normally I don’t feed anything but black sunflower because the sparrows aren’t fond of it, but most other songbirds will eat it.
We have been lucky in our bluebird hosting so far. This is our fifth season and our first casualties from sparrows. But, it just takes a moment and a brood or the adults can be killed. In a day or two I’m going to post more about what to do to prevent bluebird deaths from sparrows.
Visit my flickr stream to see more nature pics http://www.flickr.com/photos/reddirtpics/
2013 Second Brood Summary:
- First sign of nest building 05 May
- Nest completed 10 May
- First egg 12 May
- Second egg 13 May
- Third egg 14 May
- Fourth egg 15 May
- Fifth egg 16 May
- Incubation begins 17 May
- All eggs destroyed 19 May