Just when I thought my disdain for HOSP’s couldn’t get any larger, it has. I appreciate almost every one of God’s creatures except these ornery little boogers. I’d rather have rattlesnakes in the yard. But, from a pragmatic standpoint, they are just something that bluebird hosts have to manage. It’s probably unrealistic to think you won’t suffer a loss from them at sometime or another.
Here is the CliffsNotes on sparrow control straight from http://www.sialis.org/hosp.ht
QUICK TIPS: Successful bluebird landlords do not tolerate House Sparrows (HOSP), which are non-native nest site competitors. In my opinion, it is better to have no nestbox at all than to allow House Sparrows to breed in one. The combination of methods I recommend most highly are:
- Do not feed cracked corn, millet or bread. Switch to black oil sunflower, thistle and safflower instead.
- Use a Magic Halo at feeders.
- Try Gilbertson PVC nestboxes, as they are least preferred by HOSP. (Make or purchase)
- Hang monofilament on nestboxes early in the season (carefully).
- *For backyard boxes or small trails: if you do nothing else, put a sparrow spooker on top of the box after the first bluebird egg is laid (provides 24/7 protection for eggs, nestlings and adults.) Remove it after fledging so House Sparrows don’t get accustomed to it.
- Systematically remove nests and eggs that you are sure are House Sparrow nests every 10-12 days, or addle eggs.
- Trap early and often. Although trapping is not for everyone, it is the most effective long term solution.
- Adult HOSP, nests, eggs and young may be destroyed under U.S. federal law. Humanely euthanize trapped birds. Relocating them only relocates the problem, and in some states a permit is required. If you cannot bring yourself to euthanize (see accounts of HOSP attacks before deciding – warning, graphic photos), at least trim their wings.
- Consider not putting boxes up at all in HOSP territory – try other areas instead.
Another good source of information on HOSP control is the North American Bluebird Society. Go directly to that section http://www.nabluebirdsociety.org/PDF/FAQ/NABS%20factsheet%20House%20Sparrow%20Control%20-%208Sep12.pdf
The repeating trap in NABS fact sheet is a photo of mine. I’ve trapped two more male HOSP’s since the eggs were destroyed and thought that was all of them, but another male has appeared in the yard. HOSP control is just an ongoing practice in the successful hosting of bluebirds.
I wish all an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. Please keep my fellow Oklahomans who have suffered much recently in your thoughts. Visit my flickr stream to see more nature pics http://www.flickr.com/photos/reddirtpics/