I haven’t had any sparrow problems this year– until now. There has been only one pair of sparrows around the yard this season and they haven’t shown any interest in the box as a nest site, nor bothered the bluebirds. But yesterday a second pair showed up and the male repeatedly entered the box with the nest in it, despite the bluebirds chasing it every time they saw it. Had there been eggs or babies inside, the HOSP would have destroyed them. So out comes the House Sparrow Hotel baited with fine white millet, a favorite of sparrows. The second pair of sparrows is no longer a threat to the bluebirds.
I may have lured the sparrows into the yard with millet in a feeder. I put up a feeder with millet only during May to attract migrating Painted and Indigo Buntings. So far I’ve only had one female bunting on it, but several cowbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds. They were stressing the bluebirds, who regard them as threats and dive at them. So I put up a caged feeder so the goldfinches and buntings can still feed, but the larger birds can’t get to the feed.
I can’t over-emphasize the need for a continuous sparrow control program for backyard bluebird boxes. HOSP are associated with human structures, seldom found out in the woods. If we lure bluebirds into our yards for our amusement, we should protect them from the mayhem of marauding sparrows. It’s going to happen, it’s only a matter of time.
Some eye candy in the form of a male Painted Bunting. Have seen several east of the house.
Click photos to enlarge.
Visit my bluebird album on flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/reddirtpics/sets/72157627747745082/
Total bluebirds fledged from this nest site since 2009 is 53.
Second 2014 Brood Summary
First sign of nest building 14 May