Killer Sparrows on Rampage Today

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Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 648
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

It was a bad day. The sparrows are everywhere.
From one of the barn swallow nests, eggs have been appearing broken on the patio. I thought maybe it was a youngster born last year that was doing the damage but never saw one. Today I first heard and then saw a sparrow in the barn swallow nest.
I checked the wren nest earlier today after I noticed a sparrow looking into it. He flew away before I could do anything about getting him. All was fine. We left for a few hours this afternoon and when we returned, all the eggs were on the ground broken. She is no where to be seen.
I am just sick. This all within a week or so of finding a dead titmouse still sitting on her eggs in her nest. Something had attacked her. I'm guessing what it was and she never left her eggs. She stayed there and died defending them.
I'm considering taking down all my nesting boxes. I can't stand by and encourage the song birds to build and then see the destruction that the sparrows cause.
I'm just hoping my one martin pair will hang in there and keep these killers out of their nest. I will keep doing all I can to get rid of them but it almost seems like an impossible battle at this point. Tomorrow I will let them build to their heart's content in the gourds they have been trying to take over and then I'll try the glue trap once they are full.
As you can tell, I am very discouraged right now.
Sharon
Sigundo

I feel for you, I'm convinced they are just plain EVIL (starlings are bad, but I don't consider them evil as such, though I still shoot them any opportunity, but don't enjoy it, like I do with sparrows). I've read something about "sparrow spookers" involving hanging loose monofilament line, but I think that's more a preventative nesting thing and probably wouldn't stop a rampage.

I have kicked about an idea of poisoning some bird seed and then setting it out only when I could watch it constantly, chasing off songbirds before they could land but allowing sparrows... maybe even bread instead of seed as sparrows seem to like bread (and starlings and oops.. Grackles, but of course I'd scare the grackles off being a protected bird).

I hope your martins get through this ok, but if the barn swallows fell, I dunno what a martin could do to stop it.
Guest

If you are in an area free of neighbors, perhaps it would be in the best interest of all of your songbirds that you shoot on sight any and all HOSP you can find.

I'm not sure how well psychological warfare would work on a HOSP population, but it might be worth trying the following: shoot or otherwise kill a HOSP, and then shove the dead body into an active HOSP nest.
bbillyc
Posts: 144
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2006 12:43 pm
Location: Winnipeg

I gave up on traps and other repeating traps I had constructed. I have found the sparrows are just too smart. I have just resorted to shooting them with an air rifle now. I also found that if you shoot at them and miss they are immediately wise to you and stay away from the nest if they think you are around, but the second a PM shows up they attack in groups. This year I purchased a smaller (legal in Canada) caliber air rifle .176 pellet size, single break, and put a scope on it. I spent an hour or so sighting it in so that it doesn't miss. All sparrows that come to the house now are new and don't know me.....and never do. We have a cat that acts like a retriever..he must think he's in heaven...
Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans John Lennon
Guest

Your wren boxes should have 1" holes I think, which will exclude sparrows. That'll solve part of the problem at least.

Ian
~Patrick~
Posts: 537
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2006 6:42 pm

Sharon,

I know how you feel. I absolutely hate house sparrows. I know you're discouraged, but look at this way. If you take your boxes down, the birds will move on to someone else's boxes who won't even know to try to protect them. At least if you're trying, you might eventually have a safe haven in your yard for things to come nest in. Make some huber-style nestboxes and place them around your yard to trap the sparrows. They're easy to make and effective. I don't know what kind of martin housing you have, but try nestbox insert traps for them. Try live bait traps and shooting if you can. You're exactly right, it is overwhelming but I'm determined not to let those introduced pests get the better of me or any native birds that are nesting within my realm of protection. Good luck and let us know how it's going.

Patrick
Sigundo

Oh yes.. almost forgot. Winter is a GREAT time to keep killing sparrows. Lots of people only kill them during the martin "season", but every pair you kill in the winter is probably 5 times what you'd have to kill next year.

My first year was pure hell, neighbors probably thought there was a shooting range nearby, but each year since has been less and less of a sparrow problem (though they are still around). I know I couldn't have made even a perceptible dent in the population, but maybe they have just learned that my yard is not a safe place for them. (martins, doves, redwinged blackbirds, house finches, goldfinches, bluebirds, robins, tree swallows and assorted others on the other hand seem to have learned it is a very safe place).

Now if I can only get the martins to quit harassing the poor innocent TS, we'll have a bird utopia here....
Donnie Hurdt MN
Posts: 1721
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2004 11:14 pm
Location: North Prairie, MN

I garee with what was said by the others. Sparrows and starlings are smart and will learn where it is not safe. last year at this time I had killed over twenty starlings and several sparrows this year three starlings dead and one sparrow. I have two s/s traps up and neither have caught anything.
PMCA member and Martin fanatic....
2011 A pair of subbies fledged three young but none returned in 2012 :-(
2015 One Pair of subbies came and stayed a few nits but got chased away by Bluebirds and Tree swallows. :-(
2017 0ne pair of subbies nested and fledged 4 young
2018 Tree Swallows AGAIN chased away any martins that wanted to nest :evil:
2019 Same old story................ :-(
stan davison
Posts: 715
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2005 7:48 pm
Location: Tulsa Oklahoma

I use the Spare O Door on both trio houses. For a while i was getting up to 10 sparrows a day. They have thinned out a bit and i can usually go up to a week without any on my houses. I will trap sparrows for the rest of my life and it still won't put a dent in their numbers. Scary.
John Miller
Posts: 4776
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:11 pm
Location: St. Louis, MO

Sharon

Have you been trapping or just near tear outs. I think tear outs do more harm than good as the season progresses and the male sparrow's testosterone rises.

Sparrows are so frustrating. I also get frustrated with myself at some sites (I'm involved in several) for gettting frustrated. I don't want to be like one landlord I see along Interstate 44 in Missouri. He's got duct tape on an S&K house (has for years). So the house is right out there for a few thousand motorists a day to see that he's given up. I wish he'd take it down.

If you can't successfully trap, may I suggest just letting the sparrows progress in a few gourds/compartments to keep them occoupied, and then adle their eggs so they don't hatch.

John Miller
Mary Wilson-SW Ont
Posts: 218
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 6:24 pm
Location: Leamington Ontario

Sharon, please don't take down your nestboxes. Patrick is right ... you (a caring bird person) will eventually provide habitat and nesting sites that are very safe for your native birds. If you take down your boxes, those birds must go elsewhere, perhaps to someone who doesn't care as you do. Any effort you make is to the good.

John, a couple years ago, as an experiment and also because I was worried about sparrow revenge syndrome at a location we manage that is always overrun with sparrows, I took a needle and pierced sparrow eggs 2 or 3 times, deep into the inside. I don't know if "addling" is different, but I had read that air going into the egg would make them bad, yet the sparrow would continue to sit them for a time. However, to my absolute amazement, some of those eggs hatched. So, I don't know about addling, but piercing is not a sure-fire way of preventing egg hatch.
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 648
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

John and everyone,
Thank you for the replies. Just to let you know where we are in the process: Hubby is on the bandwagon this weekend since he saw the devastation the sparrows made. We DO shoot and trap, shooting being the method of choice. The problem began a few days ago when I missed while trying to shoot a sparrow. They are on the back side where I cannot see them or even shoot them while they are at the nest. If I could get rid of that couple, I think we can start to get a handle on things. Like I said, hubby is now on the bandwagon and on the lookout. I think it finally made an impact on him when he saw what they did to the wren nest. He loves the barnies too and after seeing what they did to the wren eggs and seeing them go to the BS nest, is now committed because he realizes that is what has been happening to the BS eggs as well. I guess you have to really see it to realize how bad it can be. I was feeling a little guilt after having shot some of the sparrows, but no more after what they have done to our birds. It is now personal!
We have the ST-1 trap set up and have a sparo-door in a gourd but I don't think it is very effective. The HS went in and out of it and it didn't shut. It is not reliable. We need to get something else for one SG. What is the best trap for a SG?
After reading the thread about the glue traps, we are going to try and catch the smart pair by letting them go ahead and fill up a gourd with another nest (and yes I have been tearing out nests). No matter which way I try to approach them to shoot, they are on to me. But we will get them. If I can keep my wits about me and take more time to aim, I think I will be able to get the new ones that show up that don't have the experience of having been shot at and missed here.
I'm going to do some more reading on the different traps offered for different housing. I have the quad pod unit and I don't believe there is anything available for them. But that isn't where the sparrows are going anyway. My gourds are Troyers HZ with the WDC entrances. That is what the the sparrows seem to love. The one SG is the best gourd I think I have to use a trap in.
Will let you know how it goes. I'm tired of cleaning up eggs. So far the ASY martin pair are very diligent about protecting their nest. The wren house that was ravaged was not far from where the martin house is and I know they probably saw it all.
Sharon
Mary Wilson-SW Ont
Posts: 218
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 6:24 pm
Location: Leamington Ontario

Sharon, we have round holed SGs and I can recommend their insert trap. It is very sturdy, I believe it comes three to a package. We have trapped many starlings and sparrows with them over the years and like them so much that we bought an extra pack for 6 all together - we can now put traps in one entire level of our central goud rack when the starlings come through. I recently found another use for it. We had a very persistent pair of starlings which were chasing all our martins away from all three of our gourd racks. Normally we can get them all with our insert traps, but one was fixated on the gourd rack and nothing else would interest him. I had an old wooden box in the basement that wasn't really a good nestbox - so I drilled a big 2 inch hole in it, took the plate off the SG insert trap, and made a simple wire contraption to go inside this box. It worked perfectly, we got our starling, and the box is still up on the back gate - in case any other starlings happen by ! The SG insert traps, available from PMCA, are well worth the cost - they will last a lifetime.
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 648
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

Mary,
I have looked on the PMCA shop for the SG insert traps you mention and cannot find them. Can you direct me to where they are? Maybe I'm seeing them but not if you know what I mean :-).
Thanks for your help.
Sharon
Mary Wilson-SW Ont
Posts: 218
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 6:24 pm
Location: Leamington Ontario

Hi Sharon, I just looked as well and cannot see them! It was several years ago that we ordered our second set, but I would think they would still be available. I looked in bird traps and online-shop bird traps - can't think of any other place they'd be. I'll post a question about where they are, hopefully you can get some because I really think they are great.
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 648
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

Mary,
Thank you for following up on the inserts. I saw your other note on them.
Sharon
Glen Webb Jr
Posts: 478
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2004 1:03 pm
Location: Illinois/Stewardson

I have never had success with trapping sparrows in a SuperGourd using the insert trap. They are too lightweight to trip the shutter. Works like a charm on starlings, but for sparrows I shoot and trap in bluebird boxes. Never a good idea to miss if you're shooting as they catch on the first time and it is very difficult to catch them. Personally, sparrows are easier for me to get rid of. Starlings disgust me. Fortunately I've not had starling problems for several weeks now. But now the sparrows are everywhere. Keeping up with helping the tree swallows and bluebirds is a big chore. As far as the martins go, I can pull my vehicle up close to the gourds and shoot the sparrows from there.

Yes, never get discouraged and take down your birdhouses. Those poor little native guys need everyone's help. I've seen too many deaths and broken eggs because of house sparrows and starlings and that's from my own heavily managed site. Imagine what all goes on in the true wild lands where people dont' manage areas. Think of all the titmice, chickadees, bluebirds, swallows, woodpeckers, etc. that lose their life or young to S&S every year. I will never give up on eradicating those pests.
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 648
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

Glen,
I hear you. You're sure right about missing them the first time. And that is one of the problems I am having right now!
I think another barn swallow couple have abandoned their nest :-(. She had eggs and rarely left the nest. Neither of them are in it today. I don't see any eggs on the ground but that stinker sparrow that has been robbing eggs seems to drop them all over. I even found some on top of the martin baffle. They were NOT martin eggs (thankfully). They had brown specs on them. What I don't understand is the one barn swallow pair just sit back and watch the sparrow in their nest, never trying to drive it away. The martins are being very diligent about chasing it away thankfully.
We did take down the nest box that had the wren eggs in it that the sparrow got but the hole was a larger one. We replaced it with a regular wren box with a small hole. So I'll keep at it. I don't know if I'll ever win the battle but I plan to try.
Thank you everyone one for your help.
Sharon
Sigundo

I think its that the martins, swallows, etc can only defend their nest by intimidation of the sparrows. If they act tough, they are tough. Once the bluff fails, however, the sparrows definately have the advantage of advanced weaponry (sharp seed cracking beak vs blunt bug catching beak).

The sparrows, being EVIL, are also much more aggressive, and like I said, have the beak to back it up. My first year I had a male sparrow that took weeks to finally slip up. By then he had pecked 2 nests of martin eggs and harassed all my martins.. they tried to keep him out and often succeded by shear numbers, but then he'd make a short flight from just under the martin house and get inside the cavity before the martins could turn to catch him. Once inside, they could not get at him.

I finally was able to shoot him, and the female flew off.. after that I've had sparrows off and on, but get them a lot easier and have not lost any more eggs. Some sparrows are just much tougher than the ordinary, and you have one of those in your yard it sounds like. Keep at it, maybe even put out some food that will lure him down (though during the nest building phase, food is lower priority, but still might work).
Guest

I set out glue traps all weekend. I'd sit on the patio, wait for the martins to take flight, and set out a glue traps covered with a handful of milo and millett seed on the most frequent landing spots.

I set out glue traps in corners of our back yard gazebo, where they've built their nests in the rafters, too.

Caught bunches of 'em; I thought I'd feel some angst over it, but after watching the sparrows latch onto the underbellies of the martins in flight I got over that in a huge hurry.

Thanks to John Barrow for the tip.

I kept careful watch and never had a martin one land on the traps because I was vigilant. I swear the martins were cheering me on from the sky.

The glue trap patrol starts again tonight at about 6pm when I get home....and that, combined with this weekend's purchase of a .410 with light game shot is going to take down a few vicious sparrows I swear to heaven.

SarahBell
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