shooting sparrow with shotgun?

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jeff
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2020 9:43 am
Location: okeana ohio

Will shooting sparrows with a 12 ga shotgun scare off the PM's? My PM houses are too far away for me to hit the sparrows with a .22 rifle and I used compartment sparrow traps that worked one time and now they are too smart to enter.
thanks
randyM
Posts: 128
Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:30 pm
Location: Long Lake SD
Martin Colony History: 2006 - SY pair, unsuccessful nest attempt, 3 houses = 52 cavities

2010 - ASYM + SYF pair - male disappeared after storm, female fledged all 4 young.

2015 - Lone SYM stayed month of June...added 8 gourds = 60 cavities

2016 - 1 nesting pair (ASYM + SYF) 2/3 eggs hatched 2 young fledged.

2017 - 4 nesting pairs, 16/17 eggs hatched, 16 fledged, 16 banded - 2 banded SY returned in 2018 (12.5%), added housing: 11 houses w/gourds, 4 gourd poles = 376 cavities

2018 - 10 nesting pairs, 46/52 eggs hatched, 45 fledged, 29 banded - 3 banded SY returned in 2019 (10.3%)

2019 - 32 nesting pairs, 145/160 eggs hatched, 139 fledged - 87 banded - 12 banded SY returned in 2020 (13.8%).

2020 - 35 nesting pairs, 180/199 eggs hatched, 178 fledged - 150 banded.

How long have you had martins at your colony? If they've been established for a year or two, it should be okay to shoot a shotgun around the colony and not scare them permanently away. If they are martins new to your site I'd be a bit more hesitant shooting a gun until they are building nests or egg laying, but if you've been shooting a .22 around martins at your site without much negative reaction, again, you should be okay. I've shot 3 dozen starlings with a shotgun at my colony this year (about an average year). After I hit a starling and it drops to the ground the martins usually dive-bomb the carcass seemingly in a reactionary display of jubilation/appreciation! I typically don't have to shoot that many sparrows, as they tend to favor the bluebird/tree swallow houses I have up, and are easily trapped in such housing.
Dave Duit
Posts: 1932
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit www.iamartin.org and join.

Hi Jeff,
Maybe I read your post wrong and correct me if I need be. Are you shooting the sparrows that are near or on your martin houses ?
If that is the case, the answer would be a big no, do not use a shotgun to shoot sparrows at or near the martin houses. If you are shooting sparrows that are physically a great distance away from your martin housing, then that would be fine.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
deancamp
Posts: 672
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

On using the traps, if you let them start nesting and then insert the trap, does that work? I don't think the blast of a gun will scare them away. They will fly away when the gun sounds and then return shortly. That has been my experience. I have shot starlings setting right next to a martin with no adverse effect.
Jeff Dean
flyin-lowe
Posts: 3137
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

I have shot more sparrows than I can count with a shotgun. My housing is too far from my house to be able to hit with a pellet rifle. In the beginning the martins will flush but quickly come back. Depending on how often you shoot, sometimes I've had martins that dont fly off and some that would follow the sparrow to the ground. I never shoot the shot gun toward my T14's our good rack but I used to use a tri tell pole with a perching station on top. I would shoot them right off of that and it was 10-15 feet away from where the martins would sit. A few things I have learned is getting a shot at them the first time is important. If a new sparrow lands near my housing I can usually walk close enough to it before it gets spooked that I just shoot them in flight. If you happen to miss or don't get close enough to shoot them in flight, the next time the will fly off a lot sooner. I have quite a few trees nearby so sometimes I'll watch them land in a nearby tree and then can get close enough to shoot them from the tree. Once the leaves get on the trees they become harder to spot. I'm fortunate to be far enough from neighbors that I can shot almost any direction.
202160 nests with 187 eggs (6-3-20) HOSP count-9
2020 Currently 42 nest, Fledged approx 164 HOSP count-8
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
2018- 15 pair last count 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional lone SY's
2016 1 pair fledged 4
2015 Visitors
2014 Visitors
2013 Moved 6 miles away, 1 pair fledged 2.
2012 30 pair fledged 100.
2011 12 pair (11 that nested), 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair, 21 eggs, 16 hatched, 14 fledged.
randyM
Posts: 128
Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:30 pm
Location: Long Lake SD
Martin Colony History: 2006 - SY pair, unsuccessful nest attempt, 3 houses = 52 cavities

2010 - ASYM + SYF pair - male disappeared after storm, female fledged all 4 young.

2015 - Lone SYM stayed month of June...added 8 gourds = 60 cavities

2016 - 1 nesting pair (ASYM + SYF) 2/3 eggs hatched 2 young fledged.

2017 - 4 nesting pairs, 16/17 eggs hatched, 16 fledged, 16 banded - 2 banded SY returned in 2018 (12.5%), added housing: 11 houses w/gourds, 4 gourd poles = 376 cavities

2018 - 10 nesting pairs, 46/52 eggs hatched, 45 fledged, 29 banded - 3 banded SY returned in 2019 (10.3%)

2019 - 32 nesting pairs, 145/160 eggs hatched, 139 fledged - 87 banded - 12 banded SY returned in 2020 (13.8%).

2020 - 35 nesting pairs, 180/199 eggs hatched, 178 fledged - 150 banded.

The info I'm providing is what works for me at my site and for the design of my colony and may not necessarily be doable or recommended at other colony sites, I'm just sharing my personal experiences.

Most of the starlings (or HS) I shoot at my colony are shot in the weeks before the earliest martins arrive at my site, so 80% of the time I shoot at starlings before any martins have arrived at the latitude of my colony. However, when shooting at starlings on or near my PM housing when early arriving martins are at my site I'm keenly aware of any martins in the area and obviously don't shoot if a martin (or other non-starling/non-HS bird) is anywhere remotely near my line of fire. Each of my wooden houses (built with ~0.5" thick planks) is located between 25 and 45 yards from where I typically shoot. Each house has a wooden perching dowel 6-8 feet above the attached wooden house. I shoot the majority of starlings while they are perched on these elevated perching sites. I use a 12 gauge and shoot #7steel (occasionally #8 lead trap loads if I can't find small steel shot). On occasion each year it seems like a very wily starling or two will only perch on the ledge next to a cavity opening of a wooden house. I've tried sneaking around a corner to shoot them in the air after they take flight from the ledge, but more times than not they take flight way before I can get a shot off. So, in moderate desperation, at times I have shot some starlings (from an open window of my house) while a bird was sitting on the birdhouse ledge. These shots are taken from a distance of 25-45 yards and certainly do major damage to the starlings, but only do very minimal (cosmetic) damage to the wood housing. Some BBs do penetrate the wood planks, but only to a depth of 1/16" to 1/8" at the closest range (25 yards). The small BB holes left in the wood after a shot occur in about a 1-ft diameter, each resulting "speck" spaced an inch or two apart. For shots taken out to 45 yards, the BBs do not penetrate the wood planks and simply bounce off. At this distance a few small scuffs will occur on the housing. At the end of each season when I take down my housing I just simply apply a new coat of paint, and the tiny BB marks/holes are covered in paint and are not even noticeable. I also have multiple types of plastic gourds at my colony as well and have hit a few super gourds with stray BBs, at 25 yards, and the results are basically identical to the wood planks, where the small BBs will bounce off or penetrate 1\16" or so. I do believe more major damage would occur to plastic Heath or S & K gourds and housing (which I have at my site as well). I also would not recommend shooting a shotgun at aluminum housing from any distance.

In my opinion, I think use of a shotgun for HS/starling control is a much safer and more effective method compared to using a .22 rifle and is less likely to cause significant damage to wood housing or higher quality plastic gourds. Also, lower quality plastic gourds will likely sustain major damage if hit by BBs fired from within 45 yards.

As I said before, this system of starling/HS control works well for me at my site, setup, and situation and may not necessarily be the best method of HS/starling control for your specific site/situation. However, I've been using this same technique at my site for >10 years with only HS and starlings as casualties (100's). My same martin housing still looks and functions like new today.
Kegger
Posts: 213
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:58 am
Location: Awesome Florida
Martin Colony History: Newbie in 2020: 2 pair of SY with 4 eggs each in Troyer Horizontals
fledged a total of 7 Martins

thanks for all the useful info guys. I have neighbors very close by and would probably be payed a
visit by the sheriff if I shot Hosp with a shotgun. I do manage to take some with a pellet rifle and
traps but not enough. This year about 20 total, last year around 30 8)
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Archer
Posts: 778
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:09 pm
Location: Manitoba/Altona
Martin Colony History: six pair in 2014, have grown to 52 pairs in 2017.

In addition to what others have said. I use my car as a blind. Birds will not scare as quickly if the do not see the human form. If you pull your car into a good shooting position, is usually only take a few minutes for normal activity to start again. If shooting up is a problem, as neighbours too close, you can use your phone or other speaker and play sparrow sounds. Place your phone in a protected place near the houseing on the ground. Sparrow on the house will fly down to check out the new intruder. Don't shoot your phone, lol. Bam.
2011- first year trying, a few visitors.
2012-One ASY pair, raised two young, lots of subby visitors. So thankfull.
2013-daily subby visits.
2014-Six SY pairs
2015-18 pair, 83 fledglings
2016-36 pair, 147 fledglings
2017-52 pairs, 192 fledglings.
2018-60 pair, 246 fledglings.
2019-59 pair, 238 fledglings.
2020-62 pair.
jeff
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2020 9:43 am
Location: okeana ohio

thanks for all the replies.
My PM housings are too far for me to accurately shot sparrows with a .22. I did not know if shooting the sparrows while in flight from the housing would permanently scare off the PM's since this is a new housing site. I feel lucky to have gotten 3 pair this first year.

I have a T-14 with four gourds underneath and a round rack with 16 gourds.
Is there enough housing to not worry about the two pair of sparrows?

I have two bluebird/tree sparrow houses 40' away from the PM housings but the sparrows are not interested.

Should i keep cleaning out the nesting materials of the sparrows? It seems when I do the sparrows take up going into a different cavity.

thanks for the help
Matt F.
Posts: 3922
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Hi Jeff,
Once your Martins have started laying eggs, I would highly recommend not doing any more sparrow nest tear outs, until you've first eliminated the male sparrow of the nest your tearing out.
There is a known phenomenon first documented by landlord Steve Kroenke called "house sparrow revenge syndrome". When the sparrow nests and contents are torn out, the male sparrows will often go on a rampage and start destroying all the unguarded Martin eggs in the surrounding compartments. Landlord Mike Scully performed sparrow nest tear outs in some houses he monitored nonstop for the whole Martin nesting season. That season's Martin egg-to-fledge success rate in those houses was only 15%. The following season, on the same houses, he performed only one, pre-season tear out, and no more after that - allowing the sparrow nests to remain intact and used. This resulted in a Martin egg-to-fledge ratio of 50% - illustrating how much more aggressive and damaging the sparrows were to the Martin nests when their nests were repeatedly torn out.
Again the best way to avoid this carnage, is once your Martins start laying eggs, make sure to first eliminate the sparrows (especially the males), before tearing out the nests.
phldave
Posts: 523
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:44 pm
Location: Iowa/Pleasant Hill
Martin Colony History: Started trying in 2012 and still trying

Jeff,
One thing I have gotten good at is trapping. Once the male sparrow has paired up with a mate and they are actively dragging nesting material into the cavity, place your cavity trap and most importantly put some of their nesting material in the trap especially feathers. Keep trapping until you catch the male. If he is gone she will leave. Good luck!
2012 late start
2013 nothing yet, lots a lookers
2014 Bust again
2015 Bust again
2016 Bust again
2017 Bust again
2018 April 14 a group joined me, but moved on after a week
2019 Had SY male seriously check me out but didn't stay
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