How do the sparrows know??

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Ok,I have a sparrow dilema.I have a sub male martin that has come and he goes in and out of the nests.He successfully defended the house from sparrows fine,that is until he tries to show the pad to a female martin...then all heck brakes loose.Sparrows come from all over.Do the sparrows know the difference between male and female martins?? and why do they only bother when both martins are present?This has me scratching my head and once again dusting off the pellet gun.I am afraid they will prevent the martins from setting up house.

As long as you keep shooting them and keep there nest material out of the houses you should be fine just try keeping them away from the martins I KNOW ITS TOUGH.
Emil Pampell-Tx
Posts: 6743
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 1:26 pm
Location: Tx, Richmond (SW of Houston)
Martin Colony History: First started in Gretna, La in 1969 with a small homemade house, have had martins ever since at 2 different homes in Texas

It seems to me that the larger the number of martins, the more brave the sparrows and starlings get. I think the sparrows seem more safe with 2 martins present, and then they bring their buddies. Same thing as you describe happens here.

That makes sense to me.It is just SOOOO frustrating.The male martin works so hard and when he finally gets a gal to come take a look the sparrows won't give her a chance to even get in the nest.I definitely will pick up the pace with the pellet gun and maybe with alot of luck and just the right timing I might still get a pair to finally nest here. They are the most amazing bird I have ever seen and I want a colony started so bad it just about makes me crazy!! Thanks again to both of you for the advice and insight.
John Miller
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Location: St. Louis, MO

Just keep tearing out their nests and try to trap or shoot. I used to say that no matter how long we tear out their nests, the males bond to the house and never move on during spring and summer. I'm rethinking this because I've seen a few pairs reported here, and in my efforts, giving up and moving on by June. Perhaps the males may become less aggressive by summer. Don't count on it, but something for us to consider.

John Miller

Emil Pampell-Tx wrote:It seems to me that the larger the number of martins, the more brave the sparrows and starlings get. I think the sparrows seem more safe with 2 martins present, and then they bring their buddies. Same thing as you describe happens here.

Emil, ????? More martins = more sparrows. Could you clarify?
Posts: 1889
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 11:04 pm
Location: Texas/Katy

Yes, all good points. They are relentless and you have to be too! It can be a pain and drive you crazy, but I just take a deep breath and keep up the shooting and trapping. Those S & S remind me of the fireants we have down here. They always seem to keep coming!
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Fred Kaluza~MI
Posts: 602
Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2003 10:40 pm
Location: Warren, Michigan
Martin Colony History: Tried and tried and had some visitors but...not enough good insects around here to keep them interested.

Guys, I too have witnessed similar behavior. I think one thing that makes House Sparrows so "successful" is their "intelligence". I think they make full use of the concept of "birdy see, birdy do", These guys are wise. They make use of context clues. They "learn" from indirect observation and second-hand experience. Use of indirect evidence is to me a milestone in intelligence. They are master usurpers. Instead of "wasting their time" or "risking themselves", they see another bird and think "what's that guy doing? maybe I should do it too." or "what are they eating?, maybe I should eat some too". I believe they mostly figure that if a cavity is not being investigated by someone else, it's probably not worth my time. But, let another bird discover it first and all Hell breaks loose. Another example, I will rarely see single House Sparrows hang around my feeders. More often, they come around when I've got half-a-dozen House Finches or more already there. I swear they know they're not wanted or allowed to stay. They are so wary that I believe they even use the Finches as "cover" rarely letting themselves be seen in full view towards where I usually shoot from. When perched, they will notice the height of the raised window sash and choose a spot to sit that's just around the corner or above my possible angle of fire. I know that you other experienced "hunters" have witnessed this same behavior time and time again. Has anyone ever tried taking a piece of a nylon stocking and stretching it over the lenses of your binoculars or rifle scope to lessen the "glare" that's probably perceived as a giant "all seeing eye" to House Sparrows? I've also noticed that many birds seem to be capable of discerning when a "cylinder" becomes a "ring" or "disk" meaning that the "eye" is pointed directly at them. To birds, it's not "normal" to have another creature staring intently at them. (I guess people get the willies too). They'll tolerate you much better if you appear to be distracted and doing something else. Like folding clothes on your bed, making dinner, washing dishes or pulling weeds. But, stop and gaze intently on them and they'll spook. Getting back to the original question, I'd say that again, if 10 birds are interested in something, the wise H.O.S.P. certainly doesn't want to miss out on anything. They are "gang members" with "street smarts.
Last edited by Fred Kaluza~MI on Wed Jun 21, 2006 10:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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With my two PMCA baited repeating traps, one home made tipping can repeating trap
and a pellet rifle, it?s now over a hundred sparrows have met their demise. A little over
twenty starling have taken to the trap but most of then have gone by the pellet way.

I built a 36x36x24 cage out of .5x.5 inch galvanized material from my neighborhood
home improvement store. I constantly keep at least four sparrows in it. This certainly
is a crazy idea (you all are thinking) but is working for me.

I used to place one of the PMCA baited trap near where the sparrows inside this cage were
dropping birds seeds to the ground. This trap constantly produces at least three a week.
so I incorporated one of the PMCA baited trap in this cage. This became more deadly that
I built a smaller holding cage in order to place the other PMCA trap on top of it.

At the start this was a gamble to attract them to this cage so I can eliminate them by way
of the pellet. To my amazement I have not witnessed a single sparrow on my purple martin

Yesterday while cooking our super on the grill I witnessed a male sparrow with about
ten to twelve young sparrows with it. They went straight to the two cages with sparrows
and most of them were all over the cage and some went straight to ground to feed.
I also witnessed one of then young sparrows get in the trap.

This year I have not have the pleasure of removing a sparrow nest in any of the twelve
rooms I built for the purple martins.
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