questions from a new landlord- sparrows!

Welcome to the internet's gathering place for Purple Martin enthusiasts
Post Reply
birdwatcher
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2018 12:35 pm
Location: Connecticut Shoreline

We have a house for 4 pairs- (Birds choice- Water's edge). LOADS of birds came- not enough units if they all would have wanted to nest! (we just put up another 6 unit house so that it is ready for next year and so that any birds scoping out for next year see it!) We had 3 Martin nests and one sparrow nest. We tried shooting- not having much luck. Removed the nest numerous times, even tried removing nest, and cracking the eggs on the bare floor which was suggested. We finally gave up since we didn't want the sparrow to attack the martin babies. The martins seem to be gone- although we have seen a single Martin on the house several times over the last week. Since most Martins are gone- what should we do NOW to work on the sparrows- or should we wait until just before next season? Should we lower the houses or block the entrances now- or will that discourage single Martins looking now for next year? Thanks for any advice!
C.C.Martins
Posts: 1308
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- Visitors.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021- 28 pair. 118 fledged
Home colony: mix natural, super and excluder gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satellite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mini castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021: 10 pair, 30 fledged
PMCA member

Sparrows are a very smart, aggressive bird. Quite successful too...to the detriment of native species and martin land lords health. If the martins are gone, may consider a few traps in the house to catch the sparrows even though they may not be interested in nesting, BUT may return to roost there at night.
I'd suggest an aggressive approach. Trap all year, use repeating ground traps all year and nest box traps when they are looking for a place to call home. There are a number to choose from. Put food (white millet seeds, white bread even popcorn) in ground traps especially fall and winter. Spring and summer they like white feathers.
Nest box traps you can buy from PMCA, they work great. You can also buy van ert insert or Huber traps and make your own nest box. Place them in your yard where you think would be best to attract them. Mine are right under the eves of the house but will place some on a pole I can move around.
Finally, shoot them. Get a good straight shooting pellet gun, sight it in until you can hit a ping pong ball size target. Bbs are just not as accurate and if you miss, the bird remembers and its even harder. Wad cutter pellets are good, but go with whats recommended for the weapon. Lots to consider there, my pellets are a bit heavy as I don't want the loud crack to alert neighbors.
They (sparrows, not neighbors) are smart, if they see you, they are gone, some folks (me too) have a small blind i shoot from...its a range of about 10 feet right into a feeder just for them. Some waiting involved.
As far as the nest box and ground traps do a search in "advanced" and type in nest box trap or repeating ground trap. Lots of tips on how to make them better from very experienced landlords. Do another search for Mary dawnsong, she was a wealth of information and very supportive of folks like us.
Your choice to leave the sparrow nest alone at that point was a good one...I read about the smashed eggs too, didnt appeal to me only because I would not be able to tolerate them laying eggs and getting that far along.
You can make a big dent in their population, just have to keep after them.
If the martins are visiting still from time to time id keep it in place. No rush, sparrows will keep coming but now that you are armed with info perhaps can tailor some of it to take care of them...give them no rest...no off season for sparrows.
I wish you luck my friend, keep after the sparrows it will only help your colony grow.
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
scottfreidhof
Posts: 270
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:13 am
Location: Kentucky/Morehead

Hey birdwatcher if there are currently lots of house sparrows hanging around in general, maybe bunches of recent fledglings, my strategy is to capture them in a walk-in ground trap. You can eliminate a lot of future competition now by removing the recent fledglings - and they are easy to catch compared to the adults. The trap I use functions the same as a minnow trap. The birds enter through a funnel and then cannot find their way out, at least not right away. An important rule when trapping is to monitor the trap every 5 minutes or so. You will want to remove sparrows frequently before they find that opening to escape. If you have to run an errand, even a short one, pull the trap up and re-set when you return home. You will only need to trap for an hour or two at a time when you are home. This is a war of attrition - catch a few at a time until they stop showing up. Pre-bait the trap site before trapping in an area where the sparrows like to hang out already. Maybe under some shrubs or in my case the back deck was perfect. Once they find the bait and are comfortable feeding there go ahead and set the trap. I use generic mixed bird seed as bait. C.C. Martins made some good bait recommendations too.

A second strategy is to set up 2 to 3 bluebird nest boxes in your yard any time between now and March. House sparrows are suckers for those boxes and will claim them in late winter before the martins return. Once a male house sparrow is sitting on top of the box singing and entering and exiting the box often, set an insert trap to catch him. Mornings are best as far as activity around the box. The deluxe insert trap for wooden bluebird houses that is sold by PMCA is a good one - has served me well for years. I trapped 6 and shot 2 house sparrows from my three bluebird boxes this spring and did not have to worry about sparrows nesting in the martin gourds.
C.C.Martins
Posts: 1308
Joined: Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:15 am
Location: Corpus Christi Tx
Martin Colony History: 2016- Visitors.
2017- 5 pair. 15 fledged
2018- 18 pair. 85 fledged
2019- 17 pair. 81 fledged
2020- 25 pair. 111 fledged
2021- 28 pair. 118 fledged
Home colony: mix natural, super and excluder gourds, enlarged compartment house. All SREH.
Satellite colony: Oso Bay Preserve: 12 PMCA excluder gourds, 6 room trio mini castle with enlarged compartments.
2019: Visitors
2020: 3 pair, 11 fledged
2021: 10 pair, 30 fledged
PMCA member

Quite right! Its important to reduce their numbers. Their range is a little more than a mile and a half I think. A combination of trapping strategies will work great.
I'm partial to those nest box traps too, PMCA sells them, can reduce the hole size to 1 inch and a quarter. Sparrows can't resist.

I'm going to try the wire sparrow trap nest year, ST 1. Read that if you tear the nest out can place some in the ST 1 just under the house mounted to the pole, they try to retrieve the nesting material and done!

The blue bird landlords are as dedicated as martin landlords, they have some good tips.
Tom
PMCA member, believer in nest checks, venting, SREH and pest/predator protection.
Post Reply