Sparrows and Starlings

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I now have 3 martins (2 male and a female) here in west central Florida. I think this is going to be a very challenging year because of all the sparrows and starlings. Every morning my gourds and my T14 are just covered with sparrows and starlings. When I am home, it's not much of a problem but my wife and I both work so I can't be chasing them off all day. I do have crescent holes on all of my compartments, although the starlings have started figuring them out. One staring got stuck trying to get out of the T14 the other day but I he got free before I could get to him. Shooting them is difficult because I live on a small 1/4 acre lot with houses on all sides. These birds are so frustrating!! In any case, I am hoping for a good year with the martins. Once the house is full of Martins, the sparrows and starlings tend to give up a bit since most of the compartments get filled with Martins.

This is my 5th year being a landlord and I still get just as excited each January when the first martin arrives!

CUL Lou~Mich

Burch. Go to PMCA Shop above, and check the dimensions of the UST, aka Universal S&S Trap. If it'll fit in your T14, you might want to get one. I've had great luck with two of these traps using them in a North Star wooden house. I'd only use it on the weekends, when they can be monitored very carefully. Also, if you have Trio housing, I believe the PMCA Shop may have SD-1s, which replace a door on them, and they are for English House Sparrows. They do a fabulous job when the EHS are looking for nesting space. You should definately get rid of as many as possible though, since they will both peck the eggs, and/or kill babies and adults. CUL Lou
Posts: 115
Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2007 9:08 pm
Location: Sugar Land, TX
Martin Colony History: 2002 -Coates metal houses- about 18 pairs
2005 - Added a gourd rack- many more pairs
2007 - Added another gourd rack, gave the Coates houses away
2008-2015 - Experimented with many gourds & a few racks (its a sickness) fledged over 200 chicks/year. Hubby keeps records, not me. :-)
2016 - 64 gourds and expect most will be occupied

I'm so sorry that you have so many starlings and house sparrows. That seems very ominous to me. Although your Martins may fight and win the battle to build the nest, the sparrows and starlings are sneaky and they are lethal to eggs and babies. Before we started trapping, we would find eggs with little holes in them and babies that were bloodied and bruised, dead or dying.

By ridding your colony of as many starlings and house sparrows as you can, you increase fledgling success rate in a huge way. I'm a bird watcher and love all birds, even the starlings and sparrows. But we trap and destroy any that hang out at our house. It is a necessary evil in my opinion and I am so happy that my dear husband feels the same as I do and does the chore for us both.
Jean S
2002 - Coates metal houses- about 18 pairs
2005-2007 - added a gourd rack, then another gourd rack = many more pairs
2008-2015 - Experimented with many gourds & a few racks (its a sickness) fledged over 200 chicks/year
2016 - 64 gourds and expect most will be occupied

I shoot them were I can, but I have to be very careful with all the houses around me. It just seems that each year I have more and more of them. I have tried using traps, but I have only gotten a couple of sparrows using them. It's almost like they KNOW that there is a trap in the compartment. I didn't have many issues with sparrows/startlings until I put up the T14. The martins LOVE the T14 but so do the other birds. My first year, I didn't have issues with sparrows or starlings but they are thick in my area now.

Posts: 1889
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 11:04 pm
Location: Texas/Katy

Also think about an S & S Controller. It is my Starling magnet. Placed correctly it will just fill up. :grin:
I'm a "nestcamaholic" Is 18 hours a day a bad thing? (I have 2 this year, luckily I have 2 eyes!)
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

Burch, trapping is so much more efficient, I used to waste so much time trying to shoot them. If you can monitor the traps daily, that is much easier than shooting
Posts: 2174
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 3:06 am
Location: Grand Prairie,Tx

Like Emil & Jean said , you need to trap,shoot and be aggressive at it, your perserverance will pay off , another trick that you can do is in the off season When the martins are not here is place mouse traps in your housing/Gourds and the S&S's will flee from your site but trapping using the S&S repeating trap works really well all season long every year and thats what i love about it.....keep after it, Hang in there and don't give up , in a little time you will have no S&S's around your PM housing or Yard to bug you.
Pictures Taken with Canon Rebel XT Digital using a Sigma 50-500 Long Lens.

Wishing everyone a Great Martin Year
Happy Martining for 2020 to everyone,

Louise Chambers
Site Admin
Posts: 6211
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 1:07 pm
Location: Corpus Christi, TX

The cool wet weather we're having right now in south TX has steered more house sparrows to our ST-1 trap, baited with white bread. I like using bread rather than seed since I think it's less likely to attract non-target birds. But even with just white bread, at times we have caught inca doves, white winged doves, mockingbirds, shrikes (after the sparrows, not the bread) and even an oriole. So traps always need to be monitored regularly. If I'm going to be away for more than an hour I close the traps before I leave, just in case.

We keep the center section of the trap, which holds the trapped birds to act as decoys, supplied with food and water - a trap with one or more birds in the center section attracts more birds quickly.

Louise :wink:
CUL Lou~Mich

Personally, I prefer the NBT that is in the Archives, (scroll way down) with directions for making one, over the S&S Controller. I've had both, and the S&S Controller is larger, while doing the same thing. There is also a person who makes them, and will also ship just the innards. If you need a name, PM me. CUL Lou
Posts: 413
Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:47 am
Location: Sugar Land, Texas

I have two PMCA repeating baited trap, a home made Nest Box repeating trap, a pellet rifle
and caged sparrows. I have this going year round. I built the sparrow cage last season and
kept six sparrows in it. Today there are three left. The winter catch has been going to my
buddy with pet snakes.

The baited traps are baited with Pennington bird seed that I put in my feeders and in the sparrow

When you talk of the frustration with starlings and house sparrows, I know exactly what you mean. Two years ago I had ten eggs destroyed by starlings. I had super gordes with cresent holes too at the time. Yes, the starlings figured out how to get in. I also had troyer gordes to which the same thing happened. The following year I put up a S&S controller trap. I trapped over 40 starlings. I have trapped 4 starlings this year of 2007. I have a repeating bait trap for house sparrows, but I haven't had any luck with it. Last year I tore a few nest out where the house sparrows tried to build in gordes and bluebird houses. Good luck.
Leslie H. Bright
Boiling Springs, S.C.
Bob Flam

I'm going to post a link to a thread from last year that might help. ... ght=#63359

And another direct link to another thread. It was included in a reply on the 1st thread...but, i'll just give you a short cut! About half way down that thread is a picture of the Mary Dawnsongs HOSPice, a martin house converted into a dedicated House Sparrow trap, her HOSPice is a Trio Grandma martin house with 8 Spare-O-Doors installed. Mary makes such great post with links, I use her post to find info some times...I doubt she'll mind. ... ght=#57681

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