[CT Birds] H Sparrows and BBs

Carrier Graphics carriergraphics at sbcglobal.net
Sat Aug 13 12:14:20 EDT 2011

If I might make a comment on H Sparrows and BBs........

For over 35 years, I have had BB boxes up and monitored, with over 200 in my 
town of Harwinton through the 90's, which fledged over 1,000 young into CT.  And 
through these years I have learned much about birds and their habits.

As I and Dave Rosgen will attest - the only bird we know of that actually will 
commit murder is the alien House Sparrow. While other birds will and do kill 
other birds, they do it as a predator. This is how they survive in the niche 
they are born into. Killing for food is not a murderous act. However, when the 
alien House Sparrow kills other birds, it is for territorial reasons only. They 
can not tolerate other species of birds nesting close to them, especially when 
their is only one site -  box available. 

In any confrontation between a HSp and another box nesting bird near them, the 
Sparrow will always win. They will enter the box and kill the adult sitting on 
the nest, and often with young or eggs under the adult as well. If the parents 
are gone - gathering food for the young, the HSp will enter the box, kill the 
young, and sometimes, but not often, dispose the bodies outside. More often they 
will just build their nest over the other with the dead young or eggs still 
there. The HSp has a very strong bill, and with it can dispatch just about any 
bird their size. This strong bill, and their dislike for other species in their  
territory make for a real killing machine. 

To avoid this from happening - their are some things you can do. I learned this 
from Dave Rosgen who has also been doing BBs for many years.
he suggests placing two BB boxes 18 feet apart. I usually point the two openings 
away from each other as well. If a BBird nests in one, hopefully the resident H 
Sparrow will use the other. BUT!.......................

You must monitor the boxes at least once a week! The plan is - if the sparrows 
have eggs or young, you must take them out. BUT - leave the nest! The plan is - 
the HSps will then lay a new clutch of eggs, hopefully leaving the occupants of 
the other nest - with luck - alone.

This has worked for me at least 75 plus % of the time. Also - you must always 
have a predator guard on the pole the box is on! Our goal is to have our box 
birds experience as good if not better chance of raising a brood than would be 
in nature. We want to help not hinder their chances of success. If we can't do 
this - then best not to put up a bird box.

ps - you can e mail me with any questions separately if you like.

Hope this helps......Paul Carrier - Harwinton

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