This post has been revised with breakthrough information on eliminating House Sparrows from your nesting boxes. It was initially posted in 2017, and revised on 3/6/2023.
The House Sparrow is perhaps the most adaptable and prolific bird species on the planet. Often called English Sparrow, its scientific name Passer domesticus is Latin for small, active bird belonging to the house. It is native to Europe and has spread to all corners of the world. Its adaptation follows human civilization. Where there are people, there are House Sparrows.
House Sparrows are about six inches in length and are cavity nesters. They are about the same size as Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows. That’s why they all compete for nest boxes. Make certain your boxes have an entry hole no larger than one and a half inches in diameter. If larger, another invasive, non-native, European bird, the European Starling, will invade the box.
The House Sparrow is Not Native to North America
This bird is not native to North America. It is an aggressive species that will take over the nesting sites, territories, and food sources of native birds. Therefore, it is an invasive, non-native species that is very difficult to manage. For a more detailed description of the bird, go to this link at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
House Sparrows Attack and Kill Native Nesting Birds
I opened one of our nest boxes some years ago to find a House Sparrow sitting on her eggs. She quickly flew away. Something was unusual. She built her nest on top of a Tree Sparrow nest. I removed the aggressor’s nest, tossed it on the ground, and crushed the eggs. Underneath the nest was a dead female Tree Swallow. The attacking beak of the aggressor had crushed her head. The Tree Swallow’s eggs were still intact. How horrible a death.
For more information on House Sparrow attacks and management of this invasive, aggressive bird, visit the Sialis website; they have much more detail.
Identification of House Sparrow Nests and Eggs
Their nests are easy to identify. They always have a “dome” or roof over the nest and feathers in them.
The presence of the dome in a nest box is a tell-tale sign that it is the aggressor’s nest. The nest material is rather “trashy,” made up of all kinds of material, including various feathers.
The eggs are dark brown and white speckled.
How to Save the Lives of Native Cavity Nesting Birds
We continue to learn . . . after decades of monitoring Blue Bird boxes, I have the following conclusions about saving the lives of our native birds from the murdering, aggressive, non-native House Sparrow. Try these techniques if you find the aggressors nesting in your nesting box.
- Move the floor of the nesting box to within 3 inches of the bottom of the entrance hole. This has been 100% effective for me.
- Install a “Hugh’s slot box.”
- Move the box away from House Sparrow infested areas.
- Trap and destroy House Sparrows. Yes, there are some ethical issues here. Go to the Sialis website for details.
- Remove House Sparrow nests with eggs and destroy them. Very effective but time-consuming.
- Replace House Sparrow eggs with wooden ones. This may work the first year, but they figure it out.
Replace House Sparrow Eggs With Wooden Ones
If you find a dome-shaped, trashy nest with eggs in your nest box, carefully remove them and replace them with similar-sized eggs made of wood. The parents will sit on them, possibly the first season, and never hatch one. However, the aggressors will eventually figure it out, and one study conducted by Sparrow Swap concluded that this technique would delay House Sparrow egg-laying by about ten days.
Hopefully, your nest boxes will be occupied by our native birds, such as Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, and Carolina Chickadees.
© Robert N. Whitescarver 2017, revised April 5, 2020, and again today.
Yikes. These little guys are all over my bird feeders. And here I was thinking they were sweet …
Yikes is right Kimberly!
In 1963 the Bronx zoo has a exhibit call the most dangerous cruel destructive and ignorant animal of all. When people when to see who was the animal inside of the cage it was a mirror. Never ever in the history of this planet one bird cost the extinction of the another birds the only animal who are capable to do so are humans .
Invasive species routinely cause extinctions – and have been long before some colonist imported his first Cane Toad. Eastern Blue Birds used to be as common as robins, and the main cause of their near-extinction was losing their nesting sites to House Sparrows and European Starlings. I used hang out with bird watchers in the 80s and I’ve seen an Eastern Blue Bird exactly once.
But you are also right – can you guess how both of these invaders got to the US? Yep, imported intentionally in the late 1800s by a bunch of morons known as the American Acclimatization Society.
And its true that it was also humans who saved bluebirds. The only reason Eastern Blue Birds exist today is because people organized across this country to provide them with nesting sites. So glad to read about this slot box bird house – should make helping them much easier.
Sue, thanks for your comments. I hope you see more Eastern Bluebirds.
Sue, your response is spot on, but you’ve wasted your time on her. Liz is of the type so self righteous that she could never believe herself even slightly misguided. Fortunately not everyone is so closed minded to the possibility of bad players in the animal kingdom. I been feeding birds for a while and picking off House Sparrow whenever the opportunity presents itself, but now I’m thinking I’ll add slot boxes to my properties in the spring.
I think the point of Sue’s comment was to say that most invasive species are, in fact, caused by humans. If people hadn’t travelled from Europe to America, those little guys and other destructive birds wouldn’t have been able to come here. You also have to remember that the House Sparrow and European Starling are just doing what they have learned to do to survive. From a biological sense, they are really quite remarkable. They are simply doing what the have adapted to doing. Where I live, the only bird that builds a nest of similar size is the House Finch, but they are tree nesters, so I have never seen them get overtaken by anything other than Brown-Headed Cowbirds. However, I have only ever seen the house sparrow nest in little nooks, places that act almost like cubbies. This is to say (and I am no expert, I’m just a 16 y/o hobbyist) maybe having bird boxes is not the best idea? Yes, they do make for easy monitoring stations and can help protect smaller species from threats like nest sabotages and predators. I don’t know that our ‘help’ is all that helpful to them.
Paul, Liz IS correct. The human species is indeed the most destructive. We have over 8 billion of us on this planet. We take up every bit of space we can to put up our housing, places to play, and store all our collected junk. We fracture habitats and because we are global movers, we are responsible for most if not all of the transport of non native species to new lands over the last hundred years or better. We don’t know how to live in harmony with the rest of this planet bent on commanding it to suit only our will. Liz is so right to point that out. We as a species need to do something about our urban sprawl and over population.
Donna, thanks for stopping in with your comments. I agree with you.
You’ve made many good points.
I would only add that, since house sparrows, in particular, are an invasive and destructive species here in the US, that more emphasis and awareness needs to be implemented in every community, and, where ever local city and town ordinances permit, hunting these malicious species should be actively and openly encouraged and promoted.
If they can spray for mosquitoes because of the harm they pose, so too, should these nasty birds be on the chopping block!
Only then will we ever hope to get a handle on this true and insidious threat to the natural eco-system these invaders threaten!
I agree with your general point that humans are the most destructive animals on Earth. We’re also the only animals who kill out of pure anger or pride. But invasive species of birds or other animals can definitely cause endangerment, if not extinction, of anorher species. And if you don’t think sparrows will straight-up murder bluebirds or other birds and take over their nest, do some searching on YouTube for people who had a camera set up in a bird box when a sparrow came along.
Wow, I could not have said it any better liz.
I have snowball bushes hydrangeas next my front door all up and down the lot these little guest nested in them all summer in va well isn’t it time for them to fly or will they tay and how can I help them survive O yes mam indeed keep on planting trees bushes it helps them survive I highly recommend ever greens now I’m just a home body and not sure of any of my recommendations to be fact but only comen sense to me
I’ve yet to find a way to keep these exotics away from my feeders. Maybe I need to put up a kestrel box. Birds aren’t their preferred food but they occasionally go for sparrows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kn8fW0vhE0
Good idea, Bill. We let them nest in boxes near the house and check them for eggs. Once they lay eggs, we destroy the eggs and the nest.
Bill- Maybe not a full cure but try using 100% black oil sunflower in your feeder. The house sparrows tend to prefer the millet seed. Good Luck.
Good info, Bobby! I knew they were non-native, but didn’t know they were so aggressive.
Thanks for sharing. Happy Easter!
You are welcome, Beth. Thanks for stopping in.
Aggressive little bird, perhaps they are descendants of the dinosaurs. Thank-you for the education. I will let our cats know who to target (just kidding). Good article.
Ha! good one Charlie. They are indeed descendants from dinosours.
Yep, we’ve got them in SouthAfrica
Derek, they are indeed in ZA. Thanks for stopping in.
oh, it’s tree swallows we have in our bluebird box! I was thinking they were swifts, because they don’t have the forked swallow tail. thanks! one is always standing sentinel on the top of the box. they’re so beautiful and brave and seem unconcerned by our getting close to them. there are house sparrows nesting not 10 feet away. trying to see whether I’m capable of murder..
Roni, thanks for your note. Yes, Tree Swallows are way cool. They mate for life and the same birds will return to the same box. They are one species that is expanding their range.
My friend had bluebird parents constantly defending their birdhouse nest in their yard last year. I described to her to shoot the sparrows if she had BB gun. Felt sorry for the bluebirds.
This is an important post, Bobby, thanks! I am part of a group from the Rockingham Bird Club that maintain the bluebird nesting trail at the fairgrounds. We check every week during nesting season and regularly pull these nests and eggs. Messy, aren’t they? The bluebirds are doing very well out there. Of the 7 boxes, at least four regularly fledge birds, and often twice a summer. Cheers, Anne
PS. I saw them in Tanzania also!
Anne, thanks for your update and thanks for monitoring the boxes. Yes, they are messy. They are one species that has expanded to the whole globe except the poles.
Great article ! And yes I learned the hard way with my nesting boxes put two of them up and some chickadee’s nesting in both and was very happy about that always try and help the chickadee’s but didn’t put a hole reducer on the boxes because I didn’t really think house sparrows were around my property and of course came home to dead chickadee’s in both boxes and felt terrible. It’s also important to mention that if you rip the sparrow nest out they will always take it out on the closest nest box to them it’s best if you don’t trap then oil all the eggs and put them back that way they don’t hatch.
Just clean out a nest in one of my bluebird houses! 5 eggs! With blue jay feathers
Thanks for your comment Jane. And thanks for destroying those eggs!
We had a beautiful nest of Cardinals that I was looking forward to the babies. A Blue Jay destroyed the eggs…..now I chase the jays away. Love my birds but jays….no!
We had a family of Blue Birds 2 years ago but could not find an opening to clean it out. Bought a new one but it remained empty. Very sad because they were the bluest this year!
Great post and images! Milan and I are monitors for the 132 box Blandy Shenandoah Audubon Bluebird Trail and we also have a short 4 box trail here on our property. We have found some methods that are better than just destroying the House Sparrow (HOSP)eggs and removing the nest…all that seems to do is rile the HOSP up and they not only rebuild but often go on a rampage destroying nests in other boxes. We have seen heartbreaking damage to chickadee eggs and bluebird eggs as well as to adult birds.
One solution is to use slot boxes which have a slot as tall as a regular bluebird hole and as wide as the box. House Sparrows do not like these slots, and if they were to go inside, mama birds have room to escape. Thes boxes are also shorter, not as deep, and HOSP don’t have room to build that dome they they like on their nests. Since using these boxes we have had no problem here…they are also used at Sky Meadow SP.
At Blandy we have had only a few HOSP; we replace the HOSP eggs as soon as they are laid with wooden eggs and mama birds (not very bright) will sit on the wooden eggs for weeks. While are busy sitting on the wooden eggs they or the male do not bother other boxes. You can alsao chill the eggs in the refrigerator overnight, I have done this, one at a time till all were chilled. I marked each egg as I chilled them so I was sure to get them all…again the mama sat on the now not fertile eggs for weeks! This is difficult though if the nest boxes are not failry close to a kitchen, and if teh HOSP nests are numerous.
Using all these methods we have not had any HOSP hatch here or at Blandy or Sky eadows for the last few years since we implemented these methods. Number of HOSP seen has gone down dramatically.
I will send you some images and the designs for our box to your email Bobby, I don’t know how to attach here.
We do have to get that trip for you to come see us and Blandy soon!
Best to you and your readers,
Marie, thank you so much for this information and for posting. Yes, please send photos so I can forward to my friends. I can update this post with your photos. Would that be okay? We have 44 boxes here on the farm.
Yes of course that would be OK. I am delighted to help others fight House Sparrows, they can be very damaging to our native birds. A sad example of how an introduced non-native species can wreck havoc. Thanks Bobby!
Hey there. I was looking for some info on HOSP and saw your post. I would love to try your nesting box. Would you be so kind to send me the plans @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for the suggestions of using slot boxes to deter House Sparrows from nesting. Do you then drill the hole in accordance with what bird you would like to attract? I have gone out every other day to our 10 Bluebird boxes and removed nests and eggs. It’s exhausting. Last Spring when I was removing an old nest a headless Downy Woodpecker fell out. I was surprised that a woodpecker would nest in a box but there were two nests in that box.
Oh, dear. I’m so sorry you had to go through all that. There is no hole to drill for a slot box. One of the advantages of a slot box is that it gives the inside bird an escape opportunity if the murdering House Sparrow comes in. I am sorry to have to suggest that you simply take down your nest boxes and move them far away from House Sparrows until you get your slot boxes up.
Did you try the wooden eggs?
I replay to the fact that one have to know that the house sparrow is en extinción en Europa .
En general we should never import Birds or animals from one country or state .
Wow that’s great info on how to control the English sparrow . I just checked my box and sure enough they are nesting in it. That tell tail nest had three eggs in it. I am going to try the fish line trick. Although my bluebirds already have eggs. I hope that putting the line on won’t scare them. Great advice guys !!
Sally, thanks so much for your comment and for recommending the fishing line trick. I encourage you to elaborate on your experience. I have posted a link here to the trick:
hey i found a nest of what looked like a sparrow fleeing the nest and the eggs are dark. nest is cup shaped 4 eggs. the part that puzzles me…the nest is in my caged pumpkins. do you think I should destroy this nest …Wayne co. Ohio
Could you send me a picture? It’s probably a wren. Can you ID the adult? Don’t destroy the nest until we get a positive ID.
Omg !!!!!! I have a bunch here in New Hampshire. I had no idea what they were until I looked it up in my trusty bird book. We’ve never had them before but we sure do now. One has even nested in a box but no eggs. I think it’s too late for eggs since I just noticed the box had a nest in it. Now I’m upset because I have several species nesting here in the spring. Should I shoot them???
I am sorry you have them. It’s very difficult to shoot them. There are traps you can purchase.
You can not just shoot them. The law says: Since House Sparrow’s are considered a nuisance species, it is legal (in the United States) to humanely kill these birds under federal law.
In my opinion anyone that kills any animal not for food should be shot.
Indeed. Even if they’re invasive and “a nuisance”, shooting birds is inhumane. I also find crushing their eggs/nests to be a very extreme measure, but I suppose it’s a necessary step to take if you’re aiming for reproduction of native species only.
Trap and humanely euthanize.
My two blue bird boxes have Carolina Chickadees in them.
Wow! Already? That’s great.
Your post on the coprophageous house sparrow reminded me to go online and find soodome .22 scatter shot, Difficult to procure locally.
Regarding TJ’S sanctimonious response that anyone shooting something not for food should be shot, I totally agree. I’ll shoot the verminous poopwads and he can eat them.
Thanks Bobby. That’s very informative.
Got Carolina Wrens in 2 birdhouse. Saw starlings investigating purple Martin house but seems they left. I closed portion of all holes to make them half moon shape and thus much smaller. No purple Martins yet.
Thanks for your comment, Danny. Hopefully, your Purple Martins will arrive soon.
I have 13 Bluebird boxes here on our farm and last year found dead adult Bluebird and chicks in one of the boxes that had been taken over by House Sparrows. Very heartbreaking to see. So this year I purchased a simple wire trap and so far have trapped (and killed) 10 House Sparrows. I set the trap near our equipment shed, sprinkled some mixed birdseed under the trap and Started catching them immediately. Killing them tough for me but remind myself what damage they do to our native birds. Another downside to the project is keeping close watch on the trap to make sure I don’t get any ‘good’ birds in there.
Good luck to all in any efforts to get rid of the bad guys!
Very good, Ann. Thanks for your story and diligence.
I love most birds, I feed hummingbirds and Baltimore Orioles. The first several years all was well, then suddenly the sparrows were all over the grape jelly for the orioles. With their great numbers they empty the jelly dish in two hours. It is maddening.
Bill, thanks for your comment. I am sorry about those darn House Sparrows!
Animals are people too. House Sparrows are very smart and sociable, and are also very beneficial to a building by keeping nuisance insects in check
Great info. There’s 2 baby robins in the Dogwood tree In my garden. The sparrows five bomb them and the best has been torn out on the bottom. They are healthy and growing but I’m in a mission to get rid of the sparrows. My next door neighbor feeds them year round so I’ll do what I can. I’m building some of those bird houses to start.
Meant to say DIVE BOMB in above msg. Those sparrows are nasty, indeed.
Is there a feed I can suggest to my neighbors that song birds will eat that the sparrows won’t?? We have lots of these sparrows and almost no other varieties of birds.
Very sad, but there is no feed the House Sparrows will not eat. That’s part of what makes them so prolific.
I have alot of friends who are house sparrows. House Sparrow Lives Matter
Try safflower seed, we ran out recently and put mixed seed in it and they found it in a week.
I have also had success with a tube finch feeder and a halo I made.
I have had an issue with Starling and house Sparrows mostly in the winter. They eat up my chicken feed and other livestock pellets. And if course they are both hell on native sparrows. I put up a Martin house with the anti starling doors, that worked, but the English sparrows re aided a brood. The cats got them. Sad but good. I have had some visiting Western Kingbirds the last 3 years and they are awesome territorial flycatcher. and chase off the English sparrows and Starlings. I pray they come back, the smoke from the huge fires has evidently caused our birds to migrate early and millions of fly catchers, insect eaters have been found dead in New Mexico, not fattened enough for migration. Tragic.
So my question is how do I use sparrow repellant techniques that wont hurt my native sparrows?
Delia, thanks for your comments. Sad to hear about the smoke. I don’t think you will have much success at deterring starlings and the murderous House Sparrows as long as you have chicken feed and other livestock feed around. There are House Sparrow traps on the market but you will catch natives as well that you can release but this is an every single day chore. I would recommend that you not put up any nesting boxes near your livestock areas. The House Sparrows will kill the native nesting birds. We had some nesting boxes around our barns and I eventually had to move them far from the barns maybe a quarter-mile. Plus you have outdoor cats that will kill natives as well. Good luck.
I volunteer at a nature center and they have had some success putting bluebird boxes back to back on poles. The same species are unlikely to nest that close to each other, but, as is the case there, quite frequently tree sparrows will nest on one side and bluebirds on the other. Also, it is important to note that a conical predator guard is placed under the boxes to deter snakes from eating the eggs (DO NOT kill snakes – they are beneficial for reducing rodents – ticks – Lyme disease) and mice or flying squirrels from taking up residence ( bird eggs are a nutritious snack for squirrels). Good luck! Every box I’ve put up for bluebirds has been commandeered by sparrows so far. It’s a real bummer.
Thanks for stopping in with your comments, Ray.
That bluish bird in the photo of house sparrows “guarding” is very misleading as its not a house sparrow. Suggest updating if you can. A photo of the front of the female would be nice too as the back resembles lots of other friendlier birds. I have a sparrow trap and its good to start but they learn fast and others avoid it. Trapped a few dozen with ease last year. . only two so far this year. Thank you for all this!
Vicki, thanks for sharing. That’s a good point. There are other birds that do resemble the house sparrow. The female purple finch is very similar. I’ve caught other birds in the sparrow cage and needed to be careful not to harm them.
Thank you for sharing this article. When I moved here on a cattle farm in SE MN 3 years ago there were so many house sparrows it was crazy. Barely saw any other birds. I purchased a sparrow live trap 2 yrs ago. I’ve captured and killed over 200 house sparrows and I always destroy any of their nests and young/eggs. This spring I’ve noticed more native birds and maybe 20 (or at least I hope 20) house sparrows. I continue to trap them and will destroy their nests. In doing so hopefully more native birds can thrive here.
I’m happy to report we have bluebird babies that have hatched in a box in our front yard here in Mississippi. So apparently the sparrows have either stayed away or have been successfully fought off. I’ve noticed that the male and female both appear to be feeding the babies. Is that a normal thing? I assumed the mama bird always did the feeding.
The fact that you won’t understand that humans are the problem and are blaming an animal that was basically trafficked to another country for your own benefit but getting upset when they defend themselves is ugly. I can with certainty guess what side of the fence you’re on XD.
Many of the news items are relevant in the US rather than in the UK. None so more than this. In the UK the House Sparrow is much loved & its numbers are dropping causing concern. Your advice to kill them or destroy nests & eggs would be contrary to British law and I’d hate to think that someone unaware of the item referring sely to the US would mistakenly be influenced by it! I think done kind of xx warning should be given that this item does NOT apply in the UK!
Thank you, Ian. Your comment is duly noted and published.
The article explains at the beginning that the House Sparrow is not native to North America, competes with native cavity nesters, and the action items center on saving the cavity nesters. If someone has gotten to the point in the article that you’re concerned with, the context will have been set by then.
I used a sparrow cage trap and caught some but the rest figured it out so now I shoot the sparrows.
I have three bird houses I monitor with cameras inside first thing this spring a chickadee started nesting … Thought I had the correct hole restrictor but it was large enough for the house sparrow to get into and killed the chickadee.. tried with a smaller hole restrictor and this time success six eggs five hatched babies!
But what I did this time I allowed the house sparrows to nest in one of the other houses and to keep one egg…. she continued to sit on the one and it kept her busy enough for a second house full of chickadees to hatch.
I know the idea is not to allow them to breed at all but they are so territorial at least it kept them away long enough for 10 new chickadees to enter the world…
Great story. Thanks for sharing.
How to deter House Sparrows from taking over Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebirds nest boxes and killing them
A Quebec (Canada) company invented a genius way to do just that – a device they call a ‘pendulum’ which is a small metal box affixed on top of any nest box hole, and which works with the weight of the bird, in this case, the House Sparrow. The Sparrow being heavier than the Tree Swallow (or the Eastern Bluebird also – to verify), then what happens is that, every time the Sparrow tries to enter the nest box, it is automatically ejected underneath by the action of the pendulum – a very useful tool for all city birders that have issues with House Sparrows. Here is the website to order their device:
Alain, thanks for posting. Bravo!
Asking for advise! I live in Memphis and have had a group of at least 20 English Sparrows group nesting year round in a large mass of Devil’s Tulip Vines covering my two-story storage building’s roof. They love it because I also have fresh water and feed near-by. I saw doves, robins, and squirrels sharing the resources with them today. Could it be safer for the native birds because the sparrows have a permanent nest?
Deanna, I have no idea. But I wonder what material your roof is made of and what condition it is in?
Since house sparrows, in particular, are an invasive and destructive species here in the US, more awareness needs to be implemented in every community, and, where ever local city and town ordinances permit, hunting these malicious species should be actively and openly encouraged and promoted. If they can spray for mosquitoes because of the harm they pose, so too, should these nasty birds be on the chopping block! Only then will we ever hope to get a handle on this true and insidious threat to the natural eco-system these invaders pose!
I retro fitted 4 old style circle opening boxes with the open slot design.
Blue Bird and Tree Swallow’s took them.
The old style circle opening boxes had the demonic house sparrows.
I’ll watch and wait till it’s about time for them to fledge.
Warning: if you remove the nest before the blue’s and swallow’s fledge the demonic house sparrows goes on a demented killing spree. I found leaving them alone until it’s time works the best. But, don’t let the house sparrows escape.
Thank you, Joe.
Please consider updating the “How to save…” section to remove point 3 on removing the active nests/destroying the eggs, as House Sparrows may see this as competition and destroy nearby nests of other birds. If I find a nest with eggs in one of my boxes I was until dusk, approach the box from the rear, cover the entry/exit hole with my hand, and carefully open the box and capture the female House Sparrow. You can leave the nest alone for about a week and then remove it as the male typically will move on to find another mate.
Thank you, Chuck. Very helpful information.
My second group of bluebird hatchlings is about ready to leave the nest this year. I have only one nest box. I do not think I have seen a house sparrow this year around here. Am I missing something? I see one on occasion fly in the garage and they have made a nest a couple of times, but I’ve never had a problem with them.
Roger, thanks for your comment. If the House Sparrows aren’t bothering the Bluebirds I wouldn’t worry about it. You are good to go.
Bobby, thanks for the great discussion. Here in Rappahannock we don’t seem to have a House Sparrow problem in our bluebird boxes. Just get bluebirds and tree swallows. But this year we had lots of black snake predation. Many snakes got around our baffles. We are working on improving the baffle design. Be an interesting post for you to explain your experience with baffle design and what works best. Thanks. Dick
Dick, thanks so much for stopping in. We have baffles and evidently, they work. We’ve never had a snake in a box with a baffle. We do get them in the boxes without baffles.
Thanks as always for helpful advice. We are lucky enough not to have English sparrows (ah those English immigrants!!) – yet. However, I was totally distressed last month when a bear came and knocked down 2 houses, one with 5 nestling bluebirds almost ready to fledge and the other with swallows also ready to fledge.
Tomorrow, we are having the limbs removed from a mature and very dead red oak and will leave a good snag. Maybe we’ll give up on bird boxes altogether??
Carol, sorry to hear about your bear-damaged box and babies. We had one torn down as well. When I went to fix it I found the babies alive and I set the box back up.
I didn’t know house sparrows actually eliminated the competition! It sounds as if you’ve discovered the solution, and I’ve forwarded it to several folks in the Rockingham Bird Club. I hope others will do it for Staunton and Charlottesville! We have three boxes, created by a member, at Harrisonburg Mennonite Church. Did have tree swallows just once, but since then only house sparrows. We remove the nests but often lose track of their progress. This would be a huge help if it works. Thanks, Anne
Anne, thanks for sharing the information. I think this is a breakthrough. I’ve been fighting them for years.
Per your advice, Bobby. We’ve raised the floors of our bluebird houses to 3” from the bottom of the entrance hole. We also seem to have a resident falcon who’s very interested in the sparrows! Hoping the bluebirds will be able to next in peace come spring.
I found chickadee boxes at Lowes and had success right out of the gate. The entry holes are clearly smaller than a blue bird house, about one inch. Just today I saw a sparrow attempting to get inside and finally gave up, so this definitely works, at least for the chickadees.
Lynn, thanks for your keen observations and comments.