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Old 12-16-2008, 06:16 PM   #1
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Default Sparrow Spookers for Bluebird Nest Boxes

For those who provide Bluebird nest boxes- sparrow spookers are actually very effective in helping deter the English House Sparrows from going in and murdering other cavity nesters and their young. It's a very simple concept actually. You take a small diameter dowell (a twig or almost anything will work) about 18" and attach it to the back of the Blue Bird nest box. To that you attach the equivalent of bicycle handle streamers. In a pinch I have used children's toy pinwheels. The timing has to be almost perfect on this. The streamers can not be added until after the first blue bird egg hatches. The drive to care for the young by the Blue Bird Mom and Dad is so strong they will go to their young to care for them even with the streamers flapping in the breeze above their entrance hole. The English House Sparrows will normally stay out of the nest box and the risk of them entering and pecking out the eyeballs and throats of any hatchlings or destroying eggs and the parent Blue Birds is reduced substantially. I swear it works but the Sparrow spooker can NOT be added until after the first egg hatches or the parents will abandon their nest box. After the babies fledge, take the Sparrow Spooker down.

More information-
www.sialis.org
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Old 12-16-2008, 10:52 PM   #2
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The Sialis site is a very good resource.

Thank you for referencing it.
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Old 12-17-2008, 07:40 AM   #3
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In the spring and early summer it is a constant battle to keep the sparrows out of the bluebird boxs.Lorax you already know how i handle sparrow control,but i will have to try this
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Old 12-17-2008, 11:31 AM   #4
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I've been told it's ok to discuss dispatching English House Sparrows here. We use repeating sparrow traps that we purchased from the Purple Martin Conservation Group, http://www.purplemartin.org/
I just checked their store and it looks like they're not selling them any longer which is a shame. I'm a member at this forum, http://www.michiganmartins.com/ and somebody over there should probably be able to tell us where to buy them.

Check this thread out-
Ten, you get to pick ten

We have so many around here that even though we knock their numbers down, we don't get them all so the sparrow spookers are a real good thing to use if anyone is providing nest boxes for Bluebirds. Hard to do much to protect purple martins with a sparrow spooker for obvious reasons. Too many of them in the same purple martin house.
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:40 PM   #5
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The PMCA still does sell two types of repeating traps. This is the trap that I would use for House Sparrows:
http://purplemartin.org/shop/product_info.php?products_id=234&osCsid=1e1205e317 7308b9daf8b4e643e26168
The PMCA states that this trap will work for European Starling, but Iíve seen this trap in action for years where HOSP and EUST are present. I have only seen HOSP trapped in this style of repeating trap. I would STRONGLY suggest this trap where there is a large number of HOSP present and where their numbers need to be reduced drastically. As with ALL types of bird traps, DO NOT LEAVE THIS TRAP SET UNLESS YOU WILL BE MONITORING IT!!! Native birds can be trapped in any type of trap and they will die if not released very soon after capture. This is extremely important when using repeating traps, as you may trap HOSP and native birds simultaneously. HOSP donít care if they are in a trap with a native bird. They can and will attack adult native birds, especially under a stressful situation.

If itís Starlings that you are after, this is the ticket! :
http://purplemartin.org/shop/product_info.php?products_id=230&osCsid=1e1205e317 7308b9daf8b4e643e26168
I wouldnít pay the price, unless you have a bunch of money and are all thumbs. I am friends with the folks at the PMCA and Iím sure that they would agree with me. If you can use a hammer, saw and tin snips you can build one of these for less than $50.00.

This is the link to the best Sparrow Spooker on the market:
http://www.sparrowtraps.net/spookers.htm
It will set you back more than $20.00, but again, if you have the money and donít want to spend the time and hassle of making your own this is money well spent to save your native cavity nesting birds from being killed by House Sparrows. I made my own. Saw off four inches from the end of a scrap 2X4 (free), drill two holes at an angle to accept a 3 foot dowel rod cut in half ($1.00), insert the two dowel rods and attach a few pieces of Mylar strips ($1.00 at the dollar store Ė buy a flashy banner). Attach above the bluebird box however you choose to (read the link above for placement technique). The Mylar strips should just brush the top of the box.

While I hate to disagree with folks (well, sometimes), you really need to put the spooker in place shortly after the first egg is LAID (not hatched). If you wait until the eggs hatch you will probably be too late. All birds have a bond to that first egg that cannot be underestimated. They put SO much effort into nest building and egg laying that there isnít much that will make them abandon a nest. Just minimize the amount of time that you spend at any nest box. The shorter, the better. I have a Bluebird trail and I have watched Bluebirds and Tree Swallows deal with spookers. They totally freak out when you put it up!!! The male gets MAD! The female gets worried. The male makes large circles around the box, again and again. The circles get smaller and smaller. He finally touches the box and then lets go, making more circles. Then he touches the box for longer periods. Once he grabs on to the box and looks inside he chases down the female, who is still making large circles. He ďforcesĒ her back to the box. She grudgingly accepts and enters the box within ten minutes after placing the spooker.

I lost over 80% of my Bluebird and Tree swallow nests to HOSP for three straight years. I experimented with spookers during the past two years. Last summer my trail fledged two clutches of Bluebirds and about eight clutches of Tree Swallows. I never lost a Bluebird or Tree Swallow egg or young to HOSP. I do use lethal control methods, as well. My Purple Martin colony and Bluebird trail are combined in one location. I have traps for every type of housing that I have and I execute as many HOSP as I possibly can. I lost one Martin nest and about a half dozen eggs from other Martin nests to HOSP last summer. There is no solution to preventing the loss of Purple Martin, eggs, young, nests and adults to HOSP other than executing HOSP. I monitored a Bluebird trail for a friend years ago and found a HOSP nest with eggs on top of the corpse of a female Tree Swallow that was killed while incubating her eggs, which were under her body. You only need to see that once to develop a deep hatred for House Sparrows.

Mark Dietrich
www.michiganmartins.com
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Old 12-17-2008, 05:08 PM   #6
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Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the links and the information.

I don't care if anyone disagrees with me particularly if I'm wrong. I took the sparrow spooker down a few times and put it back up after the first egg hatched because I panicked and thought they wouldn't go back to the egg with the way they were fussing and refusing to go in the nest box. I'll try to wait it out the next time after an egg is laid so the spooker can go up sooner. I don't want any more problems with those sparrows.

I don't hate the house sparrows. I really feel sorry for them because what's going on isn't their fault. I do want all the ones over here destroyed humanely or shipped back to where they came from. We have no purple martins around here any longer because of them.
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Old 12-17-2008, 09:34 PM   #7
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This was the first Bluebird nest I ever had on my property. When I left for work there were five Bluebird eggs. When I got home from work this is what I found. I hate them.
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