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Old 03-15-2010, 11:34 AM   #31
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The problem really boils down to the fact that if you allow house sparrows and starlings that live in your immediate area to survive, you will always have house sparrows and starlings and they will continue to reproduce. If you just don't have it in you to kill things and nobody will do it for you, enjoy your house sparrows and starlings. PLEASE, just don't allow them to build a nest on your property! If everyone would do this one little thing, it would help tremendously. So many folks allow them to nest in garages, holes in siding and many, many, many nest boxes, meant for native birds, their recovery and their continued place in North America.

If city building owners and managers would do the same thing we could reduce the population of S&S drastically.

These thoughts are all just wishful thinking because 99% of the population does not care. They never will. They can tell you "That bird is a robin." They can probably get blue jay right. Most folks would know a crow. That's about as far as it goes. People with bird feeders can rarely name each visitor and easily mistake species. Most folks who provide housing for birds can identify the majority of the birds that they see and these folks might actually be bird watchers.

So, we are faced with two invasive species that love our heavily populated urban areas. The store managers allow them to breed in their signs and overhangs. The 99% of the people who don't even know that those little brown birds are house sparrows feed them and allow them to breed on their property. Take a walk in your nearest town and compare the ratio of native birds (all of them) to the number of house sparrows and starlings. This is like fighting the war on drugs. There will be no winners. There will be many losers. The losers are the birds that are displaced and killed by S&S. The losers are the people who won't enjoy saying "Look at that bluebird." because they are so rare now that most people don't know what they look like. Some losers will come my way. They will do what comes to them naturally and I will kill them in order to protect a very small number of native birds. Because a very small percent of people in North America care much about our native birds, a very small percent of our native, cavity nesting birds are still on this Earth.

The bottom line is that if you are reading this thread forget about oiling, shaking, scrambling or frying house sparrow eggs. Don't let them get there in the first place. If you can not stop house sparrows or starlings from nesting in a nest box, please take it down. If starlings want to nest under the top of your propane tank, please leave it open until they move on. If they get into your garage or house and nest, please find a way to stop them. Spray foam, screening, anything. They are persistent and it might take you a summer to stop them. Help by getting your neighbors to do the same. They will not live where they cannot breed. More will come, but if they have no place to nest they will move on. I volunteer to take neglected nest boxes down, wherever I see them.

A combination of lethal and passive control of house sparrows and starlings is required to successfully manage nest boxes for native birds.
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Old 03-15-2010, 02:35 PM   #32
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The problem really boils down to the fact that if you allow house sparrows and starlings that live in your immediate area to survive, you will always have house sparrows and starlings and they will continue to reproduce. If you just don't have it in you to kill things and nobody will do it for you, enjoy your house sparrows and starlings. PLEASE, just don't allow them to build a nest on your property! If everyone would do this one little thing, it would help tremendously. So many folks allow them to nest in garages, holes in siding and many, many, many nest boxes, meant for native birds, their recovery and their continued place in North America.

If city building owners and managers would do the same thing we could reduce the population of S&S drastically.

These thoughts are all just wishful thinking because 99% of the population does not care. They never will. They can tell you "That bird is a robin." They can probably get blue jay right. Most folks would know a crow. That's about as far as it goes. People with bird feeders can rarely name each visitor and easily mistake species. Most folks who provide housing for birds can identify the majority of the birds that they see and these folks might actually be bird watchers.

So, we are faced with two invasive species that love our heavily populated urban areas. The store managers allow them to breed in their signs and overhangs. The 99% of the people who don't even know that those little brown birds are house sparrows feed them and allow them to breed on their property. Take a walk in your nearest town and compare the ratio of native birds (all of them) to the number of house sparrows and starlings. This is like fighting the war on drugs. There will be no winners. There will be many losers. The losers are the birds that are displaced and killed by S&S. The losers are the people who won't enjoy saying "Look at that bluebird." because they are so rare now that most people don't know what they look like. Some losers will come my way. They will do what comes to them naturally and I will kill them in order to protect a very small number of native birds. Because a very small percent of people in North America care much about our native birds, a very small percent of our native, cavity nesting birds are still on this Earth.

The bottom line is that if you are reading this thread forget about oiling, shaking, scrambling or frying house sparrow eggs. Don't let them get there in the first place. If you can not stop house sparrows or starlings from nesting in a nest box, please take it down. If starlings want to nest under the top of your propane tank, please leave it open until they move on. If they get into your garage or house and nest, please find a way to stop them. Spray foam, screening, anything. They are persistent and it might take you a summer to stop them. Help by getting your neighbors to do the same. They will not live where they cannot breed. More will come, but if they have no place to nest they will move on. I volunteer to take neglected nest boxes down, wherever I see them.

A combination of lethal and passive control of house sparrows and starlings is required to successfully manage nest boxes for native birds.
I have not and will not let house sparrows (or starlings) nest on my property. I am just unsure how far I will go to stop them. I am still struggling with the idea of killing them by my own hand.

I only feed black oil sunflower seeds. In my two and half years here, I've only seen a starling once and a house sparrow pass through maybe 2 or 3 times. This year, I saw one exploring one of my nestboxes. This was not out in the open field as the other two are. I decided to take it down. I will continue to monitor the other two boxes. Just this morning I saw a pair of bluebirds checking out the same one that was used last year.

Reading your post has me almost motivated to try a humane method to kill them. Perhaps I'll find it in myself to do it...perhaps not.
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Old 03-15-2010, 09:58 PM   #33
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I don't ever see them eating the safflower seeds I put out. Can't help you with your struggles since I'm in the same boat as you. We let them nest and I boil the eggs and put them back... seems to slow them down laying more eggs since they'll sit on them for quite a while. The other thing about that is that when my husband does shoot one of the parents... there aren't any nestlings left to starve to death and... he will shoot them since we put up a bait feeder that has the cheap seed in it they like. I knew this gal who mustered up enough in her to kill them which blew me away.... if you knew her you would have placed odds on her that even if someone offered her 1k she wouldn't be able to destroy them. She drowned them by removing the desirable birds from her trap then sinking the whole trap into a garbage can of water. She said it was fast and easy and she could put the lid on and not watch. I could never but... I am having more days where I think about making them go to sleep in a plastic garbage bag at the end of my car's tail pipe. Do what ever is in you to do. If it's only taking down the nests welllll.... you've just taken away one place for them to raise young and that's a good thing.
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Old 03-16-2010, 06:49 AM   #34
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Apathy has given us a government that we don't like. Apathy has created schools that don't give our children the eduction to compete in a global economy. Apathy has allowed our national debt to bankrupt us. Apathy will slowly erode the safe havens provided for native birds and they will go the way of the Dodo. It is said that only the strong survive. That would be house sparrows and starlings, in this case.
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Old 03-16-2010, 04:06 PM   #35
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I don't ever see them eating the safflower seeds I put out. Can't help you with your struggles since I'm in the same boat as you. We let them nest and I boil the eggs and put them back... seems to slow them down laying more eggs since they'll sit on them for quite a while. The other thing about that is that when my husband does shoot one of the parents... there aren't any nestlings left to starve to death and... he will shoot them since we put up a bait feeder that has the cheap seed in it they like. I knew this gal who mustered up enough in her to kill them which blew me away.... if you knew her you would have placed odds on her that even if someone offered her 1k she wouldn't be able to destroy them. She drowned them by removing the desirable birds from her trap then sinking the whole trap into a garbage can of water. She said it was fast and easy and she could put the lid on and not watch. I could never but... I am having more days where I think about making them go to sleep in a plastic garbage bag at the end of my car's tail pipe. Do what ever is in you to do. If it's only taking down the nests welllll.... you've just taken away one place for them to raise young and that's a good thing.

If I can do it, I'm leaning toward the CO2--that sounds more peaceful than drowning. Thanks for the support.
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Old 03-16-2010, 07:04 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by fishlkmich View Post
The problem really boils down to the fact that if you allow house sparrows and starlings that live in your immediate area to survive, you will always have house sparrows and starlings and they will continue to reproduce. If you just don't have it in you to kill things and nobody will do it for you, enjoy your house sparrows and starlings. PLEASE, just don't allow them to build a nest on your property!

I can't kill them either. Even though I object to them as a invasive and aggressive species, killing an individual is beyond me. Maybe I could talk myself into taking trapped birds to the Wild Bird Sanctuary, where they could feed the raptors... maybe not. They aren't a problem in my neighborhood, fortunately.

Many people can't kill house sparrows, but they are willing to oil eggs, remove new nests, install Sparrow Spookers, avoid millet-based seed, use feeders instead of broadcasting seed, and buy "unfriendly-to-HOSP" boxes. Rather than just have 1% of people eradicating HOSP, what if we had an additional 30% doing non-lethal interventions? Since more people are willing to implement them, nonlethal methods could still have an impact.

The problem is that most people don't know what to do. We need to have the HOSP-harrassment methods incorporated into popular culture, so that when someone is buying seed at Lowes they know which bag is best. I cringe when I see someone with the "best for wild birds" mix (the one that is mostly millet) in their cart.

Here's the thing: Where is the website that says simply and plainly, "To help songbirds, do A, B, and C"? There isn't one... or if there is, I haven't seen it. The Sialis site is great for birders, but the recommendations are too detailed and complex for most people to wade through. People have too many things fighting for their attention to read through a long website. If they can't see what they need within three minutes, they're gone.
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Old 03-16-2010, 09:13 PM   #37
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Sialis also says that trapping birds and trimming their flightfeathers makes them less aggressive, maybe that's an idea?
HOSP Wing Trimming: how to - alternative to euthanasia
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:01 AM   #38
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If the flight feathers on both wings are trimmed correctly, it is practically a death sentence. If that method is used in conjunction with the practice of eliminating nests, the results would be more effective. I have wondered how someone who cannot bring themselves to kill a house sparrow could possibly trim flight feathers, but if that works for them it works for me. I have no reason to object to using oiling, boiling and shaking eggs. My point was that the best alternative is to not allow them to nest at all. If they do not nest they do not reproduce.

I use Sparrow Spookers. They have a place and are a great tool. I support and suggest passive and lethal control methods for house sparrows. I find that the combination of passive and lethal control is the only way that I can successfully manage a bluebird trail and purple martin colony. I do not believe that a bluebird trail or purple martin colony can be managed in any area that has a high population of house sparrows without incorporating lethal control.

I also feed birds. Variety in food offered results in a higher variety of visiting species. Suet brings in a number of species that I wouldn't see as often if I didn't offer suet. If I didn't offer milo and millet I would miss having all of the juncos, many native sparrows and others that eat these seeds, but won't have anything to do with sunflower or safflower seed.

So, you are right. There isn't one answer and there isn't an easy answer. People don't know what they should do and there isn't a simple way for them to learn everything that there is to know. Now we have come full circle. The vast majority of folks don't care. Those that do care, do so in varying degrees. Many folks are uncomfortable with lethal control and some lethal control methods cannot be used in some areas. Most people who feed birds are going to offer milo and millet, knowingly or not.

It is fairly easy to locate a house sparrow nest. The adults are there constantly. If you remove a house sparrow nest and do nothing more, they will rebuild it in less than a day. It would be easy to "house sparrow proof" any property. If they eat there and you don't want to shoot or trap them, at least they have to find somewhere else to breed. If you help each of your neighbors and relatives to eliminate house sparrow nests and they do the same, it would help.

I live in the country. If I have problems with S&S I eliminate them. I do it legally and folks should know that if you shoot S&S you probably need a small game license. In Michigan we had a technical glitch in our laws that made trapping anything without fur illegal. We fixed that, but you still may need a small game license to dispatch them legally, even if trapping.
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Old 03-17-2010, 12:02 PM   #39
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I also feed birds. Variety in food offered results in a higher variety of visiting species. Suet brings in a number of species that I wouldn't see as often if I didn't offer suet. If I didn't offer milo and millet I would miss having all of the juncos, many native sparrows and others that eat these seeds, but won't have anything to do with sunflower or safflower seed.

I've got several juncos and a native sparrow or two. I didn't use any suet this year but did last year. Sometimes I'll put out a few peanuts or walnuts as a treat. I do see nuthatches, woodpeckers, and flickers too...just with the black oil sunflower seeds.

Thanks to you, fishlkmich, Calliandra, and everyone else for the discussion and suggestions.
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Old 03-18-2010, 09:53 AM   #40
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If I can do it, I'm leaning toward the CO2--that sounds more peaceful than drowning. Thanks for the support.
I missed this earlier. This is another great option for the squeamish, but automobile exhaust is carbon monoxide, not dioxide. The problems with using car exhaust are endless. It's hard to do. It may generate hot gas . . .

Carbon dioxide is available in the form of dry ice. When placed in open atmosphere it dissipates CO2 (it is CO2 in its solid form). If someone has issues with dispatching S&S, but is willing to trap them, get a cooler that your trap will fit in. You can find dry ice locally. Try wholesale food vendors, ice cream wholesalers and similar places. In the south, I have seen it in grocery stores. Just place the trap in a cooler, add a chunk of dry ice and close the lid. This is considered a humane practice by Michigan law.
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