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Old 08-28-2010, 06:52 PM   #61
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The count is now at fifty-four, all females or juveniles. Nevertheless, today I looked out and saw a small flock of hosps picking at food leftovers on the deck. I fear that as long as my neighbor's purple martin house is home to English Sparrows I am fighting a losing battle. Adult males stay away from the trap, and they seem to recruit new sparrows at will.

This process may somewhat minimize the population, but I don't think it's headed for the success I was seeking of having a safe haven, as it once was, for bluebirds and tree swallows.
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:03 AM   #62
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That's a good count you've got there. Some of the juveniles had to be males so you're doing good. I don't suppose you'd consider taking up target practice with an air gun? That's how my husband gets most of the males. He has a bird feeder with the cheap feed in it they like and fills it when he's got time to sit and aim. Our martin house never gets martins but it sure does get HOSPs and we've got it set up where he's got a direct shot at it. Just a thought.
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Old 08-29-2010, 10:09 AM   #63
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Jack,

PLEASE, don't give up!

I fight this fight every single year. My bluebird trail is on school grounds, so I cannot shoot. It is remote, so I can only trap when I'm there. I can't use a repeating trap, because I can't bait an area and get them used to feeding there. You have eliminated more HOSP than do in a year and I fledged between 60 - 70 tree swallows, 7 bluebirds and at least 102 martins this year. You may have more HOSP than I do, but you have learned so much!

I know that you don't like to put these critters down. It isn't pleasant for anyone, but I have seen the results of what they do and it is much worse! You can reach your goal! You are smarter than a male HOSP!

It's time to put up some bluebird boxes. You want them up this fall, so that you are ready in the spring. These will cure your male HOSP problem, too. They absolutely LOVE bluebird houses! They will try to claim them as soon as you put them up. BEFORE you place the bluebird boxes, you need a few of the Van Ert insert traps:
Universal Sparrow Trap

Set screws in your bluebird boxes to be able to accept the insert traps. You will want several bluebird boxes. The more the better, but give them at least 50' distance between boxes and situate them so that they cannot be seen from another box, if possible. I mount mine on 1" conduit, which provides protection from most predators.

When you trap a HOSP in a bluebird box, with an insert trap, it is a little tricky to get it out. A large, clear plastic bag works for me. It goes over the entire box and is closed enough to prevent escape. Open the box after the bag is in place. The HOSP enters the bag and you carefully remove the bag from around the house. Get the HOSP in a corner of the bag, in order to do this easily. With the HOSP in a small corner of the bag, use pure ether (starting fluid) to put the bird to sleep. It is painless.

Because only a few folks do what you and I do, we will never rid North America of house sparrows. More people quit trying to host native birds, instead of fighting HOSP. This contributes to the problem. If you put up boxes, you will host native birds. You will also see what HOSP do to our native birds. This will cause you to double your efforts to eliminate more HOSP. As long as you keep the HOSP numbers low, native bird numbers will increase and have success at nesting. If you can show that neighbor some nesting tree swallows, chickadees, bluebirds, titmouse, nuthatches, whatever, he should be willing to take that house down, or help you eliminate HOSP. If not, that house should be considered an asset to you. At home, I feed seed that HOSP like in order to attract any that are in the area. They can then be eliminated. If you see HOSP at the neighbor's martin house, they should simply become a known target.

This is a lot of work. It's not for everyone. Not many folks will bother with it these days. The house sparrows win. Our native birds will lose in the end. There are not enough people who care. I will host native birds and kill house sparrows and European starlings until I can no longer do so. It is worth it to me. I have the ability to right a wrong on a very small scale. The micro-environments that I create and maintain reward me with a closer relationship with nature than many folks will ever experience. This is an xbox, iPhone, house sparrow world.
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:40 PM   #64
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Thanks for the encouragement, Fishlkmich. I continue to truck on. You're right, it is a lot of work and discouragement seems to beckon from every corner.

I already have some bluebird boxes up but I have reducers over the holes in an attempt to at least get chickadees. But it seems the HOSPS discourage nesting by them also. As to witnessing the destructiveness of HOSPS, before my neighbor moved in next door and put up the PM house, I had both tree swallows and bluebirds nesting every year. The last year they nested, I saw what HOSPS do to these birds when I opened a box and three young bluebirds had been MASSACRED inside. The parents were nowhere to be found. The following year the same thing happened to the tree swallows, but the adults were the victims that time.

I feel that if I could catch the males I would see better progress, but they are crafty, much more so than are the females. I will continue the crusade, get some inserts, and avoid surrendering. Funny, with the pernicious problems of invasive shrubs - esp. multiflora rose and alien vines, and creeping charlie, there's no question that if I could eliminate any alien from my property permanently, it would unequivocally be the English Sparrow. They degrade land in a powerful way.

By the way, I suffer absolutely no compunction in destroying these birds. I do have a problem with the little 4 year old neighbor who is always asking me what the trap is. He wanders over sometimes at the most inopportune time.
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:53 PM   #65
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That's a good count you've got there. Some of the juveniles had to be males so you're doing good. I don't suppose you'd consider taking up target practice with an air gun? That's how my husband gets most of the males. He has a bird feeder with the cheap feed in it they like and fills it when he's got time to sit and aim. Our martin house never gets martins but it sure does get HOSPs and we've got it set up where he's got a direct shot at it. Just a thought.
I may do that, but need to find out if it's legal in Mass. where much that is legal elsewhere is banned. Banned in Boston still has meaning, but now it's the whole state!!

Also, my neighbors are not that far from me on each side and neither are what we would call "enlightened" naturalists. I think they look upon me kindly as a nature freak or at least as an eccentric. Engaging either in ecological conversation is easier said than done. They are worse than bored with anything but running internal combustion engines whenever possible and mowing the lawn lower than each other. I do have a third neighbor who I've shared my endeavor with, and he cheers me on. He had noticed that since that PM house went up the swallows that used to amass in the hundreds on his power line have disappeared. He did tell me to handle the PM house owner with kid gloves as it was his aging dad that built it and the family is very proud of it.
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Old 08-29-2010, 10:26 PM   #66
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We have no discharge laws but for some reason they exclude kids' air guns which are really bb guns I think. I'd check into it. Maybe you can shoot off a bb gun. Just set up your feeder in a location where you're not aiming into somebody's back yard. The HOSPs from your neighbor's HOSP hotel WILL find that feeder.
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Old 05-30-2011, 12:42 PM   #67
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It appears I have succeeded in eliminating the house sparrows from the property. I have a question, though. Is it possible that the house wrens that have wreaked nesting devastation assisted me??? I mean, did they also invade the house sparrow nests my neighbor keeps up and kill all of their offspring too??
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Old 05-30-2011, 12:48 PM   #68
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Quote:
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It appears I have succeeded in eliminating the house sparrows from the property. I have a question, though. Is it possible that the house wrens that have wreaked nesting devastation assisted me??? I mean, did they also invade the house sparrow nests my neighbor keeps up and kill all of their offspring too??

Interesting idea, jack. Hmm...wouldn't that be a silver lining in all of this (no offense to the house sparrows).
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Old 05-31-2011, 07:31 AM   #69
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Jack,

I did some digging into this and I cannot find much about wrens killing young birds. I know that it happens infrequently, but usually wrens only peck eggs. I'm sure that they would raid a HOSP nest, but if they would get rid of enough of them I'd be raising and releasing house wrens!!!!

Congratulations on removing so many house sparrows from your yard! Sialis always has good information and they do mention house wrens killing young of other species. They also have some house wren discouragement tips here:
House Wrens - discouraging, wren guards

This is my favorite link to dealing with house wrens. I'm sorry that you ran into another roadblock along the way, but please take the time to see what these folks did:
Wren Gourds

Good luck!
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Old 05-31-2011, 09:07 AM   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishlkmich View Post
Jack,

I did some digging into this and I cannot find much about wrens killing young birds. I know that it happens infrequently, but usually wrens only peck eggs. I'm sure that they would raid a HOSP nest, but if they would get rid of enough of them I'd be raising and releasing house wrens!!!!

Congratulations on removing so many house sparrows from your yard! Sialis always has good information and they do mention house wrens killing young of other species. They also have some house wren discouragement tips here:
House Wrens - discouraging, wren guards

This is my favorite link to dealing with house wrens. I'm sorry that you ran into another roadblock along the way, but please take the time to see what these folks did:
Wren Gourds

Good luck!
Mark

Hi Mark,

I will get my handy neighbor to look at the wren deterrent designs and see if we can't come up with something suggested there - next year. As to the killing of chicks by HOWR, here is a post by Linrose from a few days ago where he suspects house wrens of killing his bluebird chicks.

http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/for...html#post91630

Have you taken any pictures of your bluebird trail? I'd like to live vicariously through your successes.

BTW, as I type this, the wren is singing outside my window.... I found it interesting that the article you referred me to stated that in Eastern Mass (where I'm located) there is a large amount of chickadee predation going on by House Wrens and that their numbers appear to be proliferating.

Thanks for all of the info.

jack
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