Papa Blue vs. the Sparrow

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This topic contains 14 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Carol – Mid-Mo. 4 weeks, 1 day ago.

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  • #8266
    JulieJulie
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    Since I’ve learned so much from all of you, I wanted to share something I saw last night, near dusk. I’m diligent about trapping HOSP, but this year the DRST has been consistently empty. I see fewer HOSP, so maybe making progress?? The bluebird box has 4 nestlings that will fledge in the next 7-10 days. My neighbors are watching and snapping pics and generally having a great time observing. He even showed the box to his son on a facetime call yday! “Here’s the bluebird box,” I overheard from the veggie patch. Last night, a young, slender male HOSP was visiting the empty front yard Gilbertson box, chirping and flitting in and out. He was sitting on the roof, when WHAM! Out of nowhere from behind the house, Papa Blue swept down and tackled that HOSP to the ground.

    After a dust-up, Papa Blue flew off, and the HOSP flitted away, but was back within 5 minutes. He went into the box, and just as his head popped back out, Papa Blue dropped from the sky and slammed into that head, dragging the HOSP from the box. He had that HOSP by the throat! Another dust-up on the ground, and Papa Blue flew to the streetlight arm, where Papa TRES was watching. They had a dust-up. Papa Blue was taking no prisoners!

    The HOSP returned a 3rd time and went into the box. Papa Blue flew down to the box, went halfway into it and emerged dragging that HOSP by the scruff of the neck!!! Another wrestling match on the ground, and then Papa Blue went after any bird that happd to fly into the front yard. The robins nesting next door got caught up in his fury, as did a pair of catbirds. I watched the house finches, who were flitting from the porch, make a sharp right turn in flight to escape the angry blue. The song sparrow dove under an azalea. It was quite a show. I have seen bluebirds divebomb HOSP, but never seen them handle the HOSP so bodily. It was like watching a lion taking down a gazelle.

    Today the HOSP is back, chirping like mad. I’ll get the in-box trap set up so I can catch him. Have you ever seen a bluebird man-handle a HOSP like that? I am hopeful that the blues and TRES can live in peace in the front yard. It’s been done in the past, but this is definitely a new bluebird pair for me.

    • This topic was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Julie Julie.
    #8268
    David in Stafford,VADavid in Stafford,VA
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    That must have been exciting to watch, Julie. You have a very protective male. I have only seen a female BB knock a female HOSP off the nestbox a few years ago. We do not have many HOSP around the yard at all. That would have been a good video to post if you had caught it.

    David
    Stafford, VA

    #8269
    JulieJulie
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    My husband (Air Force vet) said the same thing, David! He said, “Wish I had seen that! Hmmm, I need to clear my camera card so we can set it up by the window and you can use it the moment you spot action.” It all happd so fast and, like so much of this, I was in the right place at the right time. The funniest part was the finches and song sparrow exiting the area!

    #8271
    blue diamondsblue diamonds
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    Wowza…..that HOSP sent papa Blue into an uncontrollable rage! I have never seen anything like that before. So glad papa blue came out on top. Hope he keeps up the good work. He needs some kind of a bruiser name. Lol.

    Judy-Michigan

    #8272
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Julie, I have never in all my years seen anything like this with a HOSP and bluebird. My papa blue will chase them away from the feeder, but no physical stuff like you are talking. It may be because I have several boxes and usually the HOSP are busy at 3 of my 4 boxes, while my bluebirds take care of and raise baby blues in the remaining box. Good for him!

    #8273
    JulieJulie
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    Judy, thinking about what you said. I’m gonna start calling this Papa Blue the Blue-zer (aka bruiser)!! That was a great idea! I was thinking last night about a time last June when the TRES had eggs and a HOSP showed up out of nowhere and decided to take their nesting box. It got into the box and ultimately carried off an egg. When that HOSP was in the box, at one point he poked his head out, and one of the TRES hit it in the head hard by dropping fast out of flight from behind the box (out of the HOSP’s sightline). The strike was enough to topple the HOSP more forward, and before it regained its balance, on a 2nd pass the TRES hit it, grabbed onto the back of the neck, and thrust the HOSP to the ground. It was pinned! The TRES held it there and beat it with its wings. I got the spooker up after that and the rest of the nesting was successful. I have no clue where these HOSP come from b/c they’re not at the birdbath. I think they show up from surrounding yards or nearby farms. Hopefully it’s peaceful from here on out, altho’ my husband would love to see the flight tactics. He loves that part of this process.

    #8274
    blue diamondsblue diamonds
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    I like it …..“The Blue-zer”. The word is out on the HOSP being trouble, all the birds got the memo. When you see them….hit them hard. Enjoyed all your stories. I hope the remainder of the season is peaceful. 😊

    Judy-Michigan

    #8277
    Dana
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    Julie that is so cool about the male bluebird and how he dealt with the HOSP! :wow: Sometimes I wish all bluebirds dealt with HOSPs that way.

    Dana
    Lancaster, PA

    #8285
    JulieJulie
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    Well, Dana, I wish that Blue-zer’s efforts were more successful!! That HOSP has been sitting on that box singing all week. He’s there now. He doesn’t ever go into the box, so there’s no point setting up a trap. Blue-zer has been patrolling the box regularly, so they’re definitely moving there after the 1st babies fledge this week. Bluezer has taken to sitting on the speed limit sign under the street light or a stop sign across the street, so as not to bother the TRES. So it looks like things should work out in that area. I just wish I could get rid of this HOSP.

    #8302
    phillyblues
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    The HOSPs have been worst than ever this year. Usually they move on by now. I cannot get rid of them. I trapped a couple and somehow they got out before I could dispose of them. Very distressing. And neighbors all over our neighborhood just breed them like crazy. Sickening. I almost wish you needed a license. Everyone seems to understand the lantern fly needs to be destroyed so why do birdhouse manufacturers not educate their customers on this epidemic. My 10 year old daughter could never understand why I hate house sparrows so much…i tried to explain it by explaining invasive species… and suddenly it clicked …”ohhhhhhh theyre like lanterflies!” She got it.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  phillyblues.
    #8305
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Never heard of lantern fly – what is it? Yes, HOSP definitely around this year, although I don’t notice much difference – they are always a pest. I’ve disposed of about 6 pairs since the season began and have one right now been on a box for about 2 weeks, just waiting for a mate and doesn’t even have a nest built, just a few pieces of grass – Dumb thing!

    #8308
    phillyblues
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    Lantern flies have infested the northeast in the last couple of years. They are an invasive Chinese bug that is killing trees everywhere. Nothing seems to eat them either.

    #8309
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Thanks for the info on Lantern flies – hope they do not come to my area. We do have Japanese beetles here, which are quite a pest, also. Last 2 years have been bad – don’t know what June or July will bring here. At least they do not kill a plant – they just chew on the foliage – when they get through a leaf looks like a skeleton, all the green middle of a leaf is gone.

    #8322
    JulieJulie
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    I can tell that the first round of HOSP nesting has produced b/c I now have many in the yard. I told my husband I’d set up the DRST this week at some point. That doggone male is STILL on the loose here. Now whenever I walk into the backyard he starts this high alarm chittering. He knows I am out to get him! Grrrr. He’s been singing on the 2nd front box, the one that’s only ever been used once by blues. He was there all day Tues. I finally put the trap out, came back a few minutes later, and it was tripped. Hallelujah! Out I went, and to my horror discovered I had caught Bluezer!!! Oh dear. That poor bird. I’ve noticed he’s still guarding the other front yard house, so hopefully they’ll nest here. No new nest activity yet, which is slow for my experience. Maybe this week…

    PhillyBlues, I agree with you re: educating people not to breed HOSP! Every time I hear one cheep, it’s like fingernails on a blackboard to my ears! I just detest them.

    Carol, I have seen more grubs than ever in my life this year when I was edging and weeding the flower beds. I can’t imagine how many beetles there will be…

    #8326
    Carol – Mid-Mo.
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    Julie, catching a bluebird with your trap is VERY frightening. This is one reason it is so very important to monitor a box closely where you have set a trap and to be very careful when you open the box to see what the bird is. Especially important when it is hot. I have only caught a bluebird maybe two or three times in all these years, Don’t like this – but as long as the bird was not in the box very long and released unharmed they usually stay around like nothing happened.

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