February 28, 2017 at 1:48 pm #3198
I had the worst bluebirding season ever last year. Between snakes, wrens and spouse deaths, I lost five separate nestings. I also had house sparrows attempt to nest in the adjacent box usually occupied by the TRES.
So it’s a new season and spring has come very early to western Connecticut. This morning I saw a female BB on top of my Peterson style box. However, shortly thereafter I saw a house sparrow couple busy going in and out of the adjacent box. (Years ago I had a season with them, but until last summer had only seen them once in 21 years in this house). I looked in the HOSP box and see that they’ve gathered up a few pieces of straw and put them in the box. The Peterson house has no signs of nesting. What is the best way to handle the HOSP? I won’t kill them, but am willing to addle or pierce their eggs. I have a spooker which I could put up. If I keep removing their early nesting attempts, will they leave or try to go to the Peterson house? Any and all suggestions gratefully accepted.
Many thanks.March 1, 2017 at 1:40 am #3199tamseaModerator
Unfortunately they will keep trying to nest. Usually removing their nests does not deter them. Even if they do give up by that time your bluebirds will move on to another box somewhere. And yes, he’ll move on to the next box you have. They are also known to retaliate when their nests are removed or unsuccessful…or so it seeems.
I understand your sentiments on not killing them. When I first started this bluebird hobby I couldn’t kill them so I would take them far away and release them but then became aware that was frowned upon because I was just causing some other bluebird host issues. I finally decided I had to dispose of them. It is hard even now but necessary.
In my opinion the only way to get rid of this current problem is tontrap that HOSP pair with a Van Ert trap and then eliminate those HOSP.
TammyMarch 1, 2017 at 2:02 am #3201
Thanks for your reply. A little over ten years ago, before I retired, my class and I oversaw a bluebird trail we erected around our school. We did get house sparrows there, and as I remember, I addled their eggs. The one year had them on my property, I used fishing wire on the bluebird’s house to discourage the HOSP. Would that or a spooker work if I put it on the box they’re interested in? Is it possible for the HOSP and EABL to co-exist in different houses 15 feet apart? Or are the house sparrows unwilling to share the airspace? One last question. Is it early for the house sparrows to consider nesting? My only experience of them is that they’ve arrived after the EABL.
As you can tell from my questions, I’m very reluctant to trap and euthanize. If it came to it, I might prefer taking down my houses. I know from what you told me, you struggled with the situation yourself; so I hope you’ll understand why I’m asking all these questions before I make any final decision.March 1, 2017 at 8:18 am #3202Carol – Mid-Mo.Participant
Evie, I too struggled with this situation when I first hosted blues, which was 9 seasons ago. It didn’t take me very long before I realized the threat they were to the blues & other native birds – they are smart and relentless about taking over a box. I totally agree with Tammy that they must be removed if you are going to have boxes up. I believe a temporary solution for you might be to move your boxes as far apart as possible & let the HOSP keep busy with one box, taking out their nesting material and NOT letting them lay eggs, or at least not hatching any. This way maybe the blues will have a chance. A spooker is only put up after the blues have laid their 1st egg, or it might deter the blues from laying and the HOSP just get accustomed to it. Sorry you had such a bad year last year, but this is why we have to monitor our boxes and protect them after we invite them into our yards. But, I totally understand what you are going through. We squash bugs, flies, mice, & other pests, and the HOSP are definitely in that category! Thank about it.March 1, 2017 at 11:05 am #3203
I think we all struggle with euthanizing hosp or starlings at first
Unfortunately if left unchecked the hosp will take over
I have been trapping since August and it has made a remarkable difference
Raptor recovery centers might take live birds or a reptile pet store
You can try asking any other bird lovers in the area-maybe you could team up with someone who could do the dirty work
Hope you find a solution-the native birds need all the help they can get
Good Luck 🍀
Darrell in KCMarch 1, 2017 at 11:13 am #3204
Hosp will be nesting soon
That’s how they take over producing 4-5 broods a year vs 2-3 for natives
DarrellMarch 2, 2017 at 4:08 pm #3207dogsandbirdsModerator
Evie, I understand but the worst possible thing is going to happen eventually. When you see first hand what a HOSP will do to a defenseless nestling or what it will do to an adult inside a box you will change your mind. Please think hard about trapping and euthanizing.
Atlanta, GAMarch 2, 2017 at 7:13 pm #3208
I can hear how strongly you all feel about this and I honestly can relate. Last year I became buddies with someone in town who loves bluebirds and seems to have had successful nestings for years. One day he called me thinking he had TRES in a box near his bluebird box. I asked to see a picture as it was very late in the season. It was of course a HOSP nest and parents. I explained what HOSP do to bluebirds and how most bluebirders handle the situation. He was appalled. I begged him to addle the eggs or prick them. He refused to talk to me after that.
Years ago a nest on my school bluebird trail got attacked. It was, indeed, awful. Right now, I’m doing nothing as I have seen no sign of the HOSPs. I am someone who brings bugs outside rather than kill them. (Vespids because I’m allergic are the exception, and mosquitoes). I will have to either bite the bullet or take my houses down as none of you has said that a spooker or the fishing wire (which actually worked years ago) will make a difference.
I’m grateful for the advice. (Just hate what I’m hearing. Hope you understand. )March 3, 2017 at 11:04 am #3212
I think we all understand how you feel
Everyone on this site is obviously a bird lover
None of us likes killing anything but in my situation it was the only option
Hosp had totally taken over
I hate to see you give up enjoying the other birds
Maybe you could contact a pest control service and have them empty your traps
I think you can hire an air-rifle marksman as well
Darrell in KCMarch 5, 2017 at 3:20 am #3217tamseaModerator
It’s not that the fishing wire and spookier doesn’t help at all. It might help for awhile but HOSP are very adaptable and end up getting past things like that. You would be amazed at how many people have told us that they can’t trap and dispose of HOSP but are now doing it. It only takes a couple of disasters before people reconsider. I so hate for you to give up bluebirds. They are so much fun…as you know. Try those other things and see what happens.
TammyMarch 5, 2017 at 8:01 pm #3219Carol – Mid-Mo.Participant
Evie, PLEASE don’t give up your blues yet – try what Tammy suggested you do to see if it helps. Ultimately you will have to make your own decision on this delicate matter. The nesting/hatching of your bluebirds would be so enjoyable for you, but we do need to remember to protect them as best we can.
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