Help and Advice, Sparrow Attack

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      Afternoon All,

      Well after a successful hatch, my baby bluebirds were getting along just fine. I got home from work today and saw house sparrows around my box, and the female house sparrow going in and out. I took down the female with a well placed pellet, but the male continued to swarm the nest. He eventually relented and let the male and female bluebirds alone. However, I think several of my fledglings may not make it. One was not moving and another looked pretty beat up on the beak/head area. I watched through my binoculars as the mama blue tried to remove the fallen fledgling from the nest. What is the best way to proceed here? should I help remove the ones that didn’t make it? or should I let nature take it’s course?
      I have hunted and fished my whole life, so death in nature isn’t anything I’m not used to. I have to say, however, that I’m more upset about this than I thought I would be. Thanks for any advice everyone!


      That is terrible Matt. So sorry for the loss of any for the nestlings. I would remove any of the fallen nestlings as soon as possible if the female is unable to get them out of the nest. You cant do much for the injured birds other than watch after the female tends them. If they do not survive you will have to remove them also.

      I have not had that situation to deal with yet, so others that may have experience with the HOSP attacks may have better information.

      Good luck with the survivors.

      Stafford, VA

      Carol – Mid-Mo.

        Matt, so VERY sorrow – Never had to deal with this in my 14 seasons, as far as actual HOSP damage. First – did you have up a sparrow spooker? I am a true believer of these very inexpensive (we make our own) items. They need to be put up right after the 1st egg is laid.
        For example, just about 2 weeks ago a HOSP built a nest in one of my extra boxes (about 75-100 feet apart). It took him over one week to attract a female – he just stayed on top of the box singing for a mate. When he finally got one, I watched them closely for the next several days – just let them do their thing at the box, thereby leaving my 5 baby bluebirds alone. Well, yesterday it was time to set my VanErt inbox trap and did so – he went in it but managed to escape. I took the nest out and will have to watch closely.

        But this HOSP never did try to go to the box where my five, 10 day old baby blues are, and the sparrow spooker with its bright red ribbons flying in the wind.

        David gave good advise about the removal of your blues. Good luck the rest of the season.


          So sorry to hear this happened to you. I agree with David. Remove the nestlings that have perished. Leaving them in the nest can pose a health hazard to the surviving nestlings. The eventual unpleasant odor from those nestlings that didn’t make it will attract unwanted parasites and critters.


            Thanks for the advice everyone!
            Checked the nest box on my lunch break, and the last little one didn’t make it. I removed 5 yesterday and I was hoping the last one would pull through. But nature had other plans I suppose. I’ve definitely taken away some good things from this failed attempt, I’ll try not to make the same mistakes next time.
            Carol: no, I did not have a sparrow spooker up on my nest box. I had not seen any sparrows for many weeks, after having killed about 12 this spring. However, I will be heading to Lowe’s tonight to get the necessary supplies and will add one to my box in the event that the adults decide to try again. I had been doing well during the quarantine with my pellet gun, but as I’ve gone back to working in the office the spooker may be able to help guard the box while I’m away.
            I may also put up a second “dummy” box, and if the sparrows take that one over I’ll be able to eliminate them more efficiently.
            The good news is that both adults are still alive and in the vicinity. Hopefully they decide to attempt another brood.
            I cleaned the box well and removed the nest; I decided it might be best for the parents to construct a new one, and start fresh again (too much death surrounding the last nest, anyway). I appreciate all the helpful advice everyone has given me this spring!


              Spend the entire year destroying sparrows. I had the same thing happen last year so I dedicated the rest of the year eliminating as many as I can catch. Up to about 85 now. I notice a lot less around but it will be a constant battle. Sorry to hear this.


                So sorry to read this news Matt. It is heartbreaking.
                I lost 5 of mine to a bear last year, so I understand how you feel.
                Good Luck with the next nestlings.


                Matt, sorry to hear that the entire nest was destroyed. It is a good thing to clean out the nestbox after each nesting so the pair can build a new nest. Good luck on nest #2.
                Phillieblues, that success with the HOSP population is good to hear everywhere. -85 is a tremendous number to take out of the population. Keep up the trapping or what ever you are doing.
                Good to hear that your birds are okay also Carol. Do you have a plan for building your “sparrow-wpooker”? I have never put one up but I have noticed a lot of other sparrows (not HOSP) at my other bird feeders and just want to build on to use on the nest nesting. I so have a wren guard but did not put it up for the early nest as I did not see any wrens in the yard and woods at the time. they are here now but not bothering the bluebird nest.

                Stafford, VA

                Carol – Mid-Mo.

                  Yes, David, I have a plan which I got from – will post it on a new thread.


                    Thanks everyone!

                    Phillyblues: Yes, the “gloves have come off” as far as sparrows are concerned. I’m considering several steps as far as live traps and in house traps, as well as baiting for them.

                    What methods have you been using? not sure if you have started another thread on this, but I’d be interested in hearing how you’ve managed to get so many so I can replicate it.

                    blue diamonds

                      Matt, so sorry this happened. Hope your blues build another nest and have a successful brood.

                      Judy – Michigan


                        Hi Matt. I have a ground cage trap that seems to have really active times of year, especially fall and winter. But just caught a few today. This is how I catch the vast majority. I put it where I see sparrows congregate. Bait it with bread and crackers and put some scattered near and on top of the trap too so they get a taste first. Play sparrow sounds (youtube or something) on a bluetooth speaker placed next to it to draw them near if you have to. If you catch onenor two be patient and try to get as many as you can. I usually get no more than 3 or 4 at a time. Dispose and set again. I leave the dead ones out for the foxes and possums at night. To dispose, buy a couple cheap mesh laundry bags, wear gloves, carefully put the bag around the cage exit, open it and MAKE SURE THERE IS NO WAY THEY CAN ESCAPE THE BAG…they will find any loose end trust me… and shake them into the bag hard a bunch of times until they are all in….push them to the very bottom in a clutch….twist the bag…find a hard surface and swing hard and fast 2 or 3 times. Done.

                        My second trap is the van ert trap (ebay). These are great in early spring and throughoit nestimg season. If you see activity on or near a bird house, set the box trap. Wait and hope for the male to go in.once you catch him…and you will….take the box off the pole and drape your laundry bag around the front and sides. Again, make sure you have absolutely no escape path. The bag has to be tight….open the box and push the bastard into the bag and squeeze the bag so it can’t get past your hand. You know the rest.

                        I was inspired by a youtube video of some guy who put a box on his barn with a hole inside the box that leads to a sparrow repeating cage trap in the barn. He emptied it out daily. He said the first two years he caught 500 each year. Then around 100 the third…he is now down to a handful a year and said all the native songbirds have returned.

                        Oh one more thing…make sure they are house sparrows. Sometimes a song sparrow or a female or young house finch gets in and it is damned hard to tell them apart. And in winter the juncos and white throat sparrows always seem to get in. Usually i am able to keep the sparrow back and shoo the good birds out but sometimes it is a lost trapping.


                          Thanks for the write up Phillyblues! I ordered the DRST Sparrow Trap yesterday, seems to be a pretty well recommended one. It should get here on Saturday, so I’ll start baiting them with bread and popcorn this afternoon. I appreciate the advice on dispatching them, I was considering several other methods but I live in a subdivision so I’d like to keep it discreet. Your way seems like a good method in the garage with the door closed. I’m sure I’ll end up catching more than I think, I only ever seem to see a couple at a time but I know they’re all over the place. I’ll be sure to double check for any natives in the trap, that’s one reason why I decided on a live trap. I may also order some van ert box traps as well, the same male (probably) that killed my nestlings has been coming back to the nestbox.

                          As John Rambo once said: “They drew first blood, not me..” :shoot9:


                            If you can, try to leave one HOSP alive in the trap. Nothing seems better for bait than a live hosp. I try to keep the trap dry, both when im using it to keep the sparrows going and in storage because of the wood.

                            I was trapping starlings out front with it this winter, and i carry 6 or 8 in the cage around back, well, to “correct them” like the butler in the shining said. One day a driver stopped a minute, i guess wondering what i was doing. They didnt confront me but im not sure what they could do about it.

                            Every birdhouse i put up i put two screws in it to mount the van ert trap,at least any that it physically fits inside and works. i put a clear plastic bag over the birdhouse when i take them out, in case the sparrows get by when i open the birdhouse.


                              Awesome job Chris. Keep up the great work. If only every block in America had a Chris! People have no idea what they’re missing.

                              Matt that is great to hear. I was wondering if you can freeze these things and sell them to reptile owners. Who knows. Probably too diseased….but freezong shoild kill disease . Anyways, yeah, as many have said on this site….you have to get the males most. Once they loke a box they will never leave it alone. So you should be able to get him easily. Good luck and keep us posted….and educate as many as you can.

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