For the past few weeks I’ve been on a crusade to get the House Sparrows that settled in over the winter to move on. We’ve never had many House Sparrows in our yard. I only put out millet in the winter months for the White-Throated Sparrows and the Dark-Eyed Juncos. Each winter, I might get a couple, but they have always left once I stopped offering millet in the spring.
But this year, the House Sparrow population built up gradually over the winter. Now I typically see nearly twenty at a time and they’ve become a problem. If I let them stay, they will probably nest here and the numbers will climb like crazy. They need to go. This is the story of what has turned into one of my biggest bird feeding challenges.
Each time I enter a home count in eBird, I include a note that the location is a “Suburban Wooded Back Yard.” The many mature trees in our yard are after all a part of the attraction for the birds that come here. Unfortunately over the past year or two, this description is starting to fray. Our lovely large trees keep falling in unusual numbers and each time this happens, it not only affects the yard’s human owners but also the birds and other creatures that live here. Over this past weekend another very large tree fell. This one in particular is going to have real repercussions for bird life in our back yard.
One of the nicest gifts you can give the birds in your yard won’t cost you a dime. It’s a brush pile. While we might like to think that birds can eat safely at our backyard feeders, the birds we feed are in turn are often eaten by predators who come to the feeders to find them. Providing cover nearby gives birds a quick place to flee when a hawk soars through the feeder area or a neighborhood cat decides to come and bird watch too.