This past winter brought a small flock of House Sparrows to my yard. This spring brought a little group of Eastern Bluebirds. House Sparrows compete with bluebirds for nest cavities. They kill bluebirds (eggs, nestlings and adults) in the nest and then build their own nest on top of them. So these non-native sparrows need to go.
You can find all my attempts to get these sparrows to move on in my “Deterring House Sparrows” post. But read on if you’d like more information on one my experiments: a DYI anti-sparrow bird feeder halo. This halo was inspired by the “Magic Halo” that folks at the University of Nebraska devised. If you poke around online, you’ll find lots of people have made their own versions of this device. This is how I made mine.
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.
When I was a kid, we called Dark-Eyed Juncos “snow birds.” Until I started bird watching later in life, I thought that was their actual name. To us, seeing a snow bird was a sign. It meant that it was going to snow, leading to snowmen, snow forts, saucering down the side hill and a day off of school. I suspect this childhood joy may still be a little part of the reason that I still love these little birds today. Even today, when I know that birds don’t cause the weather, I still feel joy when I see the first of the juncos and their winter pals, the White-Throated Sparrows arrive in mid-fall.