House sparrows and how to deal with them

house sparrow

House sparrows are jerks.

There, I said it.

These pesky birds were introduced to the U.S. in 1851 and spread rapidly throughout the country. They are now common across all of North America, except Alaska.

House sparrows nest in natural and artificial cavities, and they will also compete for nesting boxes.

The issues come when house sparrows aren't content just to leave it at "first-come, first-served." They will displace bird species that nesting boxes are intended for, including bluebirds and tree swallows. They have even been sighted taking over robins' nests. To do this, they will kill other nestlings, crush eggs and even build nests on top of other active nests.

They also steal food from the beaks of other birds.

It goes beyond that too, because house sparrows will also aggressively defend their nest holes. A scientist in 1889 reported cases of house sparrows attacking different bird species.

So what do you do about them?

NestWatch has an article with ideas of how to control house sparrows and the European starling. (click here)

-Place your nesting boxes in natural areas away from human habitation, where house sparrows like to be.
-House sparrows like millet, cracked corn and milo, so make sure your seed mixes do not include those varieties.
-Do not open nesting boxes until migrating birds have already arrived, because house sparrows are early nesters and will claim boxes early.
-House sparrows are not native, so you are allowed to remove nests. You may have to remove a nest continually for up to a week before the house sparrow gets the hint.

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1 Comment

  1. Barb Higson on January 29, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    Your article is most interesting. We have a lovely nest box which the house sparrows haven’t used. However they’re loving their feeds of wild bird seed & the water bowl.
    Lately I’ve seen a bird the same size & look as a sparrow but it has a slight yellow tinge. It isn’t a finch or bright in colour. Could it be a cross breed? It seems to have the same features as the house sparrows.
    We live in NZ & are enjoying seeing the little ones feed.