Sparrows becoming pests : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

This past year we have experienced a sparrow population explosion. There have always been two - three pairs nesting in our pole barn, but lately I have been chasing out three to four DOZEN at a time.(A fellow horse owner about 20 miles away is having the same problem, so it isn't just our place.) Our policy has always been live and let live unless a critter does damage or is dangerous. Well, we have reached the damage point with the sparrows and now they have to go. We make sure there is no grain left in the open, and I have tried putting screens on the windows and closing any opening larger than an inch but they still find a way. They are now coming in the swinging dog doors, what next. I have the bird shot on the table but thought I'd post this first for any alternatives. By the way, have tried the fake owl, worked for only two days even though I kept moving its location. Loud music upsets the livestock, doesn't bother the sparrows.

-- Nancy Bakke-McGonigle Mn. Sunset (, January 24, 2001


Most bird people (I can't spell orynthologists) will tell you to shoot them. It seems the sparrows are not native to this country (I'm assuming you're in the USA) and actually were imported here from England. They are a problem and eat all the food and take all the space needed by native birds. I like the little critters too and have a bunch of bird feeders and I just tolerate the sparrows because I don't want to shoot them either. But if you want to get rid of them, you'll have to blast the little bastards.

-- Joe (, January 24, 2001.

I saw an ad in the Stromberg's catalog for a sparrow trap. You are supposed to leave one bird in it each day to attract more the next day. I'm assuming you get the chore of wringing little sparrow necks each afternoon. Actually, we have so many and they are making such a mess in the barn, that might be a pleasure (NOT REALLY--PLEASE DON'T SET THE PETA PEOPLE ON ME!) Anyway does anyone have any experience with them.

In addition to building their messy nests, they've run out barn swallows and torn out the weatherstripping installed between the roof and the ridge piece of our metal pole barn. All those little pieces have fallen onto the hay and when it rains during a wind, we have a big leak.

-- marilyn (, January 24, 2001.

Get three or four cats for your barn.

-- Bettie Ferguson (, January 25, 2001.

Years ago when we had our Morton barn build (after the big hip roof burned) they installed some rods way up in the peak that were suppose to keep birds out of the barn. They seemed to work for several years but now I have the same problem, and boy do they make a mess. Can't birds carry disease also? Does anybody know about these rods and if Morton still has them? Guess I will call the company, get out the ladder and put them up if they're still available. I'll post the info here when I find out.

-- Betsy K (, January 25, 2001.

Marilyn, Saw the same trap but also wondered what to do with the captured birds. Take them on a long drive to be someone else's problem (not nice) or kill them; might as well use the birdshot in the first place. Has anyone used these traps and what did you do with the sparrows?

We have also lost our barn swallows. (The sparrows have stolen their nests.)They were birds we could happily live with.

Most of our barn cats are sleeping by the wood burner on these cold winter days but they still go out to hunt. It is very hard to catch a sparrow in trusses 12 to 18 feet above the ground. We find occasional bodies on the hay stack where the birds are in reach.

-- Nancy Bakke-McGonigle Mn. Sunset (, January 25, 2001.

Nancy, Interesting trouble here! Here's a few tidbits from a practicing "bird person", First and foremost is to positively identify the type of sparrow you have. There are dozens and the only non-native is the English sparrow(house sparrow), readily identified by the black"mask" on the male. These are a real problem to a number of native birds,due mostly to competition for nesting sites. Probably what you have, since here in WNY I know of no other sparrow that would nest in this manner. As for the traps, they are essentially a tool for banding and releasing birds that some marketing guru has decided to try and sell as something they are not, yes they will catch birds, but what then?? A trick I've seen used around here is to provide the cats with access to the "high spots" via a small walkway of old lumber or the equivalent. Few birds will nest where the danger of predation is present, and I've never seen a cat that didn't like to climb and hunt. As for disease, I have never read of wild songbirds transmitting any that is dangerous to anything other than domestic poultry stock. So keep 'em away from the chickens, but otherwise!?!? Hope any of this helps!?!?!?

-- dan (, January 27, 2001.

Dan, Thank you for all your information.

The sparrows we are having problems with are the house sparrow (we also have white-throated, field, chipping, and a possible Eurasian Tree sparrow.) They are causing problems for our chickens and Indian Fantail pigeons, so it isn't just the mess.

I really like the idea of the "cat walkway"! One of those obvious solutions that wasn't thought of. Can't wait to try it out.

Thanks again.

-- Nancy Bakke-McGonigle Mn. Sunset (, January 28, 2001.

Be sure you are dealing with the "English sparrow"! If you are, break out whatever you have, including nuclear waste! These are nasty little birds, and are particularly detrimental to our native bluebirds. Problem is that most folks like ALL birds. These are deserving of "birdicide"! We also have several species of good native sparrows. Please educate yourself on who is who. Then break out the automatic weapons to annihilate the brits!! They are about as disgusting as the other Brit import - the starling! The more I think about this, in spite of a soucon' of British heritage, the more I believe we should support the Irish or Scots! GL! One of the Maineiacs ---

-- Brad (, January 31, 2001.

Sparrow update. Thank-you to everyone who offered advice or comments. It has been one week and we are now winning the battle against the house (English) sparrow! (Note to Brad; I'm part Scots and my husband is half Irish. About time we win one over the English. Please everyone, just a joke!) I've been shooting over their roosting places near our building. They are finally moving away. Now I'm dealing with only about six very persistent birds. Have figured out how to put up the catwalk this Spring. That should take care of the rest of them. It is so nice not having everything covered in droppings!

-- Nancy Bakke-McGonigle Mn. Sunset (, January 31, 2001.

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