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Happy Halloween- A Birdhouse Massacre that Almost Was

October 30, 2016 2 min read

Happy Halloween

It's that scary time of year with ghosts, goblins... and house sparrows!

Here's one instance where we'll say please don't put up a birdhouse, everyone will be better off without. Should house sparrows reside in your yard, it's just best not to do so unless you're able to monitor the nesting process and take action as needed.

Many a good sparrow species do reside in our yards; like the song sparrow, chipping, white throated, Savannah, Harris', swamp and tree sparrow, even juncos are part of the sparrow family.

But encouraging the non-native house sparrow threatens our native songbirds whom we've grown to love and entice by offering birdhouses, bird feeders and bird baths. Among these favorites are bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, tree swallows, basically any of the native cavity-dwelling birds are in jeopardy of deadly situations when house sparrows are present.

Although it's legal to trap and dispose of this nuisance bird (European starlings too), many hold the opinion that they are all G-d's creatures and deserve to be here... and just "be". And that's okay, but please don't encourage them to nest and thrive.

Until one has witnessed a brutal attack on nestlings (and even adults) in order to claim a birdhouse, the full extent of their carnage remains unknown.

House Sparrow Photo by Raymond BelhumeurBest to learn your sparrows, or at the very least learn to identify the song and appearance of the dreaded house sparrow. Many frequently seen sparrows do look alike, though the house sparrow (originating from Europe) is unrelated. Found is suburbs, farms and cities, it's actually part of the Weaver Finch Family, which deems the species as non-native. Their song is deceiving, they visit bird feeders and birdbaths, and for some, it's the only bird they're able to attract so they "take it".

Here's where a field guide comes in really handy, or one of the many free apps for bird ID. This page has great info on their massive range and identifying the bird.

And last but not least, a video via birdhouse cam showing a brutal attack on a chickadee nest inside the house. We wont' post it here as viewer discretion may be advised and it is lengthy (but very interesting).

While the sparrow sings to claim the box, you can see nestlings honker down and freeze as they sense danger! Luckily, these chicks were old enough to escape the massacre, but a few days earlier would have proven a fatal outcome.

We're not saying don’t put up a birdhouse, but just realize there comes with it a responsibility for the feathered friends who take up residence... real estate's tough out there and competition can be fierce!

Please don't encourage house sparrows, they masquerade as sweet birds... Happy Halloween!