It’s time to buy another spool of fishing line.

Today is warm and sunny. Yesterday’s snow is melting, and it’s easy to believe that spring is just around the corner (never mind the forecast for another cold snap tomorrow).

The birds have noticed. The chickadees are house hunting. Unfortunately, so are the house sparrows.

Thus the need for fishing line.

I’m not a fan of house sparrows, and do whatever I can to discourage them from setting up housekeeping in the Outlaw Garden. Here’s why:

  1. House sparrows are not native to the United States. They were first introduced in the mid-1800s by European immigrants who missed their native birds. The sparrows, they argued, would help control insect pests. Except, house sparrows are seed eaters. Oops. Within a few short years, public opinion shifted so dramatically that the birds were declared pests and some states were already attempting to eradicate the birds. It was too late. The house sparrows were — and are — here to stay.
  2. House sparrows don’t need our help. Biologists estimate that house sparrows are among the most abundant species of birds in the United States. They thrive in cities and suburbs, raiding bird feeders and building their ramshackle nests wherever a bit of cover is available.
  3. Sparrows will bully — and kill! — adult and baby bluebirds. This is no exaggeration. House sparrows are aggressive birds, and if they take a liking to a nest box they will readily attack any existing occupants. This is very bad news for our native cavity nesting birds, such as bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, tree swallows, and many more.

The trouble is that house sparrows are small birds. Unlike the relatively gigantic European starling, we cannot keep house sparrows out of our nesting boxes simply by making the access hole smaller. They can fit into just about any bird house meant for bluebirds, and may even try to squeeze themselves into smaller houses built for chickadees or wrens.

Luckily, there’s one trick that does work. (There may be other tricks too, but this is the one I’ve used with good success). It’s a simple trick that requires only a few moments of your time and nothing more complicated than a hammer, a handful of thumbtacks, and a length of fishing line.

I’ve already shared this technique once on the blog. Check it out —> DIY: Easy House Sparrow Deterrent

If your yard is free of birdhouses, you needn’t worry too much about house sparrows. But, if you want to attract bluebirds and other ready-to-start-a-family feathered friends, please keep alert for home-wrecking house sparrows.

Do you keep bird houses in your yard? Any sign of house-hunting birds yet? Today was the first I’d noticed the chickadees (yay!) and house sparrows (boo) checking out the bird houses in the front yard. If the birds are house-hunting, spring must not be too far off. Yay!

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