Invasive Species Spotlight – House Sparrow
The House Sparrow is perhaps the most adaptable and prolific bird species on the planet. Often called English Sparrow, its scientific name Passer domesticus, is Latin for small, active bird belonging to the house. It is native to Europe and has spread to all corners of the world. Its adaptation follows human civilization. Where there are people, there are House Sparrows.
House Sparrows are about six inches in length and are cavity nesters. They are about the same size as Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows. That’s why they all compete for nest boxes. Make sure your boxes have an entry hole no larger than ONE inch in diameter. If larger, another invasive, non-native, European bird, the European Starling, will invade the box.
They are Not Native to North America
This bird is not native to North America. It is an aggressive species that will take over the nesting sites, territories, and food sources of native birds. Therefore; it is an invasive, non-native species that is very difficult to manage. For a more detailed description of the bird go to this link at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
House Sparrows Attack and Kill Nesting Native Birds
Some years ago, I opened one of our nest boxes to find a House Sparrow sitting on her eggs. She quickly flew away. Something was unusual. She built her nest on top of a Tree Sparrow nest. I removed the aggressor’s nest, tossed it on the ground and crushed the eggs. Underneath the nest was a dead female Tree Swallow. Her head had been crushed in by the attacking beak of the aggressor. The Tree Swallow’s eggs were still in tact. How horrible a death.
For more information on House Sparrow attacks and management of this invasive, aggressive bird, click here.
Identification of House Sparrow Nests and Eggs
Their nests are easy to identify. They always have a “dome” or roof over the nest and they always have feathers in them.
The presence of the dome, in a nest box, is a tell-tale sign that it is a House Sparrow nest. The nest material is rather “trashy”, made up of all kinds of material including various feathers.
The eggs are dark brown and white speckled.
If you find a dome shaped, trashy nest with feathers in your nest box, take it out and destroy it. You will be helping native birds find a home. But be vigilant, the House Sparrow will persist, so must you.
© Robert N. Whitescarver 2017
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