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Our hope is diminished

A second family of Bluebirds came to check on a nest box at the corner of the vegetable garden a few weeks ago.  Then they decided to build a nest.  We were so happy that this year we will have two Bluebird families raising their chicks in our garden. I kept  my eye on them whenever I could to make sure that the House Sparrow didn’t take over the nest box.  I saw her diligently bringing in nesting material while he kept his eyes on the predators and menace.  Both of them helped to pick off insects in the vegetable garden when they’re not busy with nest building.

He keeps an eye on the nest and garden.

I was outside watering the vegetable garden this morning when I saw a little blue egg on the ground under the nest box, cracked open. My heart sunk.  My first thought was the House Wren’s work since they are nesting in a box near by.  But the Wren wouldn’t take the eggs off a nest; they would have just poked a hole in it. Unlikely though since they have already built a nest and layed eggs.  Then I saw the monster on top of the tool shed, a male House Sparrow.

I understand now why many Bluebird lovers suggest killing the House Sparrows, especially the males.  I caught two male House Sparrows earlier this spring and Bill drove them miles away from home and released them.  They are a complete pest: eating only from your bird feeder, stealing nests from other birds, picking off your seedlings and flower buds, and on top of that they don’t sing.  As much as I like to be rid of them permanently, killing them is not our preferred option.  Until this morning.

She's building a new home.

 

He was up there chirping (not singing), claiming his territory.  He came down to the nest box as soon as I left the vegetable garden, checking the roof and inside the box.  That was it.  My peaceful morning is ruined.  We have to figure out how to get rid of him.  Preventing him from nesting in the box is easy, just keep checking the box and remove the nest.  But getting rid of him completely from the garden so he won’t be a menace to other small birds is a totally different matter.  I was lucky in catching two of them when they chased a Tree Swallow and a House Wren off nest boxes.

This is the damage the House Sparrow has done.

Bill told me he hasn’t seen the Bluebirds since this morning.  We just hope that they are fine and didn’t give up hope to nest in our garden.  Bill removed the Bluebird box in the front yard since the chicks have already fledged and cleaned it up.  We will put a clean house back on the post tomorrow, to give them an alternative nest box.   Hopefully, they will find it appealing enough to start over in a new box. Until then we are in mourning.