English or House sparrows are flying varmints usually found in large flocks. They are an introduced species, not native to North America. The sparrows have made themselves right at home. We must have two dozen of the things plaguing our bird feeders this year. They’ve never been around in such numbers before.
The birds are little better than flying rats. They consume huge amounts of food and put bird droppings over everything. At night they like to bunk down in the barn, leaving a coating of bird mess behind. When they aren’t raiding the feeders in large gangs, they steal from the chickens, flying right into the coops to take feed.
This year we are going through more wild bird food than ever. We put out about fifteen dollars worth of food each week. I try to get the best savings by purchasing black oil sunflower seeds and safflower seeds in bulk then combining those seeds with the whole oat/cracked corn mix I give the chickens as scratch. Most wild birds will take the black oil sunflower seeds, cardinals like safflowers seeds, mourning doves eat oats and corn. English sparrows eat everything, very messily. They throw a good majority of the food directly on the ground. If other birds don’t pick it up quickly it is lost under the snow.
I would very much like to ping these pesky sparrows with a pellet pistol or trap them with nets. My husband says no, he can’t bear the thought of eradicating the poor little things. I explained they are nearly doubling the cost of feeding the wild birds, but that isn’t convincing enough. Since he’s paying for most of the bird food, I guess the sparrows get to stay.
By summer we will likely have fifty or so to contend with. At that point they will begin to steal chick food, fouling as they go, and I will get rid of the flying pests. The biggest concern for me is the sparrows introducing salmonella into the feed. Salmonella is carried by chickens with little adverse effect. When humans are exposed via raw meat and eggs, salmonella does its damage.
These little feathered devils can make big messes. They are especially troublesome at one of my local feed supply stores. The store has a very large warehouse with wide bay doors that are kept open during the day. English sparrows call the warehouse home. There are several dozen in residence. Enough grain spills to keep them well fed. Often a worker will load a bag of grain in my car that is soiled with bird droppings. It’s gotten so bad the store has started playing a tape of predatory bird calls to try to frighten the sparrows away. I can’t see that it’s working very well.
My mother, who lives in England, says English sparrows are in decline there. How I wish I could net several thousand of the nasty things and ship them to her. They are thriving in their adopted land.