At Mom's today, I did the rounds by checking and cleaning out her bluebird houses. She has four, but is not actively trying to attract bluebirds.
The first three had trashy nests, and no eggs.
Number four was a different story...
Five naked one-day old chicks and a warm egg. (See below for photos)
Now, I posted this morning how much I hate the little buggers, because I am trying my damnedest to get some bluebirds. And I tried to remember that as I carried the nest with the chicks and egg to the pond to leave in the grass. The chicks were peeping and begging.
In my head: They're House Sparrows...House Sparrows...you hate them...you hate them.
I got about 20 feet.
Returning the nest and inhabitants to the box, I had a rather unpleasant dichotomy raging in my head. Eggs, empty nests, no problem. Baby birds, no matter the species, I just can't do. Even eggs, I could throw away. Eggs don't peep at you, or shiver with cold or beg for food.
I spared the life of 6 House Sparrows today. I had it in my power to end their lives and the United States would have 6 less HOSP to contend with.
But I still couldn't do it.
It's made me wonder...how much of a hard-core birder am I? Do I care what those bird-or-die types will say?
Turns out that I don't care. I care about the sleepless nights I would have (and boy, would I!) and the anguish every time I walked by Mom's pond. I care about the life I held in my hand today...even if it was a House Sparrow life.
I couldn't do it.