Saturday, May 06, 2006

Why I hate house sparrows

This is the link that made me realize what a house sparrow can do to another bird.
WARNING: This page contains some graphic pictures of bluebird adults/chicks after HOSP attacks.


LauraHinNJ said...

Yuck! Nasty birds with bad habits.

Shannon said...

I know you hate them Susan, but Mother Nature does not make mistakes. She knows what she is doing and they serve some purpose. I don't exactly know what, but some purpose. Hey, maybe their purpose is to annoy you!

Susan Gets Native said...

Mother Nature had nothing to do with bringing ENGLISH house sparrows to America. Some dumbass HUMAN thought the HOSP would eat up all the pest insects that were ruining crops...the HOSP are mainly SEED EATERS and THEY ate the crops. And they left behind, in Europe, the diseases, predators they evolved with and have become a major strain on the resources of native birds. In Europe, they have a purpose. They have NO PURPOSE HERE.

Shannon said...

Well then we know for sure that there only purpose here is to annoy the crap out of you. Seems as thou they are doing their job of that very well. Good for you Susan, your passion for birding is inspiring. Sorry to go blank during your bird talks on Friday.

Susan Gets Native said...

That's okay...but it was funny to see your eyes glaze over as I started in on "okay, the subadults are the ones who are more likely to begin colonizing a new site.." You really did go blank. Not everyone can be passionate about birds. So long as everyone is passionate about something.

Accept Them said...

Your mind is so shut that you've ignored the beautiful qualities of house sparrows. This is nature, you can't go around hating everything that does what you qualify as wrong.

Susan Gets Native said...

"Accept Them":
Hi. Don't know you, and it sounds like I don't want to. I'd like to make a point- I appreciated the beauty of house sparrows while I was in England, which is where they are from. I do NOT appreciate house sparrows when they murder baby bluebirds for no other reason than they can. I do NOT appreciate the person whose "brilliant" idea it was to bring them to North America and start one of the most ill-fated introductions known to man.
Their very presence is unappreciated. And please educate yourself before you approach me about nature. House sparrows are NOT, in any way, shape or form, part of the NATURE of North America.

Janet said...

Dear Susan,

Humans are no more native to north america than house sparrows, and by all accounts, we humans have done far more damage to other species and have inflicted far more pain and suffering on other animals than the house sparrow could ever do.

The natural habitat of bluebirds is open area with tree cavities, such as that produced by forest fire, outbreaks of tree pathogens, blowdowns, and beaver activity. We can also create good bluebird habitat using good forestry practices, retaining cavity trees and snags. House sparrows rarely nest in natural tree cavities unless they are near human sources of food, such as bird feeders or livestock feed.

If you want to help bluebirds and a myriad of other species, forget about nestboxes and lose your hatred for a little bird who couldn't possibly do as much damage to native ecosystems than you yourself have done simply by consuming enough resources to exist in modern society. Instead, use your time and money to support land protection, educate others to tolerate beavers, and support good forestry.

Susan Gets Native said...

Wow. Did you just say that humans aren't native to North America?
But let's avoid a lengthy discussion about aboriginal people, shall we?
And if you took the time to read just about ANY OTHER post on my blog, you would see the effort I put forth to make the natural world a better place. It's easier to just spout off self-importance, but hey. My blog's a good read. And when you have read more, you can come back with more opinions.

Janet said...

Wow indeed. You need to do some reading. Like house sparrows, humans did not evolve in North America. Exact timing is unclear, but the leading theory at present has it that people came from Eurasia to North America across the Bering land bridge during the last glaciation, around 15,000 years ago.

Glad to hear you like nature -- well, most of it, anyway. Keep up the good work.

Matt said...

Janet, I think the point is that the house sparrow and starling have devasted many native cavity nesting species. As a lover of native birds and bluebird trail manager, I will trap and kill any house sparrow or starling I can. I do this with alot if sadness and regret. Emphasis on sadness and regret. Persons like me whose passion is to help native birds are faced with a tough decision. Ignore and stand idle while house sparrows continue to contribute to native bird species declines or work to aggressively control house sparrows and starlings by eliminating them as competition for native birds. Again with alot of sadness and regret, I choose the latter, knowing I am helping native birds.

Janet said...

Not clear if starlings have had negative impact on native cavity nesting birds:

House sparrows are even less of an issue because they stay near human sources of food and they are much smaller than starlings. House sparrows go only where we attract them. If you choose to put up nestboxes near people and their buildings, you will attract them, and you're right, they will then compete with bluebirds and sometimes kill them. But remember that it is you who are drawing them into competition with native birds when you put up nestboxes. They generally do not compete with bluebirds out in beaver wetlands, blowdowns, burnt forest patches, or clearcuts, as long as those openings are surrounded by forest. Even a narrow buffer of forest is enough.

Bluebird sized nestboxes are, at best, beneficial to only a few bird species. Providing their natural habitat with natural tree cavities away from people and their buildings, bird feeders, and animal feeds, does so much more good for a myriad of species, bluebirds being one of them.

I am now a conservation biologist, and before that I managed a 30 nestbox trail for years so I am aware of the issues. I gradually came to the conclusion that nestboxes for small cavity nesters in the US are not much good for anything other than human recreation and education. And, anything that inspires hatred for another species, as Susan so clearly demonstrates, does more harm than good. It distracts people from dealing with the real cause of species decline and extinction: ourselves. Do some research and tally up how many species we humans have driven to extinction vs. how many sparrows and starlings have, and you will see my point. This is why I encourage people to take the larger view and think about habitat and entire ecosystems rather than pitting one species against another.

Sorry to have imposed on this blog. I accidentally happened upon it while preparing a presentation on house sparrows in the US and Europe.

Good day.

Matt said...


I have to respectfully disagree with much of what you say. I manage a 20 box bluebird trail here in Iowa. Natural cavities are basically non existent here and without nestboxes there would be no bluebirds in the area my bluebird trail exists. So at least in this part of Iowa, before the trail there were no bluebirds, now they exist. I agree natural cavites would be better, but the reality of modern agriculture and urban sprawl makes this unrealistic. Plus I would dream of the day when bluebirds returned to where they historically nested prior to the introduction of the house sparrow: our backyards! Why artifically limit where bluebirds exist by writing off good habitat because of house sparrow prescence? Control house sparrows and level the playing field.

As for competition and the notion that putting up nestboxes promotes problems. My whole point is that the need for aggressive house sparrow control and putting up nestboxes is the only solution to right the wrong that was done when house sparrows were introduced in the United States. Here in Iowa, I have seen little difference in house sparrow interest in nestboxes placed in idyllic bluebird habitat vs. more suburban areas; house sparrows are omnipresent and an issue regardless of location. So the choice I see is do we let nature take its course or intervene on behalf of native species?

I have to also disagree that nestboxes offer little more than entertainment value. Again, I see many areas is Iowa where bluebirds have returned after decades of absence and the data that shows nestbox programs have increased bluebird populations nationwide.

I agree with you that we need to look at the big picture and the real threat to all species: habitat loss, but for me putting up and maintaining nestboxes (i.e. control house sparrows) is a concrete way myself and others can do SOMETHING to help a species succeed.

Finally, I can only speak for myself, but I do not hate house sparrows. Controlling house sparrows aggresively is a necessary task to succeed in helping native cavity nesters. I do not relish agressively controlling house sparrows.

Johnnie Ipock said...

House sparrows originated in Africa. They followed humans around the world basically.

Anonymous said...

I'm just wondering do you hate Jays and Corvids too? And can you consider yourself a true bird lover if you don't love all birds? Sparrows prove themselves worthy of survival. That's how nature works. It doesn't matter how they got here it matters they are more well equipped to survive here. If other birds can't compete that's their fault. Are you going to go out smashing sparrow nests and killing their young like some people who hate sparrows do?