View Full Version : Blaine sparrow traps
09-23-2008, 09:01 PM
Hellooo Peanut Gallery!
I'm the new guy on the block. Name is Monty. I've been working with blues for around 20 years now. Started in my early 20's and, even though I've moved into town, I still maintain and run my trail, alas, not as much as I used to, or should. But everything's taken care of. I know within a glance of the nests/nestboxes what's going on.
Before I posted anything on the Blaine sparrows traps from MNN, I ran a check on the archives to see if anyone has already been talking about them. I didn't find anything, so I thought I'd post about mine.
I've caught and dispatched about 60 h. sparrows so far --since receiving my trap in April. It may not be doing much for the war against them, but at least I don't have to listen to their annoying chirps now.
I want to thank Jean Pell and Evelyn Cooper for inviting me into this forum. We've gotten to know something of one another from a previous list we were on, and I wasn't sure that either of the ladies would want to invite me here, from having read my previous posts.
Someone had posted something along the line of surrogate parenting by other birds, in the event of orphaned young. I wanted to say that, I've experienced introducing orphaned young to another birds' nest. A gentleman approached me with days-old bluebird young whose parents had gotten killed, and asked if I had any nests with young. Of all the nests, we found one pair of tree swallows that had two eggs. We put the blue young in the nest and left.
Weeks later, I went back and found only two half-grown bluebirds in the nest. The tree swallow surrogates had evidently thrown their two eggs out for failed, and were raising the bluebirds. I went back in another week or so, and they'd fledged. I did feel bad about the tree swallows eggs, since they were good --I figured they would hatch and care for them too. But I was also thrilled that they raised the young blues. Good thing tree swallows and bluebirds share identical habitats!
Thank you for inviting me into this forum.
09-23-2008, 09:55 PM
Welcome to the forum. (no peanuts!)
I have a feeling that perhaps the TRES eggs might not have been good and the female removed them because of that. You said it was weeks before you went back to check and it may have been that they didn't hatch and when the bluebird babies did, she removed the eggs. It happens on my trail all the time. You can to to our website at www.labayoubluebirdsociety.org and you can see a clutch of bluebird and tree swallow babies that were hatched and raised together. They are in the "Pictures" section. I would be more inclined to think she instinctively knew the eggs were bad.
09-24-2008, 06:06 PM
Should I ever have HOSPs I will need your help with the whole process of trapping them.
I really never knew that Tree Sparrows would accept blue bird eggs plus raise them as their own. Is this the same with Bluebirds? Will they accept the eggs of Tree Sparrows? Are there any other birds that will do this? I wish to know, since I haven't seen Tree Sparrows here in my immediate area.
Thanks for sharing your experience with this.
Evelyn, I am going to check out those pictures!
Very glad you are here, Monty.
09-24-2008, 06:33 PM
I've never had the reverse happen; bluebirds raising tree swallow young, so I can't comment on that one. I could guess, but I won't.
09-24-2008, 06:57 PM
I need to correct my statement about bluebirds and tree swallows. It was a Black Capped Chickadee that took over the bluebird nest and laid her eggs with the bluebirds eggs still in there and brooded them and raised all of them.
I would wonder about the feeding habits of the tree swallows and the bluebirds. Aren't they different?
We have another thread where House Sparrows killed tree swallow parents and then to the monitor's amazement, the female House Sparrow fed the tree swallows until they fledged. He said he saw the fledglings begging every bird that came near for food!
Nature sure is fascinating!
09-24-2008, 07:26 PM
Whoops!!! I meant Tree Swallows instead of Tree Sparrows.
09-24-2008, 07:40 PM
I don't think their feeding habits are alot different. Bluebirds sit on perches and hunt, or they hover while hunting. Tree swallows just happen to feed on the wing. The best part about both, is that they require the same nesting quarters. I don't think either species would have a problem being a surrogate to the other's young. If you think about it, most young swallows require a few days before they can fly/feed very well. So their parents have to find them and feed them no matter where they land, even in trees. So neither bluebird or tree swallow should have much difficulty raising the other's young.
09-25-2008, 05:49 AM
Well, the time period that I was talking about is when the parents stop feeding the fledglings which is about a week to ten days after they fledged and then start teaching them to drop to the ground and feed themselves. (Bluebirds) Since the Tree Swallows do not drop to the ground to eat, how do the bluebird babies learn to eat? Also, the House Sparrows that fed the babies to fledging eat seed and anything else, so how did those bluebird babies learn to eat? Also, if other species should fledge Tree Swallow babies, how do those babies learn to eat on the fly? I have seen this discussed and questioned on other forums and no one really had an answer for that period where the babies need to learn to feed themselves.
I have never had two species of eggs in my nests. I have Carolina Chickadees nesting on my trail (two at the most). If a Carolina Chickadee should take a bluebird nest with eggs, I would have enough nests to foster the bluebird eggs to. But, if the bluebird should take over the Chickadee's nest, I would not.
I have a strong feeling in the case where the House Sparrow mother was feeding the Tree Swallows, that they might not have made it. However, the monitor did say there were Tree Swallows around them, so maybe they got with their own.
Thanks for sharing your story about this situation and it is not a common occurrence, or at least for me in my eleven years, it has not happened.
09-25-2008, 10:35 AM
I think our best bet is going to be chalking learning to fly/feed/etc. up to natural instinct. My parents neighbor lady used to think she had to take her h.bird feeder down in early autumn to "make the hummingbirds go to the woods to find their food for winter." Yes, she actually said that. Even though I explained that they migrate, so leaving her feeders up a little longer wouldn't hurt, she was insistent on taking them down.
I raised 5 robins once; 1 one year, 4 the next. I can't say I hated the experience, but it's one that I don't wish to repeat anytime soon. It's a real chore. Anyway, when I found one of them hopping around in the yard, I was curious what its reaction would be to a squirming worm in front of it. I dug up a small red worm and placed it within inches of the bird. It noticed the worm, turned its head --classic robin-style-- bent over, grabbed it and ate it.
I think natural instinct drives the young to learn these traits on their own. That's why so many young hawks end up as roadkills. They don't have the learned knowledge of their parents --sometimes-- to not fly low over busy highways. It used to be predators that dropped the percentages of young surviving through their first year. Now it's the four-wheeled "predators" culling the young.
09-25-2008, 05:06 PM
Very interesting information, Monty and Evelyn. I thank-you both.
Monty, I think it is great that you have caught 60 house sparrows so far. I would like to know how your trap works and do you continue to trap in the winter? Where do you have it set-up and how do you bait it?
I only see these birds here in the winter and not that many. They feed on the ground. Do you are anyone else feel that I should start trapping this winter?
I will do whatever it takes to protect our native birds.
09-26-2008, 11:21 AM
Jean, I will leave the setting up the ground trap to Monty. I have used the inbox trap and it works beautifully. I have used the Van Ert and the Huber trap. They fit on the inside of the door. I like the Van Ert best because you put screws on the inside of the door and you can slip off the trap and use it in another box. When you install an inbox trap, you have to watch it and check it at least every 30 to 45 minutes. If you get a "good" bird, no harm is done, just release.
One thing that caught my attention in your post. You said you only see these birds in the winter. Are you sure they are House Sparrows? There is a Sparrow named the Harris Sparrow and it has a black bib just like the House Sparrow. Its head and beak are a different color. Also, I have 4 different species of sparrows that migrate down here to LA and spend the winter with me. Be sure you have identified what you are seeing as House Sparrows. You can find a picture on the internet. When I get the time, I will send a link to a picture of each from my photobucket gallery and you can see the difference. You may not have Harris Sparrows, but some folks think all the sparrows are House Sparrows. I am not saying you don't know, but House Sparrows would most likely stay year round with you.
09-26-2008, 05:14 PM
Thanks, Evelyn I never knew that there was an "inbox" trap.
Hmmmm....I may not have I.D.ed the sparrow that visits here in winter correctly. I don't have a photo of it and do not remember the other details other than the "black bib". I may need to see your photos this winter should my bird book is not be clear enough for me. I do know this, they never went to the feeders with Black Oil Sunflower seeds. I did put out a mix with white millet, which I serve in a feeder Spring & Summer for my Indigo Buntings. I had read somewhere that House Sparrows love White Millet. So, I guess I need to know more about them and the Harris Sparrow. I will post here this winter when/if they arrive. I guess I am blessed I don't see them here in the spring and summer. Should I stop putting out the mix seed in winter on the ground? The Junco's love it.
09-26-2008, 09:50 PM
I haven't tried the trap in winter. I just received it this spring, but if you go to www.sparrowtraps.net, the site will tell you everything you want to know about them. Far too much information for me to put in here.
You can read testimonials from other trap-owners/-users, and view pictures of the traps in use. I was sold on it immediately. I have used in-box traps; traps that resembled nestboxes that hung from a hook on the back of the trap itself and was inserted into the entrance hole of the nestbox; and now am using this cage trap. I like them all.
09-26-2008, 10:13 PM
Thanks Monty, I will check this website out. So, you prefer the ground trap over the inbox? Can you give me more reasons why you do? Also do you have to bait the ground trap? If so, what do you use?
09-27-2008, 06:21 AM
Jean, people that have many, many House Sparrows (HOSP) use both ground and inbox traps. In my case, I only had one pair of HOSP, so I really didn't need a ground trap. However, one of our LBBS members was so infested with them, he bought two ground traps and 7 inbox traps. And, he bought the sparrow spooker to put on the box after the bluebirds or chickadees had laid their first egg. I also used a sparrow spooker on my boxes at the state park where I had my first encounter with the HOSP. I caught the male HOSP in the box with the van ert trap. Those HOSP's were messing wiith four boxes. They would take over the box that the bluebird had built after I removed the first HOSP nest. I would remove that nest, and when the bluebird moved to another box to start a nest, the HOSP's would go and take that one.
It seems rather odd that your Sparrows would move on come spring and summer and not bother you. That is what made me wonder if you have another kind. I have migrating Chipping Sparrows, Song Sparrows, and White Throated Sparrows. On my trail at home, I do not have HOSP's. Count your blessings if it is HOSP's you see and that they move on come nesting season!
One of our board members gave an excellent presentation at our annual meeting about HOSP aggressive control. He brought one of his ground traps, the Van Ert trap and the Sparrow Spooker. He pointed out that winter is an excellent time to trap, but also to be certain of the species you have trapped.
09-27-2008, 05:36 PM
Thanks, Evelyn I appreciate you sharing your experiences with the inbox trap, etc. I do wish I had been at that presentation.
Monty, I checked out the sparrow trap website. The pictures and videos where most helpful. I now understand what you are talking about. Also, the information on "spookers" helped. The map they showed indicated that there are several in operation in my area and many just south of me in Atlanta. I hope they can catch them all!
I am really disappointed in my bird books. Only one has this to say about HOSPs "some birders do not like them". The same book even lists it with song birds! How lame is this? Why has this information on how this birds prey on our native not been included in this books? They aren't that old.
I am blessed that they haven't been here during nesting season. Should they do show up, I will know what to do.
Much thanks to you, Monty, for enlightening me this past summer to this problem bird.
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