Backyard Chirper

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Fighting the dreaded house sparrow

While recently adding more informational articles about bluebirds to our bird learning center, I finished an article on protecting bluebirds from house sparrows. If you’re not a birding enthusiast, you may not realize how detrimental this species is to the survival of bluebirds.

House sparrows are an invasive species, native to Europe, that was introduced in America in 1850. At the time, Central Park in New York City was being decimated by a plague of green-inch worms. Since house sparrows in Europe fed on these worms, biologists decided to introduce the species in New York.

Over the last 150 years, the house sparrow population has become a considerable nuisance in itself. It has propagated across the country and now threatens the existence of many other species. Bluebirds are one of its favorite targets.  House sparrow will not only invade bluebird houses and take them by force, but it will also go on killing rampages, murdering bluebirds and their young. For this reason, bluebird enthusiasts feel particularly hostile about house sparrows.

How to get rid of house sparrows

There are two options for removing house sparrows: passive control and active control. Passive control involves refraining from feeding house sparrows, mounting bluebird houses away from house sparrow habitats (buildings and structures) and removing house sparrow nests.

Aggressive control

Aggressive control involves trapping and often exterminating house sparrows. Since house sparrows are an invasive species, they aren’t protected by wildlife laws and can be exterminated. Many bluebird enthusiasts recommend that after a house sparrow is trapped, you should kill it by cracking its breastbone with your hands. Another option that is used is clipping the house sparrow’s wings so it is unable to fly and will be eaten by predators.

I was surprised that many bird lovers have no qualms killing house sparrows. In fact, some say that releasing them into the wild is irresponsible.

Is it O.K. to take the life of a bird species simply because it’s undesirable? What do you think?


  1. I’ve cleaned out all my blue bird houses and keep the sparrows from successfully nesting in them but how do I trap a sparrow? Last week I found a dead bluebird. Heartbreaking! I’m really mad now!

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