QUESTION: I have two bluebird boxes. The one that they have always used in the past is being used by black capped chickadees. So for the first time ever the bluebirds used the other box. The box is on an Ash tree so I put aluminum flashing around the tree just under the box so raccoons cant get into the box (I have had this problem before). 5 days ago we had a hard frost (temps got down to 29). Today when I opened the box I found one dead adult and three dead babies. This is the first time this has ever happened, and I would love to know why. Any help would be appreciated.
ANSWER: Almost always when this happens it is the work of the killer house sparrows which use their heavy bills to kill other birds. If this is what happened you should see damage to their heads. House Wrens will attack others too, but usually they kill and throw out young and destroy eggs and do not kill adults. If you will send your mailing address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will send you my free Bluebird book which will make you an expert. Good luck. Bluebird Bob Walshaw.
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QUESTION: Thanks, you are correct the damage was to the adult bluebirds head. My address is 61 McCleary Rd., Spencerport, NY 14559-2019
Also, what do you use to get rid of(Kill or deter) house sparrows? I have read several articles about different things to do, but I was wondering if you have 1st hand knowledge of what works best.
Hi Brian. The book is mailing this week. It will have contacts for in-box traps for the killer house sparrows.(The Van Ert is best) It is best to wait until an egg or two is laid so they are bonded to the box. Then usually you will catch the female and then the male the next day. When the trap is tripped you put a strong clear plastic bag over the box, let the bird into the bag and make sure that is a house sparrow and then just whack them. (They are very fragile and and this causes a quick humane death.) You can also shoot them with a pellet gun or go out quietly at night and you can usually at least catch the female on the nest.
Nearly 3100 copies of the book are out across the U.S., Canada and Bermuda, financed by my pockets and Bluebirders like you. Please help if you can.
There are five Bluebird associations in your state, in Scarsdale, Stamford,Schenectady, Albion and Richmondville. If you will tell me which one you are closest to I will send you contact information. Joining is a great way to learn.
Please contact me at email@example.com as that is much simpler than going through AllExperts. Good luck, Bluebird Bob Walshaw.