Okay....I must admit, I have a fondness for Chickadees. While in Alaska I saw my 6th species of Chickadees; that being the Boreal Chickadee. So...the Boreal, Mountain, Chestnut-backed, Mexican, Black-capped and Carolina...with only the Gray-headed to encounter. And to do that, I need to rebook a flight to Alaska but this time I need to catch a dogsled or something, as I find my way to Nome where they reside.
So recently in my back yard when the Carolina Chickadees stood their ground concerning their nest, as the Bluebirds attempted to take control, I wasn't too upset. While we are sad the Bluebirds are not in our sight, we are content with the Chickadees being in the lime-light...the sweet and innocent Chickadees. But in the process of learning about their nesting manners, I came across some alarming information concerning the House Sparrow.
While not native to North America, it is widespread. I have been in all 50 states and have seen a House Sparrow in all states. Why? For one, they are VERY prolific. House Sparrows average '20' chicks per season (2-3 clutches in a year). If left unchecked, a single breeding pair of house sparrows might grow to over 2,000 birds in 5 years. And to boot, these birds live on the 13 1/2 years. WOW....
Now compare that to the innocent Chickadee. They might have 3-5 eggs per season (as opposed to 20 for the House Sparrow), so you do the math. In addition, their life span might only be 2 1/2 years. WOW, what a difference.
That is just the numbers...now, what more makes the House Sparrow not a good species? For starters, they kill Chickadees as well as Bluebirds. You can do your part by preventing House Sparrow inhabitation of nesting boxes by 'not having a perch' on the birdhouse. House Sparrows are perching birds while Chickadees are clinging birds and do not need a perch. So the simple lack of a perch will help, but that won't stop them for long.
House sparrows will take over a nest.....and by taking over, they take over. You might begin to notice a case of hematomas on the top of Chickadees heads or even Bluebirds. This is where the crown is featherless, as House Sparrows will attack other birds and peck away at them. Sometimes the victims will die and the House Sparrows will just leave the dead bird in the nest, ....just cover it up to hide their innocence of the crime I suspect. Juveniles might have broken necks, or eyes pecked away. They will starve the young and toss out the corpse. But to cover their crime, they will pick up the corpse and move it away from the nest.
Then...watch the food in your feeders. Who is it attracting? When you purchase bird seed, well....it is perfect House Sparrow food. House Sparrows are a bit lazy and like to take the easy way out in terms of feeding. So instead, purchase Striped or Black Sunflower Seeds as a way to slow down their love for seeds. Mix a bit of Fruit like food into the mix and use Saffron Seeds. You will note that the minute you change the food within your feeders, initially the House Sparrows will visit, as they are used to visiting, but they will hang around the feeder like an middle school boy in sock-off, yet rarely eat since they don't like that food.
While it is nice to hear the chirping of House Sparrows....as I did last night after our BBQ, I would sooner hear the morning alarm of the Carolina Wren, or view the splash of blue as Bluebirds do a fly-by. Or listen to the call of an innocent Chickadee ....
The Chickadee by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Then piped a tiny voice had by,
Gay and polite, a cheerful cry,
"Chick-a'dee-dee' saucy note
Out of a sound heart and merry throat
As if it said, "Good day, good sir!
Fine afternoon, old passenger
Happy to meet you in these places
Where January brings few faces.