For weeks I’ve been on a crusade to get rid of House Sparrows that settled in over the winter. We’ve never had many House Sparrows. I only put out millet in the winter months for the White-Throated Sparrows and the Dark-Eyed Juncos. Each winter, I might get a couple, but they have always left once I stopped offering millet in the spring.
But this year, the House Sparrow population built up gradually over the winter. Now I typically see nearly twenty at a time and they’ve become a problem. If I let them stay, they will nest here and the numbers will climb like crazy. They need to go. This is the story of what has turned into one of my biggest bird feeding challenges. In the end though, I did get the House Sparrows to leave.
We’ve lived in our house for 34 years now. In all that time, I’ve only seen Eastern Bluebirds once or twice. Even then, they’ve never stayed long . . . until now. For the past few weeks, two male and one female bluebird pop up at the feeders periodically. Most days I see them for at least a few minutes. I’m trying to encourage them to stay.
This post will be a bit different than my usual posts. Instead of sharing everything I’ve learned afterwards, I’m going to offer a real time journal along the way. Hopefully I’ll be able to report that I’ve succeeded in enticing a pair to stay and nest in the yard. I hope you’ll take the journey with me.
When I was a kid, we called Dark-Eyed Juncos “snow birds.” Until I started bird watching later in life, I thought that was their actual name. To us, seeing a snow bird was a sign. It meant that it was going to snow, leading to snowmen, snow forts, saucering down the side hill and a day off of school. I suspect this childhood joy may still be a little part of the reason that I still love these little birds today. Even today, when I know that birds don’t cause the weather, I still feel joy when I see the first of the juncos and their winter pals, the White-Throated Sparrows arrive in mid-fall. Here is what I do in my yard to make sparrows happy during the winter.