Stacey Cole's Nature Talks: Not much love in the world for the house sparrow
Strange as it may seem, the birds did not thrive and, in 1852, many more were imported. Those that survived that winter in confinement were released in Greenwood Cemetery.
In the early 1930s Dr. C. Hart Merriam of the U.S. Department of Agriculture prepared a consensus of reports from many sources containing evidence for and against the house sparrow. The results were: 168 "for," 837 "against" and 43 "neutral."
Unfortunately, the house sparrow reduces the number of some of our most useful native birds — bluebirds, tree swallows, house wrens and, occasionally, barn swallows — by destroying their eggs and young. In the case of tree swallows and bluebirds, the sparrows usurp their nest boxes.
Some home owners dislike these sparrows because of their frequent choice of daytime roosting areas in thick shrubbery close to their residence. In that location they call and chatter most of the day and have the ability to get on one's nerves after a while. In addition, house sparrows are most notorious for driving wrens, bluebirds and tree swallows from the nest boxes that they had already selected. Here at the farm it doesn't make any difference whether our native species, (tree swallows, bluebirds, and house wrens) have already selected a nest box, or a cavity hole in a fence post along our fence rows, these interlopers make life just plain miserable for them.
Another "imported" bird equally disliked is the starling. Small flocks of them spend the winter with us. Here in northern New England they can be found roosting on city buildings and even more frequently be seen sitting on chimney tops warming themselves in the rising heat. Some of these hardy souls remain in rural country. I have been told of individual starlings that found an opening in a barn or farm out-building and when the weather became extremely bitter have sat upon the backs of cows for warmth. Flocks of starlings can become a nuisance even during cold winters.
Stacey Cole's address is 529 W. Swanzey Road, Swanzey, 03446.
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