music; ambience: bird song
“Today I’m cleaning out my nest boxes in preparation for the upcoming season.”
What’s a birdwatcher do when an aggressive avian species moves into your backyard? Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.
“I have a mix of wooden boxes and plastic gourds placed on freestanding poles around my property.”
Joni James is a participant in Cornell’s NestWatch, a nationwide network of citizen scientists that monitor bird populations. Joni’s taking action against a particularly invasive bird species.
“I’m also plugging the entrance holes to the boxes and gourds so that house sparrows cannot place nesting material in them.”
So why discriminate against the house sparrow? Well, this common bird, an invasive species, can cause a great deal of trouble among other, native species.
“House sparrows are very aggressive competitors for nesting sites and they are not native to North America. They will often kill other cavity nesters in order to claim a site.”
Well, not all sparrows are troublesome, though; it’s only the house sparrow whose nest can be legally removed.
“I’ve already pulled out two house sparrow nests out of boxes which were not plugged. I plugged the entrances with foam from the flotation devices that children use in pools. I cut them in about two inch donut sizes and then cut them in half to squeeze into entrance holes. So far I’ve been able to keep them out.”
If there are an overabundance of house sparrows where you live, one simple solution according to the folks at NestWatch, is to eliminate nest boxes. They’ll only add to an already inflated population of these destructive birds. Please visit our website for Joni James’ blog, that’s pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.