The House Sparrow: A Deceptively Innocent Looking Pest

In 1903, Author W.L. Dawson wrote in his book, The Birds of Ohio , “Without question the most deplorable event in the history of American ornithology was the introduction of the English Sparrow.” The English sparrow is most commonly known as the house sparrow today, and this non-native bird continues to cause problems wherever it chooses to live.

The small birds seem innocent and harmless at first, but their behavior towards other birds and their ability to multiply quickly soon shows how problematic the creatures can become. House sparrows are social among others of their kind but aggressive towards all other birds. Home and property damage can occur if the sparrows are not kept under control.

Recognize the Bird

House sparrows are attractive full-bodied birds that grow less than six inches long. Females and young sparrows have gray breasts and black and beige colored striping on their back and wings. Male plumage is much more vibrant than the feathers on the female. The male has defined color stripes on its back and a strip of black under the beak that blends to the chest.

Understand the Concern

Homeowners should not allow the house sparrow’s diminutive size and pretty plumage to fool them. The birds have little fear of humans and will live wherever they can make a nest and find food. The birds will attack native birds and destroy their nests to claim territory for themselves. The behavior can lead to declines in the population of beneficial native birds.

House sparrows breed quickly and can produce many young. The birds often begin breeding again as soon as they have hatchlings. Most females lay around five eggs at a time, and the babies can leave the nest in as little as four weeks after the eggs are laid.

House sparrows can cause crop damage because they eat any stage of fruits and vegetables. The birds enjoy seeds and seedlings as well as flowering plants and buds. Mature fruit and vegetables are also a popular food choice. House sparrows will eat livestock grain from the bins where the animals eat as well as where the grains are stored.

Expect Some Damage

Homeowners without gardens or livestock may feel they have no reason to dislike the nuisance birds, but that is not true. The sparrows will happily remove food waste from garbage cans or picnic tables and leave their droppings everywhere. House sparrows also take over birdfeeders and chase away all other types of birds.

The nests of the house sparrow can be anywhere, and they often build on roof nooks, along windowsills, and on the surfaces of AC units. The communal birds place their nests near each other, so the debris can become surprisingly abundant where they have chosen to nest.

Nests built inside a vent on a home or business can block the vent so it does not work properly. A blocked vent can become a hazard for the people inside the building if it means that fumes cannot exit. The nests also make the vented equipment fail and are a fire hazard.

Noise is another factor. Once a population of house sparrows swells, the sounds the birds make as a flock can become distracting. The song of the birds is pleasant, but the volume can awaken people early or become an annoyance.

Nest removal and deterrents often help to lower house sparrow populations, but homeowners may struggle to keep up with a large population that has already established itself on their property. At Craig & Sons Termite & Pest Control, Inc., we can help with the removal and offer advice to help you keep the pests away. Contact us for more information.