Im my previous article I wrote about nest construction taking place in my nest boxes. But my greatest nightmare has come true. The nests were the work of house sparrows. The nests were (I say 'were' because I removed the nests upon discovery of their origins) in such an early state of construction at the time of discovery that I could not be sure if they were house sparrow or eastern bluebird nests. But yesterday morning (I procrastinated in drafting this article) when I entered into the kitchen, I used my binos to take a quick peek at the birdhouse to see if the mystery bird (at that time I hadn't yet discovered that it was a house sparrow) was about. I was quite ecstatic to see the distinct form of a tree swallow buzzing about the box. But my happiness was short lived. I saw, there on the roof of the birdhouse, why the swallow couldn't land on the box. It was being guarded by a house sparrow. I knew immediately what I had to do. Doning my rubber boots, I headed out to the nest box. Upon nearing the nest box, the tree swallow buzzed about my head and the house sparrow fled into the cover of a nearby shrub. I emptied the nest from the box, and returned to the house. The battle of the birds had begun.
The house sparrow nest as shown in my previous article. This box is now occupied by a pair of tree swallows.
I checked on the box frequently that day, watching as the tree swallows battled the house sparrows for dominance. But it did not take long for the tree swallows to emerge as the winners. Perched triumphantly atop their box, they warbled their clear melodic calls in a victory chant. They also had to battle off another pair of tree swallows after driving off the house sparrows, but once again they were successful in thwarting their opponents.
Now, one day later, the battle is still ongoing. True, the swallows took possession of the box, but when away, the house sparrows still go over to check the box out. Knowing the aggressive nature of house sparrows, my fear is that a swallow will get trapped inside the box and killed by a house sparrow. But I also know that tree swallows were on of the first birds in line when spunk was bein handed out. Cases of tree swallows being attacked by house sparrows are not as common as bluebird being attacked by house sparrows, but it certainly does happen. And even if one of the parents isn't ambushed, will the house sparrow(s) attack break the eggs, or attack the young swallows? I will do my best to help the swallows keep the house sparrows at bay, but I can only do so much, as can the swallows. But hopefully our combined effort (swallows are extremely territorial, and as I mentioned previously, are quite spunky) will keep the house sparrows in line. Now all I need is for a pair of bluebirds in my other box...
The tree swallows perched atop their nestbox, per today.