If you see lots of sparrows around your house this winter, you might want to pay close attention. Sure, these cute little birds might seem harmless, but the truth is that they can be a real pain if they decide to make your home their home.
House sparrows depend on humans for food and nesting, which is why you may notice that they aren’t afraid to get awfully close when you’re enjoying a sandwich on a park bench. They originally came to the US from England in the 1850’s, when eight pairs were brought to Brooklyn to control a growing moth larvae problem. The little birds quickly decided that they liked their new home, and their population grew to the point where they are now one of the most popular urban birds in the United States. And guess what? They don’t eat moth larvae after all.
According to the North American Bluebird Society, the breeding season for house sparrows can start from midwinter and each pair of sparrows may produce up to four broods a season. Of course, before sparrows can breed, they have to build a home. The male house sparrow’s bond with his nest site is stronger than his bond with a mate. So once he finds some prime real estate, you’re going to have a hard time serving him with an eviction notice.
The reason contractors like me aren’t the biggest fans of sparrows is because they love building their nests in tiny, warm and well-insulated places such as people’s roofs. They construct these nests using grass, straw, feathers, weeds, string, trash and other highly flammable materials and aren’t afraid to get comfortable right on a heat source, such as the light fixtures on the outside of your home. They are also partial to house spots that offer a bit of shelter, such as gutters and downspouts which can easily get clogged and cause roof leaks. So you can see why these cute little birds can cause a real headache if they decide to take up residence with you.
So what can you do to prevent sparrows from cozying up to your home? Believe it or not, a sparrow can fit into a hole smaller than one inch. Do an inspection around the eaves of your home to look for holes that could make a proper shelter. If you find some, you might want to consider installing mesh to keep the sparrows out. Also consider installing stainless steel spikes to light fixtures, outdoor speakers or deep door molding. Place covers over vents and check the screening over louvers before birds find their way inside. Keep garage doors and sheds closed to prevent birds from entering, and avoid putting out roost boxes too early as sparrows are generally the first birds out of the gates. Finally, consider removing brush piles, shrubbery or other natural shelter to reduce the amount of nesting material available.
Have you encountered a house sparrow problem in your home? What are your top tips to remedy the situation? I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email or message me on Facebook at wwww.facebook.com/odonnellbros.
Bob O'Donnell is the owner of O'Donnell Bros, Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Ask the Pro”. All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O'Donnell Bros, Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.