In the 1850s, the sparrow was introduced into New York City’s Central Park to eliminate the destruction of trees by inchworms. Following these introductions, sparrow numbers increased rapidly. Today, sparrows are one of the most common birds in North America. House sparrows are considered to be persistent, resourceful, and intelligent birds.
Though described as tame and semi-domestic, neither is strictly true; humans have done a wonderful job of providing these birds with food and homes - enabling their populations to grow (one estimate is the sparrow population is 150 million). They have no interest in human companionship. Sparrows have been such a successful invasive species because of their rapid dispersal mechanisms, rapid easy establishment, rapid growth and aggressive competition with other species. One pair of sparrows can produce up to 20 chicks per breeding season. Sparrows are not exposed to the rigors and mortality of migration; they simply fly a few miles from the nest to take advantage of nesting sites and food sources available.
The house or English sparrow is a brown, chunky bird about 5 3/4 inches (15 cm) long, and very common in human-made habitats. The male has a distinctive black “bib” or stripe on their throat, white cheeks, a chestnut mantle around the gray crown, and chestnut-colored feathers on the upper wings. The female and young are difficult to distinguish from some native sparrows. They have a plain, dingy-gray breast with striped backs and a distinct pale tan “eyebrow” or stripe over their eyes. The black bib and chestnut-colored feathers on the wings are the first signs of male plumage and appear on the young birds within weeks of leaving the nest.
House sparrows consume grains in fields and in storage. Localized damage can be considerable since sparrows often feed in large numbers over a small area. Sparrows damage crops by pecking seeds, seedlings, buds, flowers, vegetables, and maturing fruits. They interfere with the production of livestock, particularly poultry, by consuming and contaminating feed.
Because they live in such close association with humans, they are a factor in the dissemination of diseases (chlamydiosis, coccidiosis, erysipeloid, Newcastle’s, parathypoid, pullorum, salmonellosis, transmissible gastroenteritis, tuberculosis, various encephalitis viruses, vibriosis, and yersinosis), internal parasites (acariasis, schistosomiasis, taeniasis, toxoplasmosis, and trichomoniasis), and household pests (bed bugs, carpet beetles, clothes moths, fleas, lice, mites, and ticks).
House sparrow droppings and feathers create janitorial problems, as well as hazardous, unsanitary, and odoriferous situations inside and outside of buildings and sidewalks under roosting areas.
Damage can also be caused by the pecking of rigid foam insulation inside buildings. The bulky, flammable nests of house sparrows are a potential fire hazard. The chattering of the flock on a roost is an annoyance to nearby human residents.
The house sparrow is found in nearly every habitat except dense forests, alpine, and desert environments. Sparrows typically prefer human-altered habitats, particularly farm and grassy areas. It is the most common bird in most urban areas.
House sparrows are primarily granivorous. Plant materials (grain, fruit, seeds, and garden plants) make up 96% of the adult diet. The remainder consists of insects, earthworms, and other animal matter.
Garbage, bread crumbs, and refuse from fast-food restaurants can support sparrow populations in urban habitats.
Sparrow control is about keeping unwanted, nuisance sparrows from landing, roosting, and nesting on structures using various deterrents. Bird deterrents may be physical, visual, or auditory. In urban and suburban settings, physical barrier deterrents are the most effective and practical long-term solutions for bird control.
Each solution must be designed to resolve the particular infestation at hand. Factors that must be assessed include the type of structure and the level of bird activity. In addition to choosing the right mix of deterrents, a proper installation by an experienced bird control specialist is essential.
Cowleys Pest Services will make your commercial building an inhospitable area for sparrows to land, roost, or nest. The objective is to have the sparrows take themselves and their droppings to another, friendlier location. With the right deterrents, the nuisance birds get the message loud and clear that your structure is an undesirable habitat once there is no longer enough real estate on your ledges and other areas to conduct their activities.