Tuesday, September 8, 2015

enemy at the gates (or coop)

When we moved into our new house and became townies we inherited a couple of chickens from the previous owners. they were old and kinda rough looking and I assumed they wouldn't be around too much longer. I was correct about one of the hens, but the other has done pretty well and actually lays a few eggs every now and then.

Recently I noticed that her feed has been running out quicker than normal and finally figured out that I have been feeding a large number of local birds as well.  The ground around the coop is covered in small bird droppings, especially near the feeder. Now I don't mind feeding the occasional dove or other songbird, but as it turns out the culprits were house sparrows. A whole bunch of them.

So yesterday on my holiday off I decided to do something about it. A strenuous googling led to a couple of solutions: a sparrow-proof feeder and/or a sparrow trap.

I found a couple good plans for feeders, but I didn't have the necessary parts on hand to build a feeder. What I did have was half of a roll of hardware cloth from when I built a coop at our old homestead. I looked at several designs and came up with a simple funnel trap based on traps I had used previously for catching doves (a collateral duty at a previous job, we were catching doves for banding).

I set the trap out in the chicken run this morning before work and baited it with a little bit of layer pellets. When I got home this evening there were 8 house sparrows in the trap! It seems as though I've won the opening battle in this war of the coop.

House sparrows (along with European starlings) are not protected by Federal or state (at least here in Texas) law. They are a nuisance species and can be dealt with as such. They can also be pretty nasty little things to native songbirds. Purple Martin's and bluebirds seem to often be victims. They can also carry disease and parasites. Basically, they are like little flying rodents - mini sky-rats.

I'll try and get some decent pictures of my trap and post them tomorrow along with some of my observations on the design and construction.

God bless.
HH

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