Birds Blog

Nesting Season Part VI: Problem Birds

This isn't click-bait, it's true...some birds can be a problem at the nesting boxes.

This isn’t click-bait, it’s true…some birds can be a problem at the nesting boxes. So, here we go, this post is about problem birds.

House Sparrows


In addition to EABL, TRES, and HOWR, House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) use nesting boxes that are not meant for them. HOSP are not a protected species and steps to manage HOSP eggs must be taken. HOSP are the only species that can have their eggs and nests removed.

The reason that this must be done is because HOSP kill EABL and TRES. They are successful breeders and are considered an invasive species.

In order to remove HOSP eggs, and/or HOSP nests, you must be 100% certain that the nest and the eggs do in fact belong to HOSP. If you are unsure, do not touch the nest or eggs. Visit NestWatch for guidance on how to deal with live young.

Brown-headed Cowbirds


Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater) lay eggs in nesting boxes. BHCO are called brood parasites because they lay eggs in a different species’ nest (called the host species) and the host parent of that species raises the BHCO offspring. BHCO are a protected species and their eggs are NOT to be removed.

Female Cowbird

Learn more about amazing lives of the BHCO from the post, “Brown-headed Cowbirds Shake Bad Reputation – Sort of…” — they are truly fascinating. Don’t hate!

House Wrens


House Wrens are very successful breeders. HOWR kill other species that nest in their territory. They do this by either engaging in aggressive killing behavior, poking holes in eggs of other species, removing eggs of other species, removing nesting materials of other species, or by simply building nests on top of live nestlings. House Wrens undoubtedly have a negative impact on other species.

The best way to manage HOWRs from building nests on top of live nestlings of other species is to remove sticks that you notice on top of an active nest. HOWR are a protected species, therefore removing eggs, or nests is illegal. However, removing nesting material before a cup is formed is OK, especially if these materials are being put on top of existing nestlings. If you’re not sure, don’t touch!

The most important point to make here is that the law must not be broken and wildlife must be respected.

Good luck and stay tuned!

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Also read…

It’s a Sin to Kill a Mockingbird, but not for Hawks

Nesting Season Part III: The Right Box for You

Wordless Wednesday: Red-Winged Blackbird

Where the Screech Owl Wasn’t

5 Birds to Know in the Northeast this Spring

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