Greeting Dear Readers,
I had asked Ryan T. to be a Guest Poster. I hope you are as pleased with his informative Post as I am!
House Sparrows, Starlings, and Cowbirds: The eternal Struggle
These three birds are no stranger to most bird enthusiasts, but they can often invoke debates as if the problem had just revealed itself. On one side of the fence is the wildlife manager type that believes we should play a vital role in the success of our native species, while on the other side is the type that believes all things should be able to live no matter what their impact or how they got where they are. Naturally, this causes great division in the ranks of bird lovers. Unfortunately, in most cases you won't get a lot out of a debate between these people because they both believe too fervently in their cause to listen to what the other side is saying.
Seeing as though a debate won't help much, let's look at some facts in order to allow you to make up your own mind:
• House sparrows and starlings attack and kill nestlings and crack the eggs of native cavity nesters like the purple martin, tree swallow. and bluebird.
• Cowbirds lay their eggs in songbird nests to be raised by the unaware parent, often resulting in the starvation of the songbird.
• Though the cowbird is native, it causes such a problem that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service promotes the trapping of cowbirds in large numbers.
• The house sparrow and starling were introduced by man, meaning that they were not meant to inhabit this environment. The same situation has occurred with the Asian carp, ladybug, and cane toad-causing massive devastation to native species.
• Grackles and starlings gather in such large numbers that they cause $100-$120 worth of damage (measured in replanting costs) per acre on agricultural sites in Mississippi, for example.
• Due to the house sparrow's close relationship with humans it can act as a distributor for many diseases such as (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), to name a few.
These are just a few of the ways that these invasive species effect us and impact native bird species, a quick Google search will reveal many more. It is important that we become as informed as possible prior to making a decision one way or another in order to do what is right for our environment. If we aren't part of the solution, then we most certainly are part of the problem.
Saving Our Songbirds
Well done Ryan! Please check-out Ryan's site for more information and help on these birds. I also have the link on my Favorites List.
I will continue the Meanings of Birds Series on my next post.
Happy Birding to All!