The Sparrow Issue

The Museum Birdhouse is designed to attract nuthatches, chickadees, wrens, swallows, and other small birds that will use a nest box. Larger birds like the common House Sparrow (really old world Weaver Birds) are discouraged by the 1-1/4 inch entrance hole size. One of the birdhouses in the video had a larger entrance hole (1-1/2 inches) and sparrows did nest in it.  The nuthatches and wrens shown are nesting in houses with a 1-1/4 inch entrance. Many "birders" prefer to discourage sparrows from nesting since they are an introduced species that may monopolize available nest sites and compete with native birds like wrens, chickadees and nuthatches. That's why the Museum Birdhouses has a 1-1/4 inch entrance hole--to discourage larger birds like the ubiquitous House Sparrow. Unfortunately, the smaller entrance hole also discourages desired birds like certain swallows and bluebirds. 

There is, however, another side to the story. 

Perhaps no author puts it better than Kenn Kaufman in Birds of North America, p. 336. 

"This resourceful, spunky bird, adapted to living around humans, thrives in even in our biggest cities. Unpopular with some people (partly because it may compete with native birds), this sparrow is undeniably interesting to watch, and it adds a spark of life to urban settings that would be almost birdless without it. Male has black bib, white cheeks, gray crown, chestnut nape. Female, also attractive with a close look, with pale buff eyebrow, plain gray chest, strips of black and buff on brown back. Voice: variety of chirping and chattering notes."

And Donald Stokes in A Guide to Bird Behavior, Vol. 1, p. 268 says,

"Since the nests are used all year, except for a brief period in late summer, you can always see some nest-building activity—either repair, cleaning out of old nest material, or building of new nests. The main times of building are in the spring and briefly in the fall. Both male and female participate in the building, although an unmated male may begin a nest before advertising for a female. The birds can be quite amusing to watch as they gather material, for they often pick at bits of objects that are hard to break loose, and may spend up to 10 minutes working on a single twig. In winter, one or both members of a pair may spend the night in the nest for protection from the cold."

You can decide.

So if you would like to attract larger birds like sparrows and bluebirds you can special order a Museum Birdhouse with a 1-1/2 entrance hole. The price is the same but it may take a while longer for delivery.  A larger entrance may be a reasonable choice if you live in a very urban environment that is already dominated by these "spunky birds" and if you want to maximize you chance of observing some nest building. And, the Museum Birdhouse looks terrific in an urban setting, e.g., store front or apartment balcony. See the violet green swallow in the bird video. Or, you could get one of each.

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