How to Prevent HSP from claiming PM House

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Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2020 7:07 am
Location: New Jersey

This is my 3rd year with my PM house but no nesters yet. This year, though, I have lots of PM landing on my house and it looks like a pair are very interested. I did have HSP start a nest when the house first went up but removed it and closed the holes until the HSP started their nest some place else. All was good and the PM were left alone and looked like they were mating on my house. Now a neighbor has put up a bird feeder and the HSP are back. They are not making a nest as I check every day but they like to perch on the house and are always trying to scare the PM away. In spite of this the PM keep landing on the house and doing flybys. Actually when the HSP first arrived, there was a physical confrontation with the PM pair that were first interested on the house. I could see what looked like a mating ritual between them and it looked like they were trying to defend their house, but the HSP is pretty aggressive. They even hide in the holes and ambush the PM when they land. What can I do to keep the HSP away or should I let the PM and HSP fight it out. I'm thinking of getting a pellet gun to aggravate the HSP and hopefully they won't perch on the house. Or would I do better with a trap that I read about in your forums. One other thing, the HSP is quite fat so I think she is probably ready to lay eggs soon. I'm hoping that maybe once she does, she'll stay away from my house, but will the males keep coming to the house? I know this is lots of questions, but I am new and truly feel I can have a successful house once I can get a pair to nest. Just a note, I live on the bay with a lot of marsh land in New Jersey and there are so many PM flying around every day. There is a very successful house just a few properties down from me and I feel I have their newbies flying around my house. Thanks for any advice and help.
Posts: 682
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:15 pm
Location: Plano, Texas
Martin Colony History: See Signature


Very many will chime in as well but you must eliminate the house sparrow any way you can. There is no coexistence no matter what one might think or say. The house sparrow has the potential to ruin your desire to host Martins. So if you buy a pellet gun to harass him, harass him to death with one shot. Otherwise he'll become wise to your presence and you will not know when he comes in or out. They are pretty clever birds.

If you trap him do not relocate him. You must dispose of him in a humane manner of course.

Good luck to you,

2016 - late to put up, many visitors
2017 - 1 pair, 3 fledged
2018- 2 pair, 12 fledged
2019 - 4 pair, 21 fledged
2020 - 15 pair, 67 fledged
Posts: 3000
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Indiana/Henry Co.

Some people don't like to hear it but HOSP's will have to be trapped and killed or shot. I have heard of people trapping them and clipping their tails or wings so they can't fly as good and then releasing them but in that situation they will just die anyway so it is easiest to just dispatch them yourself. There isn't an effective way to just deter them, if they start landing on your housing then they must be trapped or shot. If you don't live in an area that is conducive to shooting either an air rifle of a rifle/shotgun then you will have to rely on traps. Let us know specifically which housing you have and we can show you which traps are best.
2020 Currently 42 nest, 110 babies, 64 eggs left to hatch(6-22-20) HOSP count-8
2019- 31 Pair over 100 fledged
2018- 15 pair last count 49 fledged
2017 3 SY pair nested, 12 eggs total, fledged 10. 4 additional SY's stayed all summer but never paired/nested.
2016 1 pair fledged 4
2015 Visitors
2014 Visitors
2013 Moved 6 miles away, 1 pair fledged 2.
2012 30 pair fledged 100.
2011 12 pair (11 that nested), 43 fledged.
2010 5 pair, 21 eggs, 16 hatched, 14 fledged.
Posts: 514
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:44 pm
Location: Iowa/Pleasant Hill
Martin Colony History: Started trying in 2012 and still trying

Your primary focus is on the male sparrow, you must eliminate him one way or another, the battle is not over until he is in the ash can. The same is true for any other male sparrow that makes a nuisance of himself.
2012 late start
2013 nothing yet, lots a lookers
2014 Bust again
2015 Bust again
2016 Bust again
2017 Bust again
2018 April 14 a group joined me, but moved on after a week
2019 Had SY male seriously check me out but didn't stay
Posts: 475
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:17 pm
Location: Raymore, MO

Agree they must be eliminated. Even if they are nesting somewhere else they are producing an offspring that will cause problems as well. Eliminate every chance you get.
Posts: 143
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:58 am
Location: Awesome Florida
Martin Colony History: Newbie in 2020: 2 pair of SY with 4 eggs each in Troyer Horizontals
fledged a total of 7 Martins

Welcome to this forum.
If you live near Cape May, check out Cape May Point state park lighthouse.
They have several T-14 setup and a nice exhibit telling the story of their
Martin colony. Trapping works good for me. I then use ether to eliminate them. 8)
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2019 7:48 am
Location: Stoddard, WI

This is my second year and I am fortunate enough to have one nesting pair. I kept the entrances to my gourds covered until the first martin appeared. Despite those efforts, the tape to one of the gourds either came off, or was torn off by a sparrow, and they immediately built a nest which I just as immediately removed and again taped the hole. Before the martins arrived, I also used my trusty RWS pellet gun to send a few of them to hell, or wherever they go. Sadly, they keep coming and, as another on this forum has pointed out, they are clever and quite skittish. In fact, they take off immediately if they see any movement through my living room window which faces the gourds. I have recently laid in wait for them a few times but have missed the only two shots I have been able to take. They don't sit in one place very long. Worse still, now that my nesting pair is incubating eggs, the sound of the pellet gun seems to greatly bother them and they take off, screaming. So, although I detest the sparrows (an emotion I have had since I was a child, well before my introduction to the world of purple martins), except to remove their nesting material every time I lower the gourds, maybe taking another shot or two while the pair is away from the gourds, and maybe trying out the sparrow trap I just purchased, I have decided not to worry too much about getting rid of them. Maybe next year, if I have more than one pair of martins and feel more confident about not losing them because of the sound of gunfire, I'll be more aggressive.
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu May 28, 2020 8:17 pm
Location: Oshkosh WI

I feed cracked corn all year to draw in the HOSP’s. Last year I got 61 of them. This year I am only at 14. It goes in cycles; one year I have a real high count, the next year low like this year. Sometimes it will be 2 months before I see one, then 5-6 appear and meet their demise.

I have been shooting them longer than trying to attract martins as they wreaked havoc on my tree swallows.

My setup is a Benjamin Marauder .25 pcp pellet rifle with a good 6x24x50 scope on it. If the sparrow is within 50 yards it’s lights out. Most are at 30 yards where the corn is placed.

While my setup is not in the price range for most people wanting to take out a few HOSP’s, a cheaper pellet gun with a cracked corn pile year round can really go a long ways to almost eliminating the problem.

Good luck, Chris
4th Gen Martin Fan
Posts: 1491
Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:19 pm
Location: TN/Collierville
Martin Colony History: I have been exposed to purple martin sounds in utero when my mother went out to get my father away from his martin colony.
I played around the martin colony every summer and watched as my father maintained his colony. In the late 50's until the 70's he did not notice European Starlings in south Texas.
When old enough, I helped maintain his colony. My primary task was eliminating English House Sparrows with a 1956 Benjamin 317 .177 air rifle.
When I settled into my own home, I started my first colony with an original Trio Castle and Trio Grandpa. When I moved again, I did not put up any martin houses. Frustration with European Starlings in the Southeast US was overwhelming.
Found PMCA Forum and learned about modern enlarged compartments and SREHs.
Inherited my father's last martin house, a Trio Grandma, modified it to modern specifications and have had good results since then.

Excellent job eliminating HOSP (English House Sparrows)!

Keeping working at eliminating the HOSP. The martins will scramble but return. You are doing the martins better service by continuing to either shoot or trap the HOSP this season.
Firm believer in HOSP/EUST Control, Enlarged Compartments, SREHs, Pole Predator Guards, Owl/Hawk Guards, Mite/Parasite Control, Housing Insulation, and Vents for Compartment Cooling.
PMCA Member.
Dave Duit
Posts: 1850
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit and join.

Shoot em. If you choose to trap, be sure you are monitoring the trap at all time in case a martin accidently gets trapped. If you decide to trap, do not relocate the sparrow. Kill it. Sparrows are nothing but trouble for a martin colony or any other bird nesting species. Best of luck in the elimination of the sparrows.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2020 7:07 am
Location: New Jersey

Thanks everyone for the advice. We tried shooting with the pellet gun, but definitely need more practice - not very accurate and the wind in our area is very strong. And we have so very many hosp in our area (the neighbor's bird feeder attracts them even more). I did have about 4 pm landing on my house with one being aggressive toward the Hosp. This lasted about 2 weeks. From their coloring, it looks like they are sy (light bellies). If they arrive in a group, two to four at a time, the hosp will fly away. If only one PM arrives, the hosp will run him off. I even sit below the house and shoo the hosp away myself. But they are smart and the hosp return as soon as I turn my back. I am amazed at their tenacity. I keep checking the house and the hosp is not building a nest. He just sits on the house all day singing his heart out and chasing away the PM. Originally the pm were spending all day on the house going in and out of the holes and sitting on the roof and singing very loudly and I thought I would have nesting, but I am not seeing as much action on the house now even though they are still flying all around. I don't know if the PM will continually fight the hosp until they nest or have I lost my opportunity for nesting this year? Should I just let the hosp go or should I still be diligent in checking and preventing the hosp from nesting? Since I have had so much interest this year, will these sy come back next year? I am very hopeful after seeing how strongly the pm were trying to defend the house when the hosp first showed up. One other question, I've notice the PM are not around as much once the temperature dropped a little and it has gotten really windy. I don't know if the lack of interest is weather related or they have moved on. Thanks so much for any help. I'm new but very anxious to start a successful and productive house. I think I forgot to mention that there is a pm house about 3 houses down from me and it has a lot of activity. I am hoping for the same. There are definitely enough pm here to support two houses.
Posts: 682
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2017 11:15 pm
Location: Plano, Texas
Martin Colony History: See Signature


Try to trap him if you can't shoot him.

But you have to get rid of him to be successful. And that is based on your account of what is going on between the HOSP and the Martins. The HOSP won't ever give up.

Find out what feed the neighbor is using and set up a trap with the same feed. You'll catch many HOSP doing this. I personally don't have an issue with HOSP but there are many on here that will recommend trapping options.

2016 - late to put up, many visitors
2017 - 1 pair, 3 fledged
2018- 2 pair, 12 fledged
2019 - 4 pair, 21 fledged
2020 - 15 pair, 67 fledged
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