Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

April & May 1891. Oologist 8(4&5): 88.

The English Sparrow.

A number of years ago few English Sparrows were to be seen in Nebraska City. When the packing houses located here, they constructed a large number of sheds and yards. This was a perfect paradise, for the Sparrows, for food could be procured easily. Their whole time was occupied in constructing nests and rearing young. Soon this place became to small for their numbers. Some ejected the Blue-birds and Martins from their homes, others laid claim to the woodpecker's holes, still others took possession of the Bank Swallow's burrows along the river.

In the fall of 1889 two lonely Sparrows were seen to alight on my Grandfathers farm which is a distance of six miles from the city. Early in March 1890 they returned and immediately established themselves in a nest, that had been built and occupied for years by a pair of Barn Swallows. When the Swallows returned they were promptly driven off by the squatters. Instead of the pleasant twittering and flash of gay wings, we heard nothing but the harsh rasping scold of Passer domesticus throughout the whole summer. After the breeding season was over I found by a careful examination, that the flock contained fifteen members. But a sad day came,—they left. Over the side of their old brood-nest an unfortunate Sparrow swayed, to and fro, in the breeze, hung by a horse hair.

I send the following newspaper clipping, hoping the readers of the Oologist who have the future safety of our native birds at heart, will try this way of exterminating this free-booter, who evidently thinks this whole universe, with all it's Wren, Blue-bird and Martin boxes were constructed for his especial benefit: "Dr. S. B. Collins, the noted opium and morphine habit doctor of the world, gives a sure and safe way of exterminating the pesky English Sparrow. He says feed them corn-meal and salt, one pint of salt to one peck of corn meal. The salt should be dissolved in water and thoroughly mixed with the meal, then dried. The best time to destroy them is in cold weather, when food is scarce. Within thirty days every Sparrow in the United States can be exterminated."

  • J. Ellis McLellan,
  • Nebraska City, Neb.