Frequently Asked Questions


Trapping suggestions

Have a plan...  Practice...  and Be Ready... 

Be Ready:  Have all of your nest boxes set up for a trap.  Install mounting screws of the inside of the fronts of all your boxes whether you need a trap in that particular box at that time or not.  The screws should be left in the box and do not interfere with nesting birds. 

Practice:  Practice putting the trap into the nest box.  Quickness will be in your favor.  Placing and setting the trap within the nest box, closing the box, and leaving the area within 5 to 10 seconds will increase your ability to capture house sparrows more effectively.  They will be watching you from a distance and become extremely suspicious of re-entering a box if you linger in the area.  Set the trap and be gone -- and do not look back until you are away from the area. 

DO NOT make eye contact with the sparrow! 

This may sound silly...  But you need to do this...  The house sparrow will be watching you -- and your eyes.  If you spend a long time near the nest box, especially if you are "doing something" to the box, the house sparrow will become skeptical and wary about returning to the box.  If you are able to set a trap within 5 to 10 seconds and be gone, you may have the sparrow trapped in just a few minutes.  The longer you spend around the box, the longer it will take for success. 

Using this advice, sparrows have actually been trapped in less than 30 seconds.  Although it may sound silly, it works!

Removing a Trapped Bird from a Nest Box after Capture

We suggest using a large, clear (or lightly frosted) plastic bag or fine net bag -- large enough to fit over the entire nest box and down onto the pole.  IMPORTANT:  Do NOT use a black trash bag!!  You need to be able to see through the bag to be sure what you have trapped. 

Place the bag over the entire nest box and hold it shut tightly around the pole.  With the other hand, pull the door pin and work the door open.  The bird will leave the box and flutter inside the bag.  Corner the bird inside the bag (bag and bird together), release the bag around the pole, and carefully transfer the bird from the bag into your free hand. 

At this point, PLEASE BE CERTAIN you have captured a house sparrow and not a native songbird.  We recommend humane disposal of house sparrows.  However, since the trap, itself, does no harm to the bird it captures, if a protected species has been trapped, it may simply be released unharmed.  NOTE:  If a bluebird becomes captured, they quite often are likely to return to the same box as long as they are safely released. 

Also, please read instructions and warning that come with every trap. 

Why should I trap house sparrows?

 First, be clear that these traps are intended for trapping only the "English house sparrow," which is actually not even a "sparrow" but instead is a Weaver Finch.  These birds are NOT a native species and, since their introduction into the United States, have become extremely invasive and are highly problematic for all our native song birds.  They are very aggressive and will readily overtake nesting boxes thereby preventing reproduction of the native birds.  Not only will they prohibit nesting, they are known to kill adult and baby birds within the nest boxes.  Because they are not native birds, they have no protection under the federal migratory bird regulations and it is completely legal to dispose of them.  If they are simply captured and released, they will only continue to cause problems.  Humane disposal is highly recommended. 

Do I need to trap both the male and female house sparrow?

 The male house sparrow is the major culprit and is the one that will actually kill other birds.  Most of the time, the male is the one to find and lay claim to a nesting site and then proceed to call in a female.  If you place a trap and capture the male at this point, you will not need to worry about capturing the female...  she has either not arrived or will abandon the site if the male is gone.  If a nest has been established, you may need to capture both.  However, the males are extremely wary and may become hard to capture.  If you capture the female first, dispose of her and reset the trap in order to capture the male.  You will need to continue trapping until you capture the male for sure.  If the male is captured first and the nest is not yet established, you should not have to reset the trap.  The male is your main target. 

Should sparrow nesting material be removed from the box before setting the trap?

 Yes, if there is enough nesting material in the box that the trap comes in contact with it.  Simply remove all but a little and temporarily drop it on the ground.  Remember, quickness is crucial.  Then, after the bird is trapped you may properly dispose of both the bird and all of the nesting material.  Sometimes, a bit of nesting material fluttering on the ground below the box even entices a sparrow to re-gather it to take back into the box! 

Mounting the Van Ert Universal Sparrow Trap in a Side-Opening Nest Box

Suggested Tools:  Short or Stubby Phillips Screwdriver, Drill with 1/8-inch bit, an Awl or Nail for marking... 

If you have a side-opening nest box, this method will help you install the trap mounting screws on the inside of the front of the box.  Once the screws are installed, they should just be left in the box after trapping is finished. 

If the side door can be easily removed (e.g., attached with and pivoting on screws), take it off the box and lay it aside.  This will give you a little more room to work.  The trap comes with two templates for the location of the mounting screws -- you will only need to use one at a time (the second one is a spare). 

NOTE:  We suggest perhaps gluing or taping a template onto a piece of cardboard to make it even easier to handle. 

Place a template on the OUTSIDE of the box front about 1/4-inch below the bottom of the hole... mark the screw positions with the awl or nail... then drill 1/8-inch holes completely through the nest box front.  Now you have two holes on the inside to use as pilot holes for the screws.  With the short Phillips screwdriver, place the screws into the pilot holes.  They will go into the wood fairly easily.  Do NOT screws the screws all the way into the wood.  You need a little space to slip the trap onto.  You do not need to tighten the screws onto the trap... simply hang the trap on the screws.  You will be able to easily mount the trap in the future and just remove it when you are finished.  Remember, the screws stay in the box for the life of the box. 

Replace the side-opening door.