This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
In comparison with the house sparrow this is of small economic importance, though often mistaken for the latter on account of its almost exclusively nesting in trees. House sparrows, however, are great tree-nesters, making nests in trees by farmsteads, rural, suburban and urban dwellings and buildings, in preference to places where likely to be disturbed by cats or destroyed by human beings, a notable example of this being seen in house sparrows selecting a large Monkey Puzzle tree (Araucaria imbri-cata) by a farmhouse for nesting in preference to all other trees in the vicinity, probably their "reasoning" that cats are not seen after birds on that tree. The large nests and litter made by house sparrows on trees are great eyesores and detrimental to the health of the trees, therefore they should be pulled off whilst the birds are brooding so as to destroy the eggs or young, a pole with iron hook securely fixed to the top end being used for the purpose. Tree sparrows make a much neater nest, and usually some distance from dwellings, far more isolated and every way less social in habits than house sparrows, and more insectivorous in feeding, especially their young.
As a rule, they are not so numerous as to call for any repressive measures, but we urge the destruction of all sparrow nests in trees in the best interests of the aboriculturist.
In recent years pheasant-rearing fields and concomitantly pheasant and other winged game feeding-places, also poultry-rearing grounds and farms, have been greatly multiplied and extended, so that sparrows have been encouraged in localities where not formerly noticeable and destructive, and from necessity of circumstances nesting and roosting in trees; therefore regarded by not a few persons as tree sparrows. So great nuisances do these become that gamekeepers and poultrymen have recourse to trapping with some success, though sparrows, whether house or tree, are ever wary, and soon learn by fate of victims to keep clear of the cleverest devices.
One of the most useful traps is the wire cage, Fig. 109, consisting of light iron frames covered with galvanized wire-netting.
Fig. 109. - Boulton & Paul's Wire Cage or Trap.
It is made in three sizes, No. 2 being the one suitable for sparrows. It is 3 ft. 6 in. long, 2 feet, 6 in. wide, 2 feet 6 in. high, and covered with 3/4-in. mesh netting. There is a pocket or mouth (the trap may be made with a mouth on each side instead of one) by which the birds enter, and so constructed that they do not appear to be able to find the outlet, a very small percentage escaping. Before setting the trap the ground should be well baited with hempseed and the top left off so that the birds may feed inside as well as about the frame. When the birds are freely using it, bait well inside and put on the top and cover it with dry fern or fir-boughs, to make less conspicuous, sprinkling a little bait around outside. If placed where sparrows congregate, large numbers may be caught, more especially the young birds in May and June, and in frosty weather, and other harmless birds being caught they may be set at liberty unhurt.