About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Getting rid of sparrows

"Everyone come and fight sparrows"
— Propaganda poster showing
children killing sparrows using a sling shot
I was sitting in the yard last night enjoying the day and watching the birds. They were eating at all the feeders but they were also patrolling the yard for bugs. All around the door frames, spiderwebs were being raided for easy meals. Sparrows, and other birds were zeroing in on moths and mosquitoes unlucky enough to wander in our yard. It made for a very pleasant evening.

A lot of birds eat seeds, but switch over to a diet consisting of mostly bugs during the nesting season. In nature there is a balance.

In 1958 Mao Zedong, leader of the Chinese Revolution, declared sparrows an enemy of the state because they ate grains in the field. Farmers were given incentives to kill all they could find. The balance in nature was interrupted.

At the direction of Chairman Mao,
sparrows were killed by the people,
causing a major ecological
imbalance in the environment
People succeeded amazingly well at decimating the Eurasian Tree Sparrows' population. However the next year, Chinese leaders realized that sparrows ate more insects than grains. Without the sparrows to keep the crop-eating insects under control, the population exploded. Locust populations ballooned, swarming the country and exacerbating a famine in which millions of people died of starvation.

The war against the sparrows was terminated in 1959. Scientists autopsied the digestive systems of the sparrows and found that three-quarters of the contents were harmful insects and only one-quarter was grain. This showed that sparrows were basically a beneficial bird.

Source: 
Four Pests Campaign From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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