“How do I get rid of all these @$&^*%!  House Sparrows?!”

 

Does this statement sound familiar? If you feed birds, you have probably frustratingly muttered (or screamed!) something like this before. I know I have!

 

House Sparrows can be annoying to have in your backyard for many reasons:

 

  • They are an invasive species. Originally from the Middle East, they are highly adaptable and have inhabited every corner of Planet Earth, usually close to humans.

 

  • There are so many of them, and it’s expensive to feed! Seriously, where do they all come from? It seems out of nowhere a flock of 50 House Sparrows will arrive to eat all of my bird food. They also tend to intimidate or scare away all the birds that I actually want to see.

 

  • They outcompete native birds. Not only are House Sparrows highly adaptable, but they can also be very aggressive. This is especially true for birds that compete for the same cavity nesting spots, such as Eastern Bluebirds. Sadly, it’s not uncommon to find a dead bluebird in a nesting box that was savagely murdered by an angry House Sparrow.

 

Is it possible to get rid of House Sparrows from your yard?

 

Here is the bad news:

 

Probably not.

 

House Sparrows are one of the most successful and widespread species on the planet. It’s a bit unrealistic to think you can stop or get rid of them entirely.

 

But here is the good news:

 

After doing some research and running some experiments, I put together 6 tips that will help control, prevent, and deter House Sparrows from taking over your backyard.

 

“Control” may be the keyword. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the amount of House Sparrows in my backyard, I have implemented some of the below strategies, which has at least helped deter them!

 

For example, here is a LIVE look at my bird feeders. It’s not surprising to see a few House Sparrows, but it’s rare to see my feeding station overrun with them.

*Subscribe to the BWHQ YouTube Channel & Watch Live Cams 24/7* –>  subscribe to live animal and bird cams

 

I have even come to (almost) appreciate House Sparrows. I find it hard to blame them for their massive success as a species since it was us humans who ignorantly released them all over the world.

 

How do you control or stop House Sparrows in your backyard? Please share in the comments below!

 


Related Article: The 6 Best Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeders (Stop Wasting Food!)

Related Article: 7 Effective Ways To Keep Squirrels Off Your Bird Feeders


Tip #1: Kill or Trap Them

 

Since House Sparrow’s are considered a nuisance species, it is legal (in the United States) to humanely kill these birds under federal law.

 

Euthanizing House Sparrows is a favorite technique for bluebird enthusiasts who manage a bluebird trail. I am told that finding a dead bluebird that was killed by a House Sparrow fuels a deep hatred for this invasive species.  House Sparrows can be very aggressive toward bluebirds and commonly kill them while trapped in a nest box.

 

Click Here To View A Few Different Types of Sparrow Traps

 

Personally, I have never tried trapping or killing House Sparrows.  I feel that it only treats the symptom and not the problem. In an urban area, there are so many of them it’s hard to imagine that eliminating a few would help.

 


Tip # 2: Eliminate or Monitor Potential Nesting Sites

 

There is no denying the fact that House Sparrows thrive living near people and benefit from almost everything that humans provide.

 

This includes places for their nests.

 

preventing house sparrows by removing nest locations

 

Luckily, eliminating or monitoring potential sparrow nesting locations can help stop them from raising their young in your backyard.

 

As they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

 

Here are some things you can do:

 

A. If you spot a House Sparrow making a nest, remove it immediately!

 

The hope is that these birds will get frustrated and move on to another location. You may have to remove the nest a few times before they get the hint!

 

  • Some people recommend shaking the eggs once laid. This prevents them from hatching, but the female sparrow won’t know and will continue to sit on the nest instead of trying to lay again.

 

B. House Sparrows prefer to nest in crevices or cavities near people.

 

Observe where they are nesting and install the appropriate netting or deterrent.

 

 

  • Recently, I spotted these spikes on top of the sign at Lowe’s Home Improvement (picture below). Someone caught me staring at them and informed me it’s to keep birds from nesting there. The good news is that you can purchase bird spikes for your home too. They could be deployed on a ledge or area that you just can’t stop House Sparrows from frequenting.

 

how to get rid of house sparrows

 

C. Keep a close eye on bluebird nesting boxes.

 

Unfortunately, House Sparrows are cavity nesters (like bluebirds) and love using these human-made houses to raise their young.

 

  • If you decide to put out bluebird nesting boxes, it’s recommended to install at least two of them about 10 feet apart.  House Sparrows are very territorial. Once they inhabit one box, they typically will prevent other sparrows from using the second box, which leaves it available to other birds.

 

  • Many bluebird experts say you should avoid putting up bluebird boxes in urban areas altogether. They say it’s just inviting House Sparrows to harass, annoy, and potentially kill any bluebirds that use the nesting location.

 

 


Tip #3: Offer Massive Amounts of Cheap Food

 

This is one of my two favorite ways to control House Sparrows, and it runs counter-intuitive to what you might think.

 

One of my main complaints with House Sparrows is that they can overrun a backyard feeding station. Once the massive flocks of local sparrows find your feeders, they collectively eat a lot of your expensive bird food. It was not uncommon for me to refill my big hopper feeder every day or two (and that feeder holds up to 12 pounds of bird seed!).

 

Here is what helped me:

 

Offer massive amounts of cracked corn positioned at least 15 feet away from your other bird feeders.

 

House Sparrows LOVE eating cracked corn. I have found they prefer it over just about any other type of food that I offer.

 

Luckily, cracked corn is one of the cheapest bird foods you can purchase by weight. At my local feed store, I can buy 50-pounds for $12. And you can even order bags on Amazon WITH free shipping to your front door.

 

Next, I fill my large tube feeder from Droll Yankee’s with cheap cracked corn. It holds about 4 lbs of food and features 12 ports and perches. Then I hang this feeder from a tree away from my other feeders that have the more expensive food that I don’t want the House Sparrows to eat.

how to Deter House Sparrows with Cracked Corn

Droll Yankees Large Tube Feeder View $ on Amazon

 

I’m sorry if the above picture is hard to see, but I wanted to show my tube feeder filled with cracked corn placed behind and away from my other feeders. Almost all of the House Sparrows are off to the side filling up on cracked corn, while my other bird feeders are available for other birds to feed and eat.

 

This strategy has worked exceptionally well to deter House Sparrows from eating the black oil sunflower seed in my hopper feeder and other more expensive bird food. Instead of refilling once every two days, it has lowered to about once per week!

 


 Tip #4: The Anti House Sparrow Diet

 

This is one of my two favorite strategies (along with Tip #3)!

 

The general idea is only to offer food that House Sparrows don’t particularly enjoy.

 

This is easier said than done since these invasive and adaptable birds eat almost everything.

 

I have done quite a bit of experimenting in my backyard, trying to find the best mix of seed and feeders that deter and limit the number of House Sparrows.

 

Here are the food and feeder combinations that seem to work best to control House Sparrows.

 

A. Striped Sunflower Seed in my hopper feeder.

 

Striped sunflower seed is larger and has a thicker husk than black oil sunflower seed. Because of the work required to get to the seed, it discriminates against many types of bird, including House Sparrows.

 

It seems like they eat a little bit of the striped sunflower, but they don’t love it! Since I have removed black oil sunflower and replaced with striped sunflower, I have noticed substantially lower amounts of sparrows visiting my feeders. Instead of 50 arriving at once, now it’s only a few at a time.

 

Here are some of the birds you can expect to visit a feeder that features striped sunflower seed: Cardinals, grosbeaks, titmice, nuthatches, jays, and grackles.

 

 B. Nyjer seed in my Droll Yankees Finch Flocker Feeder.

 

First, House Sparrows don’t particularly like nyjer seed, and it’s rare to see them eat it. Second, the Finch Flocker bird feeder is specially made for nyjer seed and goldfinches. It has small holes above each perch for the seed to distribute, and House Sparrows have trouble getting their beak through the hole to eat the nyjer.

 

C. Peanuts (in the shell) and whole corn kernels on my platform feeder.

 

Both of these foods are put out for Blue Jays. House Sparrows can’t eat either because of their size and hard exterior.

 

D. Suet in my suet feeder.

 

House Sparrows enjoy eating suet, and it’s not uncommon to see them clinging to the side to get a bite to eat. But having a suet feeder doesn’t support 50 House Sparrows, and they don’t prefer clinging to the side all day to feed. At the most, I have seen two sparrows eating at once, and most suet cakes last at least a week, so they are not consuming much food at this feeder.

 

E. Shelled peanuts and suet nuggets in my mesh wire feeder.

 

This is a similar situation to my suet feeder. House Sparrows definitely will eat shelled peanuts and suet nuggets, but this feeder makes it difficult to access the food.

 

F. Nectar in my hummingbird feeder (in the summer).

 

House Sparrows shouldn’t bother or try to eat from your nectar feeders.

 

Make sure to avoid these foods:

 

Cracked corn, millet, black oil sunflower seed, sunflower chips/kernels, and bread. House Sparrows can’t resist them!

 

I have heard in the past that House Sparrows don’t like safflower or shelled peanuts very much. This was not the case in my backyard! When either of these foods was accessible, they would gorge themselves with a smile on their face. 🙂 This was especially true if their other favorite foods were unavailable.

 Tip # 5: Hang Monofilament Wire From a Feeder or Baffle

 

I want to disclose I have never tried this strategy, but it has some dedicated followers.

 

There was a study conducted that showed by hanging monofilament wire from a squirrel baffle above your feeders, it helped to deter House Sparrows, but other bird species were not affected.

 

Currently, no companies are manufacturing a product like this, so you would have to make your own. The Magic Halo is what this design is commonly referred too.

 

Here are a few quick tips I was able to dig up:

 

  • Don’t use fishing line as birds can get tangled in them. It was recommended to use weighted hobby wires (not sure what that is!).

 

  • It sounds like this strategy works well at first, but over time House Sparrows overcome their fear and come back to the feeders.

 


 Tip #6: TRY to Appreciate House Sparrows

 

Let’s be honest.

 

If you live in an urban area, it is almost impossible to get rid of House Sparrows completely. They are highly adaptable, efficient reproducers, and eat a wide variety of foods.

 

how to control house sparrows

 

Instead of using your limited energy hating them and getting mad when they visit your feeders, why not accept House Sparrows and learn to appreciate them? If you give them a chance, they can be entertaining and provide a constant supply of birds at your feeders.

 

As long as I am using some of the strategies outlined above and invasive sparrows are not taking over my entire backyard, I am happy!

 

Now I just need to work on accepting my new enemy #1: European Starlings!!

Final Thoughts:

 

Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any way to permanently remove invasive House Sparrow from your backyard. They are too widespread and adaptable to be stopped!

 

But utilizing a mixture of some of the strategies outlined above should help prevent them from completely taking over your backyard.

 

Who knows, maybe one day you will even come to appreciate these controversial birds! 🙂


Before you go, please comment on the following question:

 

How do you prevent, control, stop, or deter House Sparrows in your backyard?

 

What strategies have you implemented? What tips can you provide?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Scott

15 responses to “6 Proven Tips To STOP House Sparrows From Taking Over Your Feeders”

  1. I am new to birding. I have put two types of feeders after much research, only to realize that one of them is now solely dedicated to house sparrows. I didn’t mind their perches whole day long until patio of my apartment started becoming overly messy. I noticed them shoveling a huge amounts of seeds off from the feeder to the ground, and eating a tiny portion from it. Patio started becoming messier each day and feeder started getting empty sooner due to so much wastage. While other visitors like house finches, purple finches, chickadees, American goldfinch and rare visitor cardinals were so much much more sophisticated guests. Since we live in apartments a lot of seed can be seen on the patio of our neighbor as well who is living in the apartment below ours. Embarrassed by it I removed the big feeder today while leaving the other feeder (Nyjer seed feeder) there (after reading your blog that sparrows don’t feed on nyjer seeds, and can’t eat from small holes in the feeder).
    After finishing sunflower seed pack, I am planning to bring striped sunflower seeds. Thanks for the info.
    (P.S. reading “killing bird” in the first line startled me.) Just like house sparrows, we humans have taken the entire planet and already working for our selfish benefits. I think every living being has a right to live until and unless they are not coming to kill you. Even though you couldn’t kill them, someone reading your post may get motivated in other part of the world to kill poor sparrows and throw them in a bin, only because of bird-favoritism.)
    P.P.S. Loved other pointers and will try to implement them. Right now sparrows are eating seeds from the ground which they had thrown off the feeder before! :))

    • Scott says:

      Hey Shesha! Thanks for the feedback and input. I struggle with the House Sparrow debate about whether its OK to kill them. Every action has a consequence, and allowing House Sparrows to stick around means that I am putting native birds at risk of being outcompeted and even killed by the House Sparrows. Conservation has tough decisions that need to be made, it’s hard to know what to do. At this point, I just feed everyone and hope the House Sparrows go eat the cheap cracked corn, haha.

  2. Lucky H. says:

    They are evil ! That’s why

  3. Gardner44 says:

    Your number one tip is to KILL or trap them??? I didn’t even bother reading the rest of your article!! Even though you don’t do it yourself, what an awful thing to recommend!!

    • Scott says:

      Just curious, why don’t you like the idea of trapping them and relocating them to a different location? Also, I can’t bring myself to kill House Sparrows myself and end up feeding them along with the other birds, but I know it helps native bluebirds greatly if House Sparrows are not around. House Sparrows routinely murder bluebirds in the nesting box, so by allowing them to stay, it can be a death sentence for bluebirds. I know it’s a tough issue, and everyone will have different opinions. Thanks for commenting.

  4. DesignDiva says:

    Thank you!! I see almost only these little buggers and use very expensive feed! I can’t believe they can run off the larger birds! I wouldn’t kill but want to deter them because I have cardinals, blue jays and on the very rare occasion I have seen goldfinches. Don’t get me started on squirrels finally deterred them.
    Next I want to figure out how to have other than house sparrows nest in birdhouses. Just bought a gorgeous one with very small holes, maybe I shouldn’t have 🙁

    • Scott says:

      Hey! I actually just wrote an article about birdhouse plans that will be published April 1st. If the entrance hole is smaller than 1-1/2 inches than House Sparrows shouldn’t use the birdhouse. Chickadees and wrens will still be attracted though!

  5. Glenn WALL says:

    I had a problem with sparrows nesting in my eaves. I tried everything,(legal) to no avail.
    Just recently I also had a problem with spiders and silverfish so I put some insect “bombs”,( available from Bunnings) in the roof cavity and to my amazement all the sparrows left. Total cost $18.00 and a crawl around in the roof. Make sure you follow the instructions on the cans to the letter and wear a mask and eye protection.

  6. Norman Patrick Weatherly says:

    I tried feeding the sparrows .177 lead pellets but living in an urban area we need to be super careful of angles of shot, etc. so we don’t get to use that method very often. The halo worked briefly. The biggest problem is the neighbour over our back fence, he puts out a gallon of bird food every day and doesn’t care what kind of birds he attracts. Bottom line? I can’t beat em’! We take long walks in natural areas now to get our wild bird viewing and surrendered the back yard to the sparrows.

  7. Cindy says:

    If sparrows are so territorial of nest sites why do “in group” take over my Martin house? I hate them pushing my Martins out! Also I’ve seen bluebird boxes with clear PVC roofs. Says that makes it to light for sparrows but doesn’t bother bluebirds. Anyone try these with any luck??? Thanks for any input!!

    • Scott says:

      Cindy, I have never tried this before or have any experience. I just know House Sparrows are a frustrating problem and they make it very easy not to like them!

  8. Vern says:

    I am new at your website, thank you so much for it…really enjoy it being a avid birdwatchers…i used to completely tolerate the house sparrows when they showed up at my feeder but those days are gone. A pair of bluebirds had established a nest in my nestbox..my wife and I came back from a cruise and all the nesting material was on the ground and a pair of house sparrows was trashing a nest that a wren had built in it…a sparrow will not pay attention to a nestbox often tilll another bird (bluebird, barn swallow,wren) take over the nest box. Constantly harassing. I have picked up baby birds and put them back in the nestbox after a sparrow has picked them out. I have my nes tbox and feeders close to the house and use Lethal force. I respect other peoples concerns but in my backyard……

  9. Karen Marterstich says:

    Hi, my favorite pass time us bird watching. All of a sudden over the last 3 or 4 years Sparrows have completely taken over. I have about 7 bird feeders with squirrel baffles and the squirrels have their own boxes. I am getting less and less of my favorite birds. I had 6 pairs of
    Cardinals, and all kinds of Nuthatch, Titmouse, finch etc. The Sparrows have chased them all off. I did enjoy them for a while but now i want to eradicate them…..me a bird lover…can’t believe I could say that but I miss my more rare a variety of birds. I will try all your tricks and hope to cut the population down. I’ll bet by now I have 50-80ish. Thanks for the article.

    • Scott says:

      Hey Karen. It’s funny you mention this today. Ever since the weather cooled off here in Ohio the House Sparrows have returned in full force and are gorging themselves on sunflower kernels. I’m not sure I could bring myself to kill them, but I’m starting to understand the people that do go to these extreme measures.

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