“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:
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.
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!
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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.
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.
- Cover any outside vents with an appropriate cover. Many even are designed specifically to keep birds out!
- 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.
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.
- For a more detailed guide about House Sparrow control regarding bluebird boxes, check out this 4 page PDF from the North American Bluebird Society.
Tip #3: Offer Massive Amounts of Cheap Food
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
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.
You could also try an upside-down suet feeder. As the name suggests, birds have to cling and hang upside-down to eat! House Sparrows don’t like to eat this way, but most woodpecker species have no problem.
E. Shelled peanuts 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:
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.
- For more information, Google can help!
Tip #6: TRY to Appreciate House Sparrows
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!