5 PROVEN Ways to STOP House Sparrows at Your Feeders!
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 them! 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:
I put together 5 tips that will help control House Sparrows.
“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 have 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 released them all over the world.
Tip #1: Eliminate & Monitor 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 one 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 vent covers are even are designed specifically to keep birds out!
- Recently, I spotted these spikes on top of the sign at Lowe’s Home Improvement (picture above), which are installed to keep House Sparrows from nesting on the sign. The good news is that you can purchase bird spikes for your home too. They can be deployed on a ledge or area that you just can’t stop House Sparrows from frequenting.
C. Keep a close eye on nesting boxes.
Unfortunately, House Sparrows are cavity nesters (like bluebirds) and love using these bird houses to raise their young.
- If you decide to put out 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 bird houses in urban areas altogether. They say it’s just inviting House Sparrows to harass, annoy, and potentially kill any bluebirds that use the nesting box. In addition, you are providing a superb nesting location for House Sparrows.
RELATED: 6 Proven Ways to Attract BLUEBIRDS!
- 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 #2: Offer Massive Amounts of Cheap Food!
My biggest complaint with House Sparrows is how they overrun feeding stations. (Press PLAY below)
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 right 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 sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet. Instead of refilling once every two days, it has lowered to about once per week!
Tip #3: Try The Anti-House Sparrow Diet!
The general idea is to offer food that House Sparrows don’t particularly enjoy.
Here are the food and feeder combinations that seem to work best to control House Sparrows.
A. Striped Sunflower Seed.
View Price - Amazon
Striped sunflower seed is larger and has a thicker husk than black-oil sunflower seeds. Because of the work required to get to the seed, it discriminates against many types of birds, including House Sparrows.
It seems like they eat a little bit of the striped sunflower, but they don’t love it! Since I have started using 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 that do eat striped sunflower seed: Cardinals, grosbeaks, titmice, nuthatches, jays, and grackles.
B. Nyjer seed.
First, House Sparrows don’t particularly like nyjer seed, and it’s almost never their first choice among foods. Second, most people put Nyjer seed inside of feeders that ONLY use Nyjer seed. While possible, House Sparrows have a bit of trouble using these types of feeders.
C. Peanuts (in the shell) and whole corn kernels on my platform feeder.
Both of these foods are great for Blue Jays and many other birds. But House Sparrows rarely eat whole corn kernels or peanuts in the shell 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.
Bird’s Choice Upside-Down Suet Feeder View Cost - Amazon
E. 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 cracked corn, millet, and bread.
Tip # 4: Try using “The Magic Halo!”
When you first hear about this strategy, you may think it sounds a bit strange. But let’s be honest, I think we would all take “strange” if it meant keeping House Sparrows away. 🙂
I want to disclose I have never tried the Magic Halo (yet), but I have talked to a few people who SWEAR by the technique.
So it has been shown that hanging monofilament above your feeders helps to deter House Sparrows, but other bird species were not affected. The Magic Halo is what this design is commonly referred to because the object that the wire hangs from is circular and looks like a halo.
If you want to see pictures of what this setup looks like, please check out this website, as it has a nice gallery of pictures. You can also purchase a pre-made Magic Halo.
It’s also possible to make your own Magic Halo. There are some ideas on this page. Once you understand what to do, it looks pretty easy to make a Magic Halo out of a baffle that goes above your feeders.
Tip #5: TRY to Appreciate House Sparrows
Before you go, please comment on the following question:
How do you prevent, control, or deter House Sparrows in your backyard?
Thanks for reading!
I, too, want to get rid of these house sparrows. They have annoyed me to the point of no return, and I want to eliminate them as soon as possible.
So you’re saying if I judiciously poison some cracked corn…
I’m kidding. Thanks for the pointers.
Are house sparrows in south eastern British Columbia, in the Rocky Mountains.?
How can I keep sparrows out of my purple martin houses?
I hear you entirely. I was sitting on my porch one day watching birds when the very first oriole I had ever seen in my yard appeared… and then one of the little demons swooped in, started attacking him, and knocked him down several feet to his demise. House sparrows suck, and I say this out of the love I have for our native bird species.
I remember growing up with a vintage cookbook from my checkers of aki and grandmother and it contained recipes for sparrow and Starling as well as pigeon. There are still recipes to be found and if you’re going to trap and kill it’s good to honor the life you take by eating it or giving it to another animal who will. I will probably have to resort to trapping since my neighbor will not stop over feeling in the world call birds with 13 feeders in the yard ,plus food on the ground for squirrels and chipmunks! The bird dropping Savon are nuisance enough to turn me against birds and bird feeders in general but we never had the problem before the excessive amount of feeders.
And we live in what could be called a mobile home community not a derelict trailer park although it is a very rural area.
I cannot tolerate the excessive noise of the male sparrows which are distracting , even inside my home with the windows shut. It would be different if they said something beside cheap cheap cheap cheap for hours at a time.
They are feathered harassment and very stubborn about returning to my deck and garden , even after numerous times of being squirted with the hose , and hanging out things like reflective wind chimes… and there is no shortage of free roaming cats.
Eating them is at least a respectful kind of final solution.
Austin, Philosophically, I don’t like the concept of Natural Selection, perhaps because my birth caused a physical disability I’ve had to live with the physical challenges it brings since I was beat up as a 9 year old girl. I went on to earn a PhD and taught university level Mathematics all my life. I finally have a home of my own, and, with squirrels as my first predator, laid out much money on a squirrel resistant feeder that actually works, keeping away the squirrels. A year later, I have nothing but, nothing but these House Sparrows! As I’ve read about them before this post, doves and cardinals seem to be able to hold up to them! So I get a few prettier ones. A few. All blue jays even are gone. I will be trying some of the above suggestions. As a university professor, I have taught some of Darwin’s writings on natural selection an survival of the fittest. My doctoral specialty was Victorian literature (British) so I have had many chances, both in my doc work, teaching (I’ve always prefaced teaching Darwin selections to my students, based on his religious controversy) …. I personally feel, no, know I’ve experienced survival of the fittest, being among the physically unfit since I was a 9 year old girl wearing 10 lb leg braces, and being beat up for it! Yes, I’m trying to see some, and I really mean some of the loveliness of the house sparrows , pretty much monopolizing my hard worked for property (it’s a pretty big accomplishment for a single, physically disabled woman to own her own house.. well, working on paying the mortgage to own it!!!). I’m not in an urban area; I’m in a very quiet, rural neighborhood , with a Norman Rockwell looking tree lined street. I will be trying some of the suggestions above to try to limit my over abundance of them….no, I’d call, it more their over taking my previous pretty, colorful birds… ,a total monopoly of prettier , gentler birds these aggressive house sparrows have brought. I can appreciate them, and now must, as they are 99% now the only , only birds I get to watch! I would not call them “kind” birds. True, they do not shy away from people the way other birds do; I would call them , to me, more accurately, fearless birds; I read another piece on House Sparrows, which said when they were first introduced to the US many ended up in the middle of New York City, and for specific reasons the article did not mention…. they became aggressive. I gathered the city, as implied above… makes them aggressive in nature, to survive. Then they get into more rural areas . I spend a lot of money on high grade bird food…. Used to have a plethora of beautiful birds like blue jays, blue birds, and red crested woodpecker or 2…possibly more.., I’m not physically able any more to tramp around even the back oh my half acre property, looking… so I might have the red crested ones and even other woodpeckers, though I haven’t heard any pecking on my back of the yard pine trees. People go into bird watching for many reasons; I’m trying hard, very hard, not to become home bound. But I’m much more physically limited than I was ever a year ago, so enjoying my back and front yard birds is all I have ; I live now in (to me) very cold Pennsylvania, so late Spring, all Summer is heaven to me, as far as enjoying the outdoors , with crape myrtles coming up, butterfly bushes, azaleas, clematis, my potted plants, and the birds! I’d break my neck or leg at this point if I tried to get around , alone, to seek out birds , off or right on my property… I truly wish I could, but I can’t, so I must have a stiff upper lip, and try to enjoy these plain, brown and white, aggressive House Sparrows. :(. Bummer. I’m not saying they are a bad bird, whatever ‘bad’ means, but they are aggressive and nasty (I’ve seen them peck at my cardinals, who, in fear, hop off my feeder to my grass, and at least stay there a bit. They are also plain/ neutral in color, and it would be sooo nice just to see say something orioles, blue jays, blue jays… even more red breasted robins, which are staying away. It effects finances, too; I spent $ on suet…a friend had given me a decorative suet feeder as a gift last year, so I bought some more suet and on the second day, 2-3 house sparrows have gobbled it all up! From a quick view of comments above, I see that people have seen House Sparrows killing other birds! Yes, I will do what I can to limit them or get rid of them! I am saying this, respectful of your comment about you enjoying them. What I take issue with, again respectfully, is the natural selection you speak of.
Thank you for finding a kind way to help deter sparrows from taking over the other nests.
That’s terrible. Live & let live. Birds of prey do a number on them by me, in NNJ.
AMEN! I DESPISE THE HEATHEN SPARROWS!
Hello Mary, you have to do the starlings the same way trap and kill….
Hello carol, I’m about at that point myself but something happened today that changed my mind a male sparrow was killing a new male bluebird in the bluebird nesting box I tried to save it but when I opened the box it kind of flew out it was injured but couldn’t catch it and a cat got it and that was it and after that the sparrow came back several times to finish the job but couldn’t find the bluebird now that really made me mad. I have a long story about my birding journey but to long to type it all but
To make a long story short. That changed my mind quickly about trapping and killing. I have tried everything else and there was no reason for the house sparrow to kill it there are plenty of other places for it to build its nest. Like you the other alternative is to take everything down and be done but nope I have spent 20 years trying to get bluebirds and tree swallows in my yard and I’m going to do everything I can to hopefully keep them coming back. I’m not giving up yet. House sparrows are mean and they suck!!!!
Yes. that’s the only thing that works. trap and kill. we eliminated 100 last year/ Just have to be vigilant that the good birds don’t get in the trap/ Now if only I can find a way to get rid of the starlings. Ugh
My best way to deter house sparrows is to feed them separately on a separate feeding station. I give them cheap food. I also provide extra birdhouses for them. I caught a house sparrow with a live trap and measured it before letting it go. I made birdhouses that had the perfect entrance diameter. Bluebird holes are slightly larger, by around 1/4 an inch. But, when I cut the house sparrow holes perfect, the house sparrows left the cavities I carved for the bluebirds. I carve cavities for woodpeckers and bluebirds directly into the trees, and the bluebirds and they prefer these cavities to manmade houses because they have a more natural look and feeling. However, since house sparrows prefer man-developed areas, they prefer manmade houses. I first got the feeding idea from you, then thought about the nest problem. Removing nests is cruel, so I tried to lure them to birdhouses made especially for them, then make cavities for the other birds. Thanks for the idea!
Do you know how big of a hole in the chicken wire he uses? If there’s a size that gold finches can go through, but not sparrows?
Wow. Very sensitive…smh
Tip #1, 3, and 5 are so cruel and so wrong! Don’t do those tips! Tip #2 and 6 work best for me. I also use Tip #6 for European Starlings. I offer massive amounts of cheap food for house sparrows on a big feeder that hangs on a delicate balance. When a big bird lands on the feeder, the feeder falls out of balance so that the big bird gets scared and goes to another feeder. That way, the other birds I’m trying to attract don’t try to steal the sparrows’ food so that the sparrows won’t try to steal the other birds’ food.
I recently had an bird invasion in my yard and at my feeders with a bird like you described. The dark on top with the white belly, were dark eyed juncos according to my identification. Try looking that up & see if it’s that bird. Mine only invaded for about a week and they left.
When my neighbors decided to “feed the birds” last year, they put out trash feed by our fence and the sparrows moved in. They killed my first nesting bluebird and destroyed her eggs and I had to evict them several times after before I finally had two successful bluebird families last summer. The sparrows also hung around my feeders though I never supplied anything they liked. I bought a trap but couldn’t bare to use it so after 11 years of having bluebird boxes and assorted birdfeeders, I took everything down. I’ll keep up my two birdbaths but I’m not spending another year dealing with sparrows. Gave my boxes and feeders away, too. I will truly miss my birds but I’m done.
The cardinal mafia in my yard has seemed to do a very good job of keeping house sparrows out of my yard entirely. They tend not to even come around, although I do hear them in the forsythia bushes on my walks just a couple blocks away from my house.
Hi I am fairly new to bird watching/feeding here in northern Indiana. Started out with just hummingbirds and slowly have added more bird feeders. The first summer was good when I added a feeder for Orioles until house finches kind of took over. This spring and summer I added more feeders for other small birds. It went pretty good, even with the finches and yellow jackets taking over the oriole feeder, so no orioles into the later summer. But, I had cute little chickadees, titmouses, nuthatches, woodpeckers and then late summer I finally had goldfinches and a few others for a brief time. Now I am having an issue with a small flock of other birds, not sure what they are. Have read much of your emails about the problem starlings and sparrows but these birds don’t look like the pictures I’ve seen. They are medium size, dark gray to black with a white underside/belly. What I have figured out is that they would somehow get on my tube feeders and dump most of the seed on the ground. I was filling up the two tube feeders twice a week instead of two or three times a month. After I read your article I stopped filling one of the feeders with the more expensive feed. I also read an article that suggested getting a caged feeder or putting a “cage” around it that would allow the chickadees, nuthatches, etc.. to get to the feed but not larger birds(they used bluejays and starlings as an example). So I got a caged feeder at my local hardware store. That feeder hasn’t gone down in days like before. I did leave my other tube feeder out with the cheaper feed in it and that one got emptied in just two days with the seed all over my deck and ground. What I am wondering is am I dealing with sparrows or what kind of bird and what can I do to stop them from hanging around? This is the first winter I have had tube/seed feeders and am going to try to feed through the winter if I can. Thanks
we have accepted house sparrows. Cracked corn and black oil sunflower seed for all birds. This is much more satisfying. I may never be able to accept starlings or grackles.
Would you mind telling us exactly which trap you have used for 30 years, so successfully? It would seem to be worth any price!
Thank you. Eleanore
HOUSE SPARROWS PROBLEMS: To prevent and limit house sparrows from taking over and stealing nest boxes (especially for tree swallows – or perhaps bluebirds) and kill your swallows or bluebirds on their nest boxes, there is a company in Québec, Canada that offers a device called a ‘pendulum’, which is based on weight and only permits the swallow to get in (perhaps the bluebird too), the house sparrow being heavier, is ejected underneath as the pendulum swings. Here is the website: http://www.hironbec.com/hironbecE.html
Well when I wake up to the sound of my son crying because he can’t sleep because the sparrows are yacking from 4:30 am onwards, I care more about him and his sleep deprivation than I do the sparrows. We live in an apartment with single pane windows. The other birds live in harmony but we can see how Sparrows intimidate other birds and they simply will not shut up.
Use Safflower or Black sunflower.
What type of bird food do you recommend?
They certainly are evil creatures. I’ve been tortured by them for about 5 years now. From as early as 3AM and sometimes right through until 10PM all I can hear is UGH UGH UGH UGH REEE REEE REEE REEE at roughly the same volume as a car alarm. They destroy our homes and upset and even kill other native species.
Block up all holes in your roof, under the eves and anywhere else they could possibly nest in September. Ask your neighbours if they can do the same, and offer to do it yourself if they don’t.
Theses damn things need to stop it and shut up!
God bless you for this information!
Yes! I agree! I am a volunteer gardener and birder for a senior independent smal apartment complex. In 5 yrs. I cleaned up the bird feeding. I made a sanctuary and managed to bring only native birds to the feeders. A new management company decided to say in the house rules “a resident can hang a feeder and use any feed labeled bird seed! This caused cheap feed and flicks if English sparrows and cowbirds! We are petitioning management for stricter rules and to stop the feeding of this terrible food! We have English sparrows pooping on our patio furniture like nothing before! A complete MESs
Hopefully one of your neighbors is trapping them. They are enemy number one to Bluebirds and Bluebirds are native. House sparrows are not. I for one don’t miss the chattering in my yard as I now hear the native birds singing which is much more enjoyable to listen to.
I also love all birds. I have a evergreen tree in my front yard and the sparrow’s nest and live in there all year around. After approximately five or more years they have disappeared. I miss their chattering together or at each other and don’t know why they are gone. They come to the back yard but none in the front. Nothing different and I do have a resident grass snake but it’s small and been here for a couple years
Do u have any idea why they would all leave? Thanks
How about this for a problem. One sparrow is relentlessly attacking 3 windows and my back deck slider. All day long!!! Smashing himself against my window and waking the whole house at 4:45 AM. For weeks now. I don’t have bird feeders. And of course pooping all over my deck and furniture. Never happened here in 15 years until the house sparrow decided this is HIS territory. I understand he sees a rival. I don’t care. I’m probably getting a trap house. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thank you.
Actually, YOU CAN ELIMINATE HOUSE SPARROWS!
But you have to be diligent and ruthless.
You MUST trap them and eliminate them.
Nothing else works. After 30+ years of trapping and eliminating them, I am convinced this is the only way. After finding dead bluebird and tree swallows in our best boxes, we have no sympathy for house sparrows. None!
After you catch them you MUST eliminate them!
Check the web for ways to dispatch them.
We have used the same trap for over 30 years which can be purchased from the Purple Martin or Bluebird websites.
It works great and we have caught up to 8 sparrows a day.
After a couple weeks the sparrows are gone-all of them, and our bluebirds, chicadees, swallows etc. can breathe a sigh of relief.
We do this every year in the spring.
Also, I do NOT recommend cleaning out and removing a sparrow nest. If you do that and also have other native birds nesting nearby, the sparrows may try to switch houses! BAD NEWS!
Let them nest till you catch them, but don’t let the babies fledge.
We live in upstate NY, and our area is definitely a house sparrow free zone.
Good luck and I hope you catch and eliminate every single one of those doggone sparrows
Three days of sparrow hell in San Clemente, CA. Tuesday afternoon a sparrow came into the living room. There was another, just outside. The inside sparrow got out after about 45 minutes, flew away. The other sparrow, the one going crazy outside, didn’t see the other bird leave. He – I’m assuming its a ‘he’ as if a girl, would have returned to the nest. For three days, he has been impaling himself against the window. How do I get rid of him? I’ve tried talking ” your wife has left with another bird . . . ” but that hasn’t worked. Help!
Very well said. I am doing my best to put nature back into balance in my neighborhood at the least.
I have tried several non lethal methods to help my Bluebirds to be successful but those all failed. Last fall I purchased a funnel trap for sparrows and was able to eliminate a few before the snow put a stop to my efforts. This spring I began again and eliminated 15 sparrows before the remainder of the population became educated and figured out to avoid the trap. My pair of Bluebirds tried to claim one of my 2 houses only to have a sparrow drive them out. They then tried to nest in the second box only to have the same thing happen. As mentioned in one of my earlier posts I purchased a Van Ert box trap and have eliminated the problem male (educated) sparrow. Seems he couldn’t adapt to the new treat to his life. I am in the process of construction on an elevator trap to continue to eliminate sparrows as they can’t escape from that type of trap and thus become educated.
I don’t currently have any Bluebirds nesting on my property but I am hopeful that they will make an attempt later this summer with their second brood and my helpful elimination of as many sparrows as possible.
Austin this article is referring to the Passer Domesticus more commonly known as the English House sparrow, which isn’t even a sparrow at all. This is important as your previous statements are misleading and contain false information.
Lets start with the easy false statements. NO, many states did not make it illegal to shoot English house sparrows. English house sparrows are an invasive species which are not protected under the Migratory Bird Act of 1918, and the migratory birds convention act of 1994 in Canada, which protects all native song birds, Raptors, and non-game species. It is illegal to shoot blackbirds and bluebirds due to the MBTA but not the English House sparrow. This bird is an invasive species throughout North America and has zero protections.
As far as having a low population, this is false as well. Since being introduced into the USA back in 1851, the English house sparrow has become one of the most populous birds in the US and Canada with an estimated population of over 80 MILLION birds. Yes it is true that the population has been in slow decline over the last couple decades, but one must also take into account the shrinking of all bird species that has been happening in the later half of 1900’s and the first part of 2000’s due to a myriad of circumstances with habitat loss being a major concern.
Now we will get into the more ambiguous claims. You say they “do not kill, but will chase”. this is false. I ask you to look up what it means for a species to usurp a nest. They don’t show up and knock on the door asking the previous species to pack their bags and move, they actually will enter the nest, attack whatever adult bird may be in the nest, usually killing it, and then proceed to either build a nest on top of the existing nest of young or eggs, or they will throw the eggs, and whatever young there may be out of the box and onto the ground, effectively killing them. No, this is not done in self defense.
several times you have used “Natural Selection” in your arguments. I would encourage you to study more of what Natural selection is, and how it does not pertain to the situation of English House sparrows, European Starlings, or Eurasian Collard doves invasion into North America. There is no reason for me to define that here, as you can easily look it up on your own time.
Why is this a big deal? well the 85 or so cavity nesting species we have in North America, due to Natural Selection, have adapted over the past thousands and millions of years to the predators, and competitors of North America. through Natural selection these Birds have adapted to all the different ecological systems of North America and how to deal with them. Humans have come in and changed the rules if you will. We have brought other species to North America that through Natural Selection evolved in what is their native habitats in which they are a functioning member and numbers are held in check by other predatory species they evolved with. Look at the pattern here. Species evolve in a habitat, with other species, some predator, and some prey. You will notice these ecosystems are balanced. Predators keep the prey populations in check, which in turn help keep the predator populations in check. This is not what we are dealing with in North America. we are dealing with an ecosystem that has been thrown off balance by the introduction of a species which did not evolve, or was not Naturally Selected to be a part of it. Remember as species are naturally selected in an ecosystem there are adaptations made throughout the ecosystem to create balance. without balance the ecosystem will break down and not be successful. Too many of one species can deplete food from others, reduce breeding/nesting habitat, etc. Nothing with the House sparrows introduction was natural, and native species are not equipped to deal with this or other invaders that humans have introduced to North America.
You also have to look at the problem in its bigger picture as well. 85 or so cavity nesters are native to North America. Now we have a non-native species introduced which is more aggressive than most native species so it out competes them for food, and lodging. English house sparrows do not migrate, which means they will take the best and most successful nesting spots before the native birds return. What’s the big deal you say, there are other places to nest. well then we need to consider the European starling and the Eurasian collard dove. Both cavity nesters, more aggressive, and also early nesters. It is also important to point out that these three invasive species also will have multiple clutches each year. As these species continue to use up the most successful nest sites our native population continue to get pushed out to less successful nest sites, or out of habitats entirely. This is another form of habitat loss that is facing our native populations, and also another form of habitat loss we can try to mitigate through responsible stewardship.
we should be doing whatever we can to try to mitigate the damage to our native species due to the influx of these non native species. Our native species deserve our best efforts helping them compete with non natives, and this refers to all invasive species, not just birds. House cats, which are not native are taking a tremendous toll on our native wildlife, Birds and small mammals both. Non native Norway rats are out competing many of our native rat species for food and habitat. the list goes on and on. Nothing about invasive species taking over is “Natural Selection”.
You obviously have some passion, and you seem to have a caring for wildlife. I would just like to encourage you to find out more of the destruction of our native fauna due to invasive species and why it is so important to try to aid in the fight against them.
They change back to yellow here in the spring.
I appreciate your comments – but I have a friend who saw sparrows in the bluebird house and they killed the eggs. I have lots of sparrows and have not seen anything like this – the yellow finches eat from a feeder that sparrows will not go to. We live in a subdivision so we do not get many different birds. Last year we had the oriole, the house sparrows love that jelly. I never knew that house sparrows could be so mean.
After hours of researching how to keep sparrows away from our feeders, we finally found a resolution! The idea came from a university who came up with the idea. We then found the website below and a place selling it for approximately $40.
Prior to investing in the Halo, I tried this:
Split 2 wooden paint stir sticks lengthwise with utility knife
Duct taped them in an X shape under the canopy of the birdfeeder
Tied 5’ of fishing wire on all 4 ends
After we installed we watched sparrows for 4 days trying to come in for the landing but they’d do a fast 180. No more sparrows, doves, or flickers!
The look isn’t great but now that we know it works we’ll either be gluing the sticks in place under the canopy; or a small single tomato tower ring or something like an embroidery hoop and place it above the canopy for less of a homemade look.
Unfortunately the skylight hasn’t worked for me. I have ordered a Van Ert nestbox trap to evict the offender for good.
I did put up a second nestbox on the other side of my property and had bluebirds nesting in it the next day. Hopefully they will succeed in tearing a successful clutch this year.
I have personally witnessed this for myself, I had an established nest in a bluebird box and sparrows killed all of the chicks.
I believe you are wrong that they don’t kill because I actually witnessed them pulling newly hatched bluebirds from the nest and throwing them to the ground! I returned them to the nest only to witness them going in and getting them again and throwing them to the ground.
This really worked for me. The article that I read was about a man who had a job maintaining almost a mile of bluebird boxes along a country road. He stated that after he put the skylights in many of the boxes along the road that the sparrows left. He stated that he still had more boxes to change. I was wondering if the smell of fresh cut plexiglass caused them to leave or is it the skylight? Anyway, let me know if it worked for you.
European sparrows are not native to the United States. So you are wrong about natural selection. The native birds that they kill did not evolve to protect themselves from these rats with wings. So technically it is murder.
Duane I may have to try the skylight option. I had 2 bluebird nest full of nestlings killed by sparrows last year. I have also found a female bluebird dead near the birdhouse this spring. Last fall I purchased a sparrow trap and was able to kill a few sparrows before a skunk decided that the birdseed I was using for bait made for a nice nightly meal. I had to abandon my efforts to remove the food source and the skunk. I have now put the trap out again this spring and have been able to kill more sparrows. I am hoping to lower the population enough that I get a return nesting of bluebirds this year and hopefully the babies can actually grow to adulthood. I also know that I am not going to make a difference in the state, national or world population of these pest but I will at least lower it in my area. I know that some may be opposed to me killing the sparrows but I looked up legality in my state, Ohio, and it specifically states that it is legal to kill European Sparrows as well as destroy their nest and eggs.
I have only been feeding a mix of safflower and black oil sunflower seed this winter which the sparrows seem to avoid for the most part. I was hoping that would be enough but I still had a male claim possession of my bluebird house this spring in spite of not being attracted to my feeders.
I have 2 bird boxes and I was over run with sparrows. Bluebirds wanted to use the boxes but were prevented by the sparrows. I read where you cut a 2 or 2 1/2 inch hole in the roof and then put plexiglass over the complete roof. This leaves light into the box. I did not think this would stop the sparrows from controlling the boxes, but it did the same day. I watched and the sparrows looked in the boxes and they all left the area the same day.
I read where the sparrows like a dark box but bluebirds don’t mind a light box. And I did not need to kill the sparrows. Late in the summer, I saw 2 bluebirds checking the boxes, so I will see this summer if the bluebirds come back and nest in the boxes.. But I don’t have sparrows anymore.
Yes!! Thank you!
Its simple. Don’t get rid of them. Let them go and if you want to step in and you are kind to them they can be easily “tamed”. I slept with one outside before lol. People just need to learn to appreciate them and it might help if you divide your food into separate feeders.
What’s your problem? There shouldn’t be a problem if its a sparrow or a dove that got tangled. It should be the same deal. House sparrows are harmless and sometimes have to kill other birds to survive. If you don’t understand natural selection and struggle to survive then you shouldn’t act above nature and if you harm them you are actually killing for sport. People just can’t appreciate them, they are kind birds and if you would be kind too, you will be able to hold one. once I was literally laying with one in my backyard and it didn’t care. You can call me a liar but I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
Thank you Patricia. Someone who actually understands nature, cruelty, and natural selection.
I just made 2 paragraphs explaining this but it didn’t save so here you go:
Sparrows do not kill but will chase, but only go that far when they feel territorial.
Bluebirds are actually often mean, so they would be the one.
They are not pests. They don’t damage anything but crops if they are hungry, which can be solved by certain smells you can place.
Shaking the eggs to literally cause an abortion is cruel because they can feel that pain. They are as alive as an adult in an egg, such as the fast that a mother hen can communicate with a chick who is still inside the egg.
Many states made shooting sparrows illegal, along with blackbirds and bluebirds. Sparrows have an especially low population and are close to being endangered, mostly because of the expanding cities.
Thank you for reading. I’m no expert, but I did go over this the best I really could.
The one truth to your statement was, “you’re no expert”. Close to being endangered? Do some homework.
Scott, your comparison is correct. I have been trying to get rid of house sparrows for about 20 years now! All I’d simply like to do is go out to my deck and sit under the retractable awning without having to remove an awful mess before doing so. I have tried literally everything except attempting to kill these feisty little nuisances. I finally secured bird mesh to the awning with clothespins, rendering the awning unusable. I do not have a bird feeder- I can only imagine how much worse it could be then!
Thank you Scott, I found your article interesting and hopefully helpful. I live in Broken Hill, Australia, a semi desert location. House sparrows are an invasive species here and also kill off our native birds. We have so many sparrows at our house 40 – 80, that I rarely see any native birds. The sparrows are after our chook food. We have 5 bantams that free range around our back yard. When I feed them I literally have to stand next to them while they eat, otherwise the sparrows fly in, and over power them. We lock our bantams up at night with food but the sparrows are efficient at getting in and stealing it.
You are perfectly correct Scott.
I like all birds, and we enjoy watching them. I feel sorry for them all when temperatures drop right down like they have here in Saskatchewan this winter. But of course I would like to see more of a verity of birds visit my yard and feed. So I will try the cracked corn tip. I have 3 spots in my yard I have feeders set out. So I will fill my one feeder with cracked corn, this way the sparrows will enjoy being feed and stay more in that location which will free up my other two spots for other birds where I have my black oil sunflower seeds and suet set out. Thank you again
Took the advice of a separate feeder/inexpensive food for the house sparrows. This worked out well! I’ve saved so much money by not going through sunflower & nyjer seeds so quickly. Thank you!
I agree! Killing any birds is not a solution.The moment you decide that you are going to put food out to support birds in urban areas, you can’t be that selective. My advise is to vary what you feed so it’s always a little surprise and a little help. The idea of wanting to feed some birds over others does not mix. In my yard, there is enough for all the creatures, even the squirrels.I live in Canada, and I have chickadees, nuthatches, finches, sparrows, a pair of Northern Flickers, magpies which people consider a pest here and tree squirrels, also considered pests although they are non stop work on reforestation. All of them are sharing the food I put out. All of them being at home here in the winter. I have never seen them attack each other or kill each other. They are not stressed but happy and feed side by side. I think, animals pick up on their environment. If they are nonstop being harassed and their nesting destroyed and surrounded by aggression, no wonder they become stressed and kill other birds. Let’s create spaces for all birds. It is us who took their habitat away in the first place. So instead of a swimming pool, try planting trees and shrubs that yield natural bird food and create a natural habitat in your back yards. Let’s give back to nature what we took from her, and the birds will find balance again too.
Scott, I was so pleased to discover your article and easily applied tips to control the House Sparrows, or “warring birds”, as we call them. I will immediately try the cracked corn supply as a start. Thank you SO much!!!
I have halos on all but one of my feeders and it deterred them for a while, but now they are back in full force. I have golden safflower seed, which they will eat if there are too many occupying the cracked corn feeder. My neighbor planted a bunch of arbor vitae years ago and they will hide in there during the day; they may even have nests in there, but I find it next to impossible to find any. I like your 12 perch feeder idea, but how about squirrels? Do you have squirrels chewing at the feeder to get the seed? I would like to know if that has been a problem.
I’ve only had a bird feeder up for a couple of months. The sparrows discovered it almost immediately. There would be 4 feeding on the platform constantly, and a bunch on the ground cleaning up the spillage from their messy eating. They would empty the feeder in under a week. I then discovered the Magic Halo idea. I drilled holes in the edge of the feeder roof, all the way around, and then mounted tool hooks, like you would find mounted on a pegboard over a workbench. From these hooks, I hung lines weighted with nuts and washers. The lines are about 3” apart, and there are 12 in total. I wish that I could post a picture.
The sparrows DID NOT like this at all. They still visit the feeder, and some have figured out how to hop from a branch to the feeder between the weighted lines, but they can no longer fly up and land on the platform. They see the lines and shy away. I now go a month between filling the feeder.
Other than the sparrows, my feeder has attracted a pair of chickadees who seem to have no problem navigating the lines. The other day, I spotted a family of common redpolls, but they weren’t actually on the feeder. They might not like the lines either. I’m hoping that more species show up as the winter weather approaches and other food sources dry up.
I have always — since childhood — appreciated all birds, especially the colorful ones and those who sing, but sparrows have long been one of my favorites. Other favorites are mourning doves, Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, Woodpeckers (I have 3 types at my feeders: Red-headed, Red-breasted and Downey.) And, of course, exquisite Hummingbirds! They come to my feeders, too.
while you may be right as you live in an area where you have the privileges of viewing several other small an colourful , beautiful birds , I come from Mumbai, a densely populated part of india where house sparrows and other coloured birds are literally extinct.
extinct may be an exaggerated a word, but endangered is possibly the appropriate term. house sparrows would often crash into our windows and enter our homes often while growing up injured and sometimes dead.
this is because murderous crows are tremendously rampant in densely population human dwellings. they move around in packs like dogs and kill house sparrows in unprecedented and sometimes sadistically driven numbers.
i may never be able to understand the pleasure of watchin these blue or other coloured birds, which literally have no chance of surviving in cities like mumbai. i havent seen them growing up and their survival in harsh conditions of mumbai where crows have unhealthily strong numbers, is next to near impossible
i personally think countries which see so many house sparrows should cherish them. im not sure what makes you think house sparrows are spread across the world successfully. they havent been for atleast 3 decades. in recent years, there has been a slight resurgence an the covid lockdown helped.
i live in the uk since 12 years now , and there are more house sparrows here, although not several. during the lockdown i noticed a sudden rsurgence of them chirping around my home every morning. while there are not the same number of crows in the uk the way they would annihilate the senses of humans in mumbai, i know they impact the bird ecosystem drastically.
you wont see eagles and hawks eating sparrows just for the sake of it. for them preying on their catch is about a proper meal. for crows,they can move around like a pack of wild dogs but have cat like sadistic pleasure in killing sparrows and other birds.
what i can promise you is this – ” if you hate house sparrows and think of killing and culling them you are fortunate to see them around in the numbers you do. if the day comes you see 50 crows on a minimum all around your building and housing societies, remember one thing, the sparrows will dissappear for sure, but the first set that will vanish will be the birds of colour. all the blue birds, red birds . all the other chirping birds wll vanish well before house sparrows. ”
i personally feel certain parts of the world are now more conducive to sparrows and hopefully you do build in some empathy for sparrows.
I tried creating a halo using hanger wire and long zip ties that hung below the halo. Sparrows hated it, and the finches have come back to feed!
Sounds like this may work great.
Why don’t you do a little research regarding this first before writing? How bout you Watch some YouTube videos showing House Sparrows killing Bluebirds and babies and eggs and taking over and pushing out all your songbirds perhaps you’ll understand how we feel.
If you love birds so much you feed them why and how could you kill them? I get they annoy some people and can be aggressive and drive off other birds – birds you prefer to see and hurt other birds – but guys, this is nature and not up to you to decide who lives or dies. feed birds – don’t feed birds – find clever ways to encourage the birds you do want to see but don’t kill them – they have lives and a right to live just like the birds you want to see. Suggest all those who can’t find a good way to get the birds they want just stop feeding birds and watch videos and stop being cruel. Even if you think sparrows are cruel, that is nature and as a human you should realise it and live and let live. Don’t call yourself an animal/bird lover if you are killing them. Look back in history, there have been a lot of people who thought it was their right to kill those who it did not suit to be on the planet. Did not work out so well for them and with this pandemic we should realise it is time to end the cruelty and stay in your own lane. #BeKind
Patricia, thanks for the comment. The reason I’m not a fan of House Sparrows is they are invasive to North America and outcompete our native birds. The question of whether to feed and support House Sparrows is a conservation issue. Conservationists have to make tough calls all the time by deciding that some animals have to be removed to allow species that are threatened to live. Personally, I’m glad that is not my decision because as I said in my post, I don’t personally kill House Sparrows. Think of it this way, if two wolves escaped from a Chinese zoo, and 10 years later they had lived secretly in the mountains and had reproduced to become a pack, but then got a taste for Panda, and started killing all the remaining pandas. What would you do? Would you let the wolves continue to eat the Pandas? Or remove them? To me, it’s an easy choice to preserve biodiversity, you need to get rid of the wolves! That doesn’t mean you don’t love nature and animals. Also, trying to compare eliminating House Sparrows to the problems that are going on in America is not fair nor relevant.
After reading about the “Magic Halo” some years ago, and in a rage over all the House Sparrows at my feeders, I made my own. On one feeder, I used a metal wreath armature from which I hung 6 lengths of 22-gauge wire with fishing weights at the ends. Over the suet feeder, I hung a plastic dome in which I drilled four holes to attach the hanging wires. Since hanging them, I have never seen a House Sparrow on my feeders. I did see some try to approach, hover uncertainly nearby, and give up. I was delighted. The wires have been up for… wow, I don’t even know. 6 years? I do have to occasionally find/replace weights that get knocked off, or wires that break. No other bird seems to care about the wires, although I will admit sadly that a dove once got tangled in them. They are clumsy fliers and I guess this is why. But over the course of 6 years, that’s the only issue, and the feeders have been gloriously House Sparrow free! They are relegated to picking up what falls from the ground below. I only wish they works on the starlings too… Anyway, I just wanted to give a report on my experience with this!
I live on a farm and have found that if I go out at night with the bb gun and a light, that you can find them perching in the buildings and eliminate quite a few. Works great, feeds the cats and keeps machinery clean.
You could appreciate so many other fantastic creatures of God’s creation if these weren’t around. They kill our native birds and an invasive species. I lived in the country with over 50 different types of birds, beautiful color and a SYMPHONY of bird song all living together peacefully! After moving to a places that has been corrupted by these murderous little $&@%# I hear nothing but the constant loud demanding chirps of them and the spawn! And the ONE brave chickadee I had, has been viciously chased off by these messy pigs! This is why there are soooo few other species in urban areas. They are OVERRUN by house sparrows. So you can think of them as God’s creature. But they are a species that I would to see culled! And I am a nature lover of all kinds! So that’s saying a lot!!! They do absolutely nothing good for the environment and are a nuisance to humans and where they build their homes which can cause fires, poisoning chemicals from their droppings, etc. And their numbers just keep growing with multiple broods each year!! Which is not a good thing! So yes it might seem mean but I would rather listen to that symphony than only have murderous demanding, chirpy poop machines. They have grown far too many!! I will stop them any chance I get.
HELP! My home is being attacked by Sparrows. I have an in ground pool which they are pooping in and around constantly. I can not keep up with the cleaning as there must over 200-300 poops a day!! I keep my vacuum in the pool running because they will continue to poop in it while I am cleaning it! No I don’t have any bird feeders but understand my neighbors do but they think its a joke and will not stop feeding them. Will these little bastards go away after their babies are born? I hung pinwheels around the pool, put pool floats in the water, tried a fake owl but nothing! Any suggestions would be Greatly Appreciated..
Years ago went to Burger King and below drive up window was a sparrow… fast approaching the size of a softball… little beak sticking out one side, scruffy tail feathers the other, supported on a couple of claws whose legs were pushed up into its body. It tried to fly but didn’t budge. Couldn’t even waddle… it just tipped over and rolled.
I think u are mean they are here change the food and move the feeders and change them they are gods birds 2this is cruel .
Hey Scott. Just felt I needed to reply to your suggestions. Was looking up sites on how to stop sparrows from nesting in our purple martin house. Am looking at one couple right now as I’m writing this that has taken over one of the top compartments and is keeping the newly arrived purple martins away by fighting with them.
I will remove the sparrow nest as you suggested and see how many times the sparrows will try and rebuild.
Keep you posted. Side note, We live in a little town in Saskatchewan Canada call Scott.
THANK YOU for warning others of the dangers of lead! We have many Bald Eagles in my neighborhood and surrounding areas. They will eat roadkill or dead groundhogs that people shoot, even the innards of deer during hunting season. We have a wildlife rehabilitation center nearby that deals with eagles as they become deathly ill. Many undergo chelation therapy (“key-lation”). Sadly most do not make it. Please bury the animals or innards. Melissa
I have the same issue with sparrows but there are at least 20 lurking about. Last year they killed the hatchlings and left them on my deck. My town prohibits the use of any BB or pellet gun (I live in a suburban area) but I’m locked and loaded this year. I lure the sparrows to a remote open area with cracked corn. Just be careful where you dispose of them – the lead in the pellets can be fatal to predatory birds like hawks or falcons if ingested.
Scott, your birdseed 101 article was very well done and it helped me a lot, but so many articles on your website have to do with control. I don’t understand why so many people insist on controlling nature. It’s true that humans introduced house sparrows and every other invasive species, but those species are here now and there is little we can do, much less that we should. If another species’ population overlaps with ours in a way that disturbs our way of life, then, we as humans must make an effort to take control, lest the invader win. However, if that is not the case, and both populations live together separately, what right do we have to control a species that poses no threat to our well-being? Invasive species were introduced to new ecosystems because we, as a species, wanted to control not only land, but each other and the living breathing creatures around them, partially for entertainment, and just because they could. I’d like you to keep that in mind and think about the goal of this article.
My husband made a cage out of chicken wire to place around the nyjer feeder. The goldfinch can get in but house Sparrows are too big.
I use a van ert live trap they work well you just have to be carful and check on it often in case you trap a bluebird.but if you have to many house sparrows yoh might want to consider not putting up a box.
I don’t think I will ever get used to them starting hating them when they would kill my bluebirds and sweet chickadees in all my boxes so bought the van ert trap works like a charm.If I didn’t Trap I wouldn’t be able to put any boxes up Because they are way to aggressive.
I put up a blue bird house for blue birds to nest in. Have very few house sparrows. When blue birds start their nesting if I see any inference from the house sparrows I shoot and kill them with a pellet gun. Very humane. They are a mean aggressive birds.
I have a feeder with 1 1/2 square holes. I purchased insulation support wires and wove them vertically in the squares directly in front of the feeding ports. Finches go behind the wire but most sparrows are to large. I have up to 30 house finches at a time but very few sparrows but on the down side most larger birds can’t get in either.
where are you ,Im in cicero,and this year the sparrows are taking over my bluebird boxes.The bluebirds used this box last year and came today to investigate but the sparrows drove them off. Which trap work for you & how much was it, where did you get it , we have 2 boxes placed on opposite sides of our house so we can watch the birds.Last year we had 9 fledge, but lost one male bluebird to murder by sparrow inside the box as the couple was starting their second nest….
There is a place selling halos now! I just ordered one 🙂 https://birdfeederhalo.com/
The sparrows are taking over my Martin house. Very discouraging. Thinking about not feeding birds anymore. 😢
I’m totally down with this. The obvious questions being do you mistakenly trap other species? And if so, can they be extricated from the trap safely?
I have no sentimental issues using this method. Thanks for the tip
It’s so disheartening to hear this. I’ll be seriously crushed if this happens. I feel terrible for you. I wish someone had an answer for this…
Right now I’m on edge about raccoons. I know they’ve been here, they stole an entire suet cage, leaving the hook swinging in the wind. They knock over my small bird baths. They have yet to bother a feeder but it’s only a matter of time. As it is now I bring the suet indoors at night and may ultimately have to bring all my feeders in at night!!
Honestly I’m ok if I must do that ( even though I have ten feeders). It’s just getting up before dawn and putting them out that’s the problem.
Sorry I realized I highjacked this thread.
Thanks for sharing your interesting article. I hate to admit it, but the house sparrows have pretty much won the war in our small town backyard. Last year they were eating more nyjer from our finch feeder than the finches, so this year we invested in a “bottoms-up” feeder. This kept the sparrows at bay for several months, but now the females have mastered the technique of hanging upside down and prying the seeds out of the little holes. I tried an upside-down suet feeder, but the sparrows mobbed it and rapidly emptied it. I bought dried meal-worms for the wrens, and at first the sparrows didn’t know what to do with them. The’d come and look, then fly away. But today I spotted two house sparrows busily gobbling all the meal-worms. I considered putting cheap sparrow food at a different location, but decided there is no point. Our neighbors on both sides feed mixed seed which the sparrows love, yet they still come over here for our nyjer and meal-worms. Reluctantly, I’m sounding the retreat. the blue jays will still get their daily ration of peanuts (the sparrows haven’t figured out how to eat those yet). I’ll keep using the finch feeder until I see more sparrows than finches using it. But no more safflower or meal-worms. I’m not going to provide gourmet food for bullies who will eat anything. 🙁
I’m with you. Though I Have never had House Sparrows at my feeders in the country, now we moved to the suburbs and I’m actually on edge about House Sparrows. None yet, but I will definitely trap them if they come. I have friends who are Falconers but they barely make a dent in the population! Thanks for the info on traps.
I’m thrilled, so far no House Sparrows. I’ve never had House Sparrows at any of my feeders, at my 10 acre property inNorthern California , feeding birds for 15 years.
However we just moved into this house Kinda in-the suburbs and I’ve only been feeding birds for a few months now, so we will see.
So far we’ve had Black Capped Chickadees, Dark-Eyed Juncos, House Finches, some Flickers! 😃 Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Rufous Sided Towhees ( on the ground) and a bunch of birds I always miss seeing.
I had tons of Stellar’s Jays at our ranch but none here so far.
I really really miss Cardinals. A lot.
My husband is not a birder but somehow he always sees something new at the feeders but is terrible at the details so I’ve no idea what else is out there!
On the other hand we don’t have bluebirds. Bummer. We do have Mountain Bluebirds but never at my feeders. 😕 Also! We don’t have SQUIRRELS ! I wish we did! Most bird feeding information doesn’t apply to us. Also, we really don’t have a lot of songbirds and I really miss that from the East Coast.
Anyway back to the House Sparrow situation. I’m with the first commenter. I dislike them. I’d trap and kill them. We need our songbirds.
Glad I found this site! I have no one to talk birds with!
Trapping is the only way to get rid of sparrows. Wire caged traps are sold on internet. To send these trash birds to sparrow heaven, simple dig a hole same size of trap in your yard. Fill it with water and drop the trapped birds into the water and drown them. Then use bodies for fertilizer..Works great. .You have to kill the “leading “roster’ of the flock.. Worked for me. No more sparrows in my yard. .Killed about 40 of them.
I tried giving cracked corn to the sparrows away from a platform feeder where I put peanuts and stripped sunflower seeds for the jays and the cardinals. The sparrow would not touch the corn! I also have a lot of doves visiting the feeder but I don’t really mind them as much since they aren’t really aggressive with the rest. They wouldn’t eat the corn either.
Now I have some sparrows are visiting the platform feeder: they come when the cardinals come, they try to eat the seeds, and since they can’t eat them, they just scare the cardinals away. They are bullies!!
Now I have finches visiting again (the sparrows had scared them away last year) but I don’t know what to do now with the sparrows… I have already seen them attack the poor finches 🙁
How did you trap them? My mother has an awful time with them. She has a kennel and they get inside of it and eat the dog food.
Trapping & humanely euthanizing is what I am getting ready to do. I hate them. Watched for too long as they have kept native birds away from feeders by pecking them.
I’m not sure why but House Sparrows have not been a problem at my feeders for many years. I have a home in Southwest Michigan close to Lake Michigan and another in an urban neighborhood in Denver, Colorado. I’m in each of my houses about six months of the year. The Michigan house has quite a few feeders, both hanging and platform feeders. Also in the spring and fall in Michigan I spread white millet on the ground for migratory sparrows and Indigo Buntings. I feed dehulled sunflowers, shelled peanuts, niger seed, C&S Peanut Treat suet, meal worms (only near my bluebird box), and in season I also provide sugar water, orange halves, and grape jelly. I generally don’t feed corn unless wild turkeys have been hanging around. I also provide water from drippers to three bird baths and a pond liner “puddle”. I’d describe the human population density at my Michigan home as “medium”; it’s definitely less than a suburb but it’s still a village. There are ample unpopulated areas with water, cover and food, though. Maybe the sparrows go elsewhere because the people pretty much disappear in the winter. Even with all the resources I provide to the birds, I can weeks without seeing a House Sparrow.
Even in Denver, House Sparrows are rare at my feeders. The neighborhood is 50′ by 125′ lots with mostly 1500-3000 sf houses on them, plenty of trees but not much water. In Denver I only keep one niger seed feeder, a squirrel proof bin feeder on a tall pole, and a suet feeder. At times I’ve also had a heated bird bath, and I used to have a recirculating pond. In Denver I get Black Capped Chickadees, a lot of House Finches, a few Goldfinches, Blue Jays, Red Breasted Nuthatches, Dark Eyed Juncos, Downy Woodpeckers, Bushtits, and Northern Flickers (red shafted), all of which come to my feeders. Also occasionally Mourning Doves and Eurasian Collared Doves which feed on the ground underneath. There are plenty of American Crows in the neighborhood but not in my yard. I see plenty of House Sparrows on other peoples feeders (mostly tube feeders) but I rarely see them on mine. In Denver my seed mix is dehulled sunflowers and shelled peanuts.
My best guess is that in each location the fact that the feeders are empty six months of the year encourages the house sparrows to nest elsewhere. But plenty of other birds find my feeders and I have neighbors feeding birds year round, so go figure.
The sparrows around me are impossible to get rid of so far. They eat the safflower I put out and cling to my finch socks. Same with the starlings. Starlings are clings to finch socks! They’re insane, but very resourceful lol. I’m going to try the striped sunflower and peanuts to see how that goes, but they’ll probably just chase away all the goldfinches again and those are my favorite
No, goldfinches are bright yellow in the summer and turn brown in the fall. I just watched this happen over the last few weeks
A massive thank-you for your genius idea of giving sparrows their own feeding site. Those scoundrels frightened all other species of birds away this summer, we were ready to give up. The number of them more than doubled this year. Last count was 60 plus. Three weeks ago, we followed your directions and put a feeder filled with cheap corn on the other side of our drive, the direction they fly in from, across from the main feeders. Keeping the feeder full and making sure there is plenty of corn on the ground, it’s rare they cross over. Finch, Titmouse, Blue Jay, Black Bird, Cardinal, Dove, Woodpecker, have all came back to their favorite feeders. We hope for more and different breeds next summer.
This morning a Dove took command of the platform feeder, fighting off all Blue Jays. The same Jays we see attacking Red Hawks!
Thanks again, Scott!
You’re welcome! That has become my favorite strategy as well for fighting off the House Sparrows. Glad it worked!
House sparrows absolutely feasted and emptied the nyjer seed in my Perky Pet goldfinch feeder.
Goldfinches change color in the summer – more of a brown, sparrow type coloring. They change back to yellow in the fall.
We have seen way too many swallows killed in the nest box by sparrows. No, I just can’t seem to learn to like them. Gonna try the cracked corn method and hope for the best. We tried the mono filament string outside the bluebird boxes but the sparrows got used to it and returned to the boxes. The neighbour feeds the little devils and they live in his car bush. We sprayed the bush (at night in the dark) with deer repellent. It worked for two days, then the feathered beasts returned. Don’t know what will do next.
I fed cardinals, an occasional blue jay, chick-a-dees and dark eyed juncos all winter. In spring, the cardinal was still here and I had several goldfinch. Then came the sparrows. Now all the goldfinch disappeared. I feel thistle and black-oil sunflowers exclusively. When it’s gone, I plan to switch to your suggestion of striped sunflower seeds. My question is, do the sparrows frighten off the goldfinch? I have several small birds about the size of a goldfinch which eat the thistle, which look like goldfinch but are brown. I had so many lovely birds in the Winter and Spring, but now, even with thistle, the goldfinch are gone.
Thank you for these tips! I am new to birding, but unfortunately the Sparrows have taken over all of my feeders and I need some advice. I currently have a large tube feeder, a thistle feeder, a hopper feeder that also holds 2 suet cakes, a tray feeder and a peanut feeder. The only one that they don’t seem to pay attention to is our hummingbird feeder, though they also don’t seem to be eating much from the thistle feeder, but our goldfinches don’t come around as much now that there are so many Sparrows. There is a bush near these feeders that the sparrows really like to hide in.
The hopper feeder has a songbird blend in it which they seem to love the most. I put cracked corn in the tube feeder and tired moving that toward the back of our yard and sprinkling some on the ground. It is also near a small tree to give them shelter. But so far they haven’t gone back there. Now the hopper feeder is even more crowded. Any tips to get them to move to that feeder rather than the other ones? Or will they simply figure it out eventually?
Thank you for your posts! I’ve been reading many of your articles!
I live in an area that shouldn’t be visited by bluebirds; but over the past two years I have noticed them around my home more frequently. They are my absolute favorite!! This year was amazing! I have a tree stump in my front yard; readily visible from my porch, and from the couch.The stump was here when I bought my house. This spring, bluebirds made it their home!! They raised several babies, and it was such a thrill to watch, and photograph, these beautiful, gentle birds. All of a sudden, they were gone. Here the night before; next morning…nothing. That afternoon, I began to see several sparrows flying around that tree stump! And they have been around it ever since (almost 2 weeks now). I am devastated and heartbroken. When I am home and notice them around it, I do chase them away; but I work full time and can not possibly keep up. Because it’s a tree stump (covered in poison ivy too), I can’t even clean out a nest if they are building one; and can’t bear to find a dead mommy blue in the cavity either! Does anyone have any suggestions on how to keep them out of the tree?? I don’t believe in killing other living things (exception, spiders; sorry); but these birds do not play fair!!
House Sparrows can enter holes that are 1 1/4th inch diameter. Chickadees can enter holes that are 1 1/8th inch diameter, but House Sparrows cannot.
How about the No/No Yellow Finch Feeder and only put nyjer inside? House Sparrows will still use it a bit, but they shouldn’t overrun the feeder as nyjer isn’t their favorite. I don’t think there is a way to stop House Sparrows completely but still have goldfinches, but I think using this feeder with nyjer should help. You could also in addition put cracked corn on the other side of your yard to help draw the House Sparrows away. Good luck!
Shesha – Though I appreciate your sentiment, “I think every living being has a right to live until and unless they are not coming to kill you,” I think this opinion is fallible. For instance, take the Burmese python which has invaded the Florida everglades and killed every known species of mammal, bird, turtle, frog, you name it, for thousands of square miles. Yes, entire species wiped out. Even alligators have a hard time competing with the pythons in the most congested areas. There are documentaries on this subject. Now what do we do? Let the Burmese python continue to spread? The only solution is to eradicate the python. Yes, let them live in Burma but not in Florida. Also, there are many other invasive species that we humans have introduced to non-native habitats that have become a huge problem that are normally not a problem in their native lands. For instance, the American raccoon is problem in Japan. In Europe, the introduction of the American grey squirrel has threatened the very beautiful native red squirrel in many areas. The animal kingdom has huge problems caused by humans but only humans, through science, can fix it.
Thanks David for the thoughtful and respectful reply. I could not have said it better and agree with you whole heartedly.
Really, the best solution is that Everybody have a zero tolerance for them nesting on their property, then it doesn’t matter what food you put out, but fat chance at getting your neighbor to evict that cute little invasive monster eager to peck a hole in the head of any native bird that appears in its way.
Hey Joe. I agree with you about not allowing them to nest. You are correct in that most people find a baby birds nest adorable in their yard and encourage them to nest, not knowing what sort of damage the House Sparrows are causing.
I live in MO and have not been able to use my gas fireplace for several years due to small birds in the vent on the outside of the house. I suspect cleaning it out may be necessary but my fireplace co won’t assist and if I could get the nest out, I’m thinking in the fall) then where can I get something to prevent them from getting in there next spring..? Thanks
Without Id, $. Serious* this fail of my auto-corector that i hate
Do you mean to feed them?!? They don’t deserve! Id you cant$ get rid of them, don’t appreciate them and don’t put feeders! Let’s be serios! Huge pests?!?! No!
I’m not sure my concern will be liked here but I feel bad for my little sparrows. I live in an urban area and they built a nest in a tiny hole on my balcony. They were there for two seasons and this season they came to be too much. (after the babies left) we plugged up the hole. They are very messy and poop everywhere! But my concern is the male won’t leave. He just sits on my railing and does this CONSTANT same chirp all day and night.
I almost want to open the hole back up. I feel like we stole their home. We just assumed they would move on and make a new nest. Any suggestions? (Please only helpful non harmful suggestions please)
Hey Stef, if you plugged up the hole then I’m sure he will move on eventually!
I found last year they were making a nest in my bluebird house, after hours of research and much frustration I hung some mylar strips on the bluebird house, this has helped with the problem. They did kill one of my bluebirds however….grrrr!! I now check the nesting box frequently and if I can see the sparrow’s going in and out I quickly clean the nest box out. I like the idea of hanging a feeder in another location, I will try this because they just take over my regular feeders and all my pretty birds are going away because of the damn sparrows. I have a pair of Orioles now which don’t seem to effected by the sparrows but I am not wanting them to get ran off. So far the sparrows are not showing interest in the oranges or the grape jelly I put out for the Orioles. I will try the other sunflower seeds for sure now. Thanks for the information I found it to be helpful
The more that I deal with House Sparrows and see what they do to other native birds, the more that I dislike them!
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! :))
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.
They are evil ! That’s why
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!!
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.
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 🙁
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!
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.
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.
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!!
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!
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……
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.
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.