House Sparrow Problems at the Feeder? 6 Methods to Discourage English Sparrows
Are House Sparrows eating most of your birdseed?
Do they drive off other birds and mob your feeders?
Read on for methods to deter the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), a.k.a. the English Sparrow.
Before You Start
Are They Really House Sparrows?
In the U.S. federal law protects all birds except the House Sparrow, European Starling, and Rock Pigeon.
Make sure the birds are really House Sparrows before using these methods.
No 100% Prevention
House Sparrows (HOSP) are numerous, invasive, and aggressive. These methods should decrease but not eliminate problems.
From approximately the easiest, least expensive to more expensive options:
1. Choice of Birdseed
Changing the birdseed you offer is the easiest choice, but perhaps not the best deterrent.
2. Add To and Modify Your Feeder
Some techniques to make your feeder less appealing to House Sparrows:
- Add plastic mesh to the bottom of platform feeders, slightly elevated from the floor, to prevent "ground" foraging of seed
- Trim perches to less than 5/8"
- Try a seed port wire:
In open port tube feeders with perches, bend a 10" piece of flexible wire in half. Feed the wire through the port, loop it over one perch and pull it tight and tie it off around the other perch. The strands of wire make it harder for the sparrow to get seed out of the feeder, but do not affect finches, chickadees, nuthatches or other desirable songbirds. -- Sialis
3. Fishing Line (or Wire)
You can use 6-20 lb. clear monofilament fishing line in two ways.
First, you can hang the lines 12-24 inches apart around your feeders. Weigh the ends with small fishing weights or other small weights to keep the lines from tangling bird wings.
For the hanging lines, some recommend the lightest weight of hobby wire you can find, instead of fishing line.
Second, you can attach short strands of the fishing line to all feeder types, as shown at Rollerfeeder.
4. Choice of Feeder
Try a globe feeder that swings in the breeze, or try an upside-down finch feeder.
It's only rumored the House Sparrows may not like the swinging, and upside-down feeders limit you to finches and possibly a few other birds that like to perch upside-down.
5. The "Magic Halo"
You install the Magic Halo, a round circular structure made of wire, over a hopper feeder or, with little adjustment, a tube feeder.
Attaching monofilament line (see above) to the Magic Halo will increase your chances of success.
You can try making your own Magic Halo, but it may be difficult. The Halos can be purchased from various online vendors and some birding franchises.
Although not the preferred choice of some wildlife lovers, the most effective method for decreasing House Sparrows at your your feeder is to euthanize them.
Over time, this should decrease the HOSP population in your area -- and increase the populations of less common native songbirds formerly harassed by the HOSP.
Note: relocating may be illegal in your state, and it doesn't work:
... it's analogous to trying to bail the water out of a boat by taking buckets of water from the back and dumping them in the front. -- Purple Martin Conservation Association
Check out birding site Sialis for more details on deterring HOSP from more than feeders.