Sparrows may look innocent when they land on your feeder or take up residence in one of your bird houses. They can, however, become a terrible nuisance for people and other birds. The house sparrow in particular can wreak havoc on the rest of your backyard bird population. They bully other birds by:
- Breaking apart eggs
- Eating their young
- Trapping and killing adult birds
- Excluding other breeds in the cold, killing them by exposure
- Dominating feeders other birds once used as a food source
Once they move in, sparrows are difficult to chase away. While the Humane Society claims house sparrows are not to blame for a decline in native bird species, they can still cause a lot of trouble for the other bird breeds around your home.
Preserving your preferred bird population in the face of sparrows means using a deterrent that will keep house sparrows at bay without affecting their fellow birds. If you have them in your house or other building, it will take some work to get the sparrows out and then to prevent them from returning.
Deterrents that Work on Sparrows
There are a number of general bird deterrents that should work to keep sparrows away. This is a good option if you need sparrows and other breeds out from under your eaves or out of your vents. Gel is a common suggestion; bird gel is a sticky substance uncomfortable for birds to stand on. The issue with gels is they can gum up a bird’s feathers or even trap a bird altogether. If you decide on a gel, simply pump it out onto the areas where sparrows tend to roost.
Another overall deterrent is a sonic system that plays both bird warning calls and predator sounds. These devices scare birds off by replicating a situation where one bird warns others about an owl or hawk. Other options commonly suggested for sparrows as well as other birds include electric shock strips and netting. If you have a house sparrow infestation somewhere in your house, like the attic, you will need to perform an “exclusion”, a process of sealing off their living spaces while the birds are gone.
Evicting Sparrows but Not Other Birds
A few deterrents should work specifically on sparrows. If you want to keep them out of your backyard birdhouses, the first step is to move the houses further away from your home. Sparrows need heat to stay alive in winter and are always more likely to stay near a heated building when possible. Other bird breeds will be more comfortable a little further from your house. You can also devise a string system with thread and thumbtacks around the entrance to each birdhouse. This simple method, recommended by Outlaw Garden, makes sparrows treat houses like they are guarded by an electric fence; it is not a noticeable deterrent for other birds.
Passive Sparrow Repellents
Another “passive” deterrent option is eliminating what sparrows eat from your feeder mixture. Sparrows are attracted to sporso millet and cracked corn, according to Sialis.org. You should also not put out bread for birds to eat as this, too, will attract sparrows for feeding. Without a close and regular food source, sparrows are likely to move on with regards to their living situation.
You don’t need to wait for sparrows to leave while you watch other bird populations die off and run away, nor should you tolerate these birds clogging up your outside vents and gutters. Take action by selecting a deterrent you think will work to make your house bird free, or use one of the passive measures mentioned here to boot the sparrows out of your birdhouses so other breeds can nest in peace.