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Any idea on how to Permanently get rid of house sparrows? They've taken over the bird feeders we've set up for our pigeons. Plus, they destroying all my plants and creating a huge mess everyday. I've tried feeding them separately, setting up decoys, even have dogs but nothing seems to be working. They're just too many. We used to see alot of different bird species outside but now all we see are sparrows. I really want them gone and I'd go out and buy a pellet gun but everything's closed. I can't even buy bird poison. Is it possible to make poison at home using household products to all to their feed?

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    Get a Coopers Hawk, downside, he will keep all birds away. Apr 7 '20 at 15:01
  • That's a great idea but sounds too much of a challenge for me. I mean, a hawk ain't your typical friendly pet and i for one wouldn't even know where to start as far as training it is concerned. Apr 8 '20 at 0:47
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You can reduce sparrow numbers by changing what you're feeding the birds. House sparrows tend to like small seeds like corn, oats, wheat, and other types of grain seeds. According to this site, sparrows really like millet and cracked corn (maize). What they DON'T like is sunflower seeds, if those are available in your area.

Changing your feed is far preferable than trying to poison the birds - not least of all because if something poisons sparrows then there's a really good chance it'll poison other birds.

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  • House or English Sparrows in the US will eat about anything. Apr 7 '20 at 15:03
  • They stay away from my feeder in Wisconsin, which contains primarily black sunflower, regular sunflower, and safflower seed. I see primarily house finches, nuthatches, chickadees and cardinals this time of year; when the migration is in full swing I get grosbeaks and other birds that are just passing through - and sometimes starlings or cowbirds, unfortunately. All with this same mix. But NO sparrows
    – Jurp
    Apr 7 '20 at 17:25
  • jurp_ unfortunately that wouldn't work cause even if i did change the feed, they'd still be fed by the neighbours all around and i cant convince them of how sparrows are an invasive species and how much of a nuisance they are to the environment and that they should be seen for what they really are as PESTS. I'd probably get labelled if anything else. Apr 8 '20 at 1:31
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I'm sorry, but I also understand.

We have to control the grackles here or they destroy the diversity too.

I use a good air rifle with a good scope on it. .177 caliber and steel shot. I can discourage them enough that they cannot nest, but I have to be more persistent than they are.

Which means getting up whenever they start coming around and walking around for a few minutes. By now they are smart enough to fly away before I can shoot at them. Luckily they now only come around in the morning and in the evening so they must already have nests someplace else or have given up. There are no active nests this season so far that I can tell. Which is a big improvement over trying to pull nests out of trees and having 50 grackles attacking all the other bird's nests.

I also spent some time learning about them and which ones to target (females are smaller).

Can you go outside and scare them off regularly? If you have anything like tennis balls or something to throw at them that might help get them to move along faster.

And for a while perhaps stop feeding the birds.

We do not feed the birds here at all other than having the gardens for them to forage in and some berry bushes they feed upon.

We do have birdbaths that we keep clean which keeps birds around the yard where we can see them and in the gardens. This approach seems to work well for encouraging diversity but also avoiding the many pests that come with feeding.

Note, I do not enjoy this, nor would I do it otherwise, but I consider it a part of being a good steward of this land to encourage diversity as best I can so to spend a few minutes here or there managing the bird populations is worth it.

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  • you want to be careful how far you go with the grackles, since they're native birds that are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Not that I'm not sympathetic to your plight - just make sure you don't run afoul of the law when removing nests or shooting at the birds. :) Jul 12 '21 at 17:49
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I used to have a huge problem with house sparrows, and there are a couple of measures that helped me a ton in my war to make the backyard safe for other songbirds. In summary, these are:

  1. Remove sparrow-friendly food and feeders
  2. Protect remaining feeders with a magic halo
  3. Trap them (humanely) if legal in your area

Pick your food and feeders carefully

House sparrows love millet and are big fans of cracked corn as well. Go for black oil sunflower seeds (beloved by many backyard birds) and safflower (bonus - squirrels tend not to like it either). They also tend to like feeding on the ground or in tray feeders, and unlike many other songbirds aren't particularly good at hanging sideways or especially upside-down to feed.

Make or buy a Magic Halo

The magic halo is just a few strands of weighted hobby wire dangling from a ring around the feeder. For whatever reason, HOSP will avoid a feeder with thin wire hanging around it and other birds will be undeterred. You may eventually get some particular brave birds that go to the feeder, but it tends to cut the numbers down by at least 90%. I credit this, more than anything else, to the return of diversity at my feeders.

If you are in the Americas...

... then house sparrows are an invasive species. In the US, this means they have no protections under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and you can do pretty much whatever you want to them (this is not legal advice, check your local laws). Similar situations may hold true in other countries.

Use traps, not poison. As @Jurp points out, poison is far more likely to kill birds indiscriminately and not only is that not what you want, it could also get you in legal trouble if you end up killing native birds. Far better to use traps that catch the birds alive (allowing you to release non-HOSP bycatch). I got myself a Deluxe Repeating Sparrow Trap, and it's worked brilliantly. Starts off slow, but once you've got a few decoy birds you can leave in the trap they'll flock to it.

Once you've caught some HOSP, you can humanely euthanize them or trim their wings (see below). See http://www.sialis.org/hospdispatch.htm for more on which methods are recommended to painlessly dispatch the birds. Remember that even though they may be pests in your area, songbirds like HOSP are more intelligent than you think and deserve your compassion.

If you prefer not to kill, there are wing trimming methods that help control the population. This is the method I went with because I'm too big of a softie to kill a bird. If you follow the instructions here http://www.sialis.org/wingtrim.htm you can trim the ends of their wings in such a way that they can still fly and avoid predators, but become more docile and won't build a nest or have babies that season. The thinking is that with trimmed wings they don't have the aerial maneuverability to get in dogfights or bully other birds, and it costs just enough extra energy to fly around that they'll spend their time eating rather than reproducing.

But don't bother trying to relocate them - even if they aren't pigeons, they're still good navigators and will find their way back.

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