Looking to learn how to get rid of sparrows?
Well then, you're in the right place!
In this guide you'll learn about:
- Sparrow Biology and Habits
- Traps and Elimination
- Visual Deterrents
- Mechanical Deterrents
- Chemical Deterrents
- Auditory Deterrents
- Layered Defenses
What Exactly Are Sparrows?
Sparrows are known by many names. The most common name is derived from their origin in England, English Sparrows.
They're also known as house sparrows because of their insistence on staying so close to people and our houses. Their scientific name is Passer domesticus.
They're not native to North America. They were imported. Eight pairs of them were released in Brooklyn, New York, in the spring of 1851.
Also known as a “winged rat”, they are now widespread due to their lack of natural enemies. They compete with native birds, spread livestock diseases and lice, destroy crops, and make messes wherever they congregate.
They were originally brought in to help control insect pests but now they've become a pest in their own right.
Sparrow average about 6.25-inches in length and weigh somewhere around 28 grams, about an ounce. They are cavity nesters, i.e.; they will make their nest in holes and small enclosures.
They're often found nesting in the walls of houses, under the eaves, in woodpecker holes, and anywhere else they can squeeze into. They can have up to 4 broods per year, with up to 8 eggs in a clutch, which explains their current population. The oldest known sparrow lived to be 15.
They'll eat grains, seeds, fruits, bread crumbs, and more. Due to their numbers and aggressiveness, they often push out and overwhelm native species such as bluebirds, purple martins, tree swallows, woodpeckers, and others.
What Are Your Options In Getting Rid Of Sparrows?
Getting rid of them requires an equally aggressive response from you. We'll look at a number of options.
We've got a lot of information to cover here, so let's get started!
Which Traps Are Effective on Sparrows?
The only other piece of equipment you'll need for trapping them is a container large enough for you to submerge the entire cage in water and drown them.
Sparrows are very aggressive feeders. They'll actually attack larger birds and kill them with their strong beak.
Eventually, they'll either kill or drive out any other birds competing with them for food. This means you probably won't have to worry about trapping other birds when you set out your traps.
Step one is to completely clean out your yard of any and all food sources. This is especially important if you have fruit or nut trees in your yard.
Make a note of where the sparrows congregate the heaviest on the ground to eat fallen fruits and nuts – that'll be where you're going to put your traps.
If you have flower beds or a garden where sparrows are eating you'll need to stretch a net over those areas to deny them access. The idea is to close off all available food sources except for what you'll be putting in the traps as bait.
The bait should be whatever it is they've been eating up to this point. Watch them for a few days to figure out what they're eating, then use that as the bait in your traps.
Once your yard has been emptied of food sources, put your baited traps on the ground where they would normally congregate to eat. Put them out early in the morning before sunrise, or in the early evening after sunset.
Sparrows are only active during the day so putting the traps out at night will prevent them from associating them with you.
They may be a bit skittish around the traps at first, but as you continue to remove any and all fallen fruits, seeds, or nuts from the ground, eventually, hunger will drive them into the traps.
Please note; removing fallen food from the ground will be a daily, ongoing process until the sparrows have been eliminated.
Once the trap is full, drown them by submerging the trap in water. Dispose of the bodies, dry the trap, rebait it, and put it back out again.
We recommend that you purchase several different traps in different configurations and alternate them so the sparrows don't develop an aversion to entering the trap when they see others getting stuck in one.
If they generally gather two or more places to eat – a common occurrence – you'll need multiple traps anyway.
The following video is a review on a live catch sparrow trap.
How About Some Visual Deterrents?
Decoys and other visual devices have been used for decades to discourage birds from entering an area protected by them. Used properly they can be very effective.
The difficulty here is that sparrows don't have any native predators in North America so the choice of workable decoys is very limited.
Coyotes will eat sparrows if they can catch them, which seldom happens. However, there are life-size, 3D coyote decoys that you can easily deploy.
These full-color decoys have a movable tail that does a fairly decent job of imitating actual coyote movements. It looks very realistic and may discourage sparrows from landing near it.
One thing that may help convince sparrows it is real is to “hide it.” Sparrows and other birds are well aware that predators will try to ambush their prey. If they see your decoy “hiding” in the bushes or lurking behind trees it will go a long way toward convincing them it's alive.
Position it in a “hiding” position, then change that position every other day or so. If you leave it in one place too long they'll realize it's not alive.
One alligator decoy in this group is the Gator Guard. It's just the head of an alligator, but it is completely life-like in size, shape, and color. It even has mirrored eyes that seem to “follow” birds as they move around.
Sparrows don't need much water though, so even if the decoy keeps them away from your pond, there are plenty of other ways for them to satisfy their thirst.
Reflective Bird Deterrents
Any reflective surface, especially ones that move in the wind and send shafts of light in every direction, will blind and confuse sparrows in flight or as they're coming in for a landing.
It's basically the same thing as having the sunshine in your eyes when you're driving. It's very disorienting. Reflectors can be used anywhere on your house, roof, garden, or yard and can be very effective in their own right.
There are all kinds of reflective bird deterrents. Most of them are hanging reflectors that move when the wind blows them. As they do, they reflect sunlight in every direction so hang them everywhere you can.
The more reflected beams of light you have crisscrossing your yard, the better. Bright light in the eyes is painful as well as disorienting.
Bird Blazer Lasers, from Bird-X, are a high tech version of hanging reflectors. Instead of reflecting sunlight, these lasers shine painful, but non-harmful laser beams around the area, blinding birds so they can't see unless they get away from them.
Be warned though, you'll need to put one on each side of your house as well as several out in the yard. The ones in the yard should be positioned with overlapping fields of coverage, so they're hitting the sparrows from several different directions at once.
Again, the more the better. These lasers can be pole mounted around your garden or yard. They can also be attached to tree limbs, patio beams, and fence tops.
How About Some Mechanical Deterrents?
This deals with anything the sparrows have to physically come in contact with. Electric shocks, bird spikes, and nets fall into this group.
Aversion/deterrent liquids and gels also fall into this category because they require physical contact, but we'll deal with them separately under chemical deterrent.
The AviShock is highly effective and highly expensive. It consists of a series of strips that pass an electrical current metal along the top of the strips to deliver a sharp, stinging jolt to any bird that lands on it.
Sparrows are so small though, that they can easily avoid being shocked even if they land quite close to it. Several thousand dollars seems to be rather too much money to spend on something sparrows can avoid just because of their diminutive size.
Juguhoovi Defender Bird Spikes, made from high-quality propylene plastic, are small and closely packed enough to be fairly effective against sparrow-sized birds.
They come short segments that have three spikes across their width and can easily be glued, taped, zip tied, nailed, screwed in place, end-to-end to form a continuous barrier on any surface sparrows try to land on. It's still fairly expensive, but it's less than what you'd spend on the electrical system above.
They can be mounted on window sills where sparrows love to gather, as well as gutters, fences, patio beams, and other locations. If you wanted to, you could even attach them to tree branches to keep sparrows from landing and perching there.
One note though; leaves and other windblown debris get caught on these spikes. When enough debris is caught, it creates a cushion or barrier that will protect the sparrows from the business end of the spikes.
You'll need to conduct regular maintenance of the spikes to retain their effectiveness.
Anti-sparrow netting is very useful, in fact, necessary for keeping sparrows out of your garden and flower beds.
If you don't cover these areas you'll be leaving the sparrows an area where they can eat without encountering the traps you're putting out. These nets work best when they're used in conjunction with trapping.
You'll have to build a strong framework to stretch the netting across, and be sure to leave yourself a door or other close-able entrance of some kind so you can get in and out of the flower beds and garden area.
Some birds will get caught in the nets but their principal utility is as a barrier. Deny them access to any food around your house and they'll be driven toward the bait in the traps, or they'll leave altogether. Either outcome is acceptable.
Should You Consider Some Chemical Deterrents?
Liquid and gel repellents rely on physical touch to work.
Bird Stop Aversion
This liquid deterrent uses methylanthranilate as the active ingredient. It triggers an adverse reaction in birds, which creates an incentive for them to leave the area. Please note, however, this is an incentive not a requirement.
You should only use this outside, and you'll need to spray it on with a hand sprayer. Follow the instructions for the proper dilution in water.
4 The Birds
This liquid repellent is a colorless liquid that creates a tacky, sticky sensation which makes the sparrows feel like they're stepping in a puddle of glue.
They'll feel like they're being trapped, resulting in a feeling of panic and flight. It can be sprayed on any surface with a hand sprayer or applied manually with a paint brush.
The same kind of repellent can be found in gel form. It is a thick, pasty gel that has to be applied with a caulking gun anywhere sparrows like to land on your house, patio beams, etc.
This is stickier than the liquid version, and since sparrows are so small, some of them could actually get stuck in it.
Will Auditory Deterrents Be a Good Option?
Sonic bird repellents are devices that use pre-recorded predator sounds to frighten crows away.
Most of the sonic devices available today use predator sounds from North America, the one place where sparrows don't have any natural enemies, therefore these devices probably shouldn't be your first choice.
Ultrasonic devices, on the other hand, could work quite well.
Ultrasonic is defined as anything above 20,000 Hz (or 20 kHz), which is beyond the range of human hearing. Birds and animals can hear them just fine though.
Ultrasonic devices can be positioned around the yard to emit ultrasonic noises at random intervals, programmed ones, or when they're activated by nearby motions.
Ultrasonic devices are controversial. Some people claim they're useless, while others praise them for working miracles in getting rid of their problems.
The best that reliably be said about them is that they will work on some percentage of the sparrows that enter their coverage area. What percentage, we don't know.
Honestly, none of the methods listed will work 100% of the time. All of them work somewhat, and to varying degrees though. This is why we advocate a layered defense.
A layered defense is your best option for getting rid of sparrows or any other bird. Simply put, it is a broad array of anti-bird devices, repellents, and deterrents, all set up in concentric rings around your property.
The sparrows that get by one defensive line will be repelled or deterred by the next one. Add several defensive lines together and you'll get rid of the sparrows. It might take some time but it will be worth it in the long run.