Sparrows seem to be small, harmless birds, but they can prove to be a nuisance if they occur in large numbers. See how you can discourage and get rid of them from your backyard.
Sparrows (passer domesticus) are plump, brownish-gray birds that were introduced into North America a few hundred years ago. They are gregarious and flock and roost together as a group. They build their nests close to human dwellings.
Their diet consists of all kinds of grains, seeds, and weeds. Highly adaptable, sparrows can even feed on tiny insects if grains and seeds are unavailable. The sparrow is seen more as a nuisance than as a charming, chirpy bird.
Being so widespread, sparrows are carriers of a number of parasites and germs that can affect humans. They can cause extensive damage to crops and plants. As they are highly prolific they can upset the population of other songbirds like purple martins and bluebird. They are known to nest alongside martins and bluebird, even inflicting harm and killing them.
How to Get Rid of Sparrows
Remove any or all spots near your house that can act as nesting and roosting areas for the birds. Block all gaps and openings in buildings, garages, warehouses, open spaces between air-conditioners etc. Stuff pieces of foam between the crevices or use bird nets and cover up the openings.
Check for open or broken windows. Have the windows replaced or cover them with plastic and wooden boards, or bird netting.
Use bird traps that prevents sparrows from escaping. As bait, you can use popcorn, millet seeds, bread, biscuits which are fresh. Once you have trapped them, trim their wings as it prevents them from harming, attacking nests of other birds, and they become easy targets for predators. Check the traps and release any other birds that get accidentally trapped.
Another alternative is to release the trapped birds a good 20-30 miles away from your house. But this is not a very effective option, since they may just create a nuisance elsewhere. Secondly, you may find the sparrows returning to your home because these birds have a very good homing ability.
Euthanizing trapped birds is another option. Some people may not be comfortable with this way of elimination. But, if you prefer to apply it, contact the National Wildlife Health Center or the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association which provide information on the legally accepted methods and agents used for euthanasia.
Use bird nets if you have planted high-value crops in your backyard or farm. Ensure that you seal all openings once you have covered the crops with the nets.
Get rid of shrubs and low-growth vegetation which is used by sparrows for roosting. Remove or prune any privet hedgerows and small bushes since these act as excellent hiding spots for sparrows. If you have ivy-covered walls, cover them with a fine bird mesh. Densely grown ivy provides an ideal nesting place for the sparrows.
Removal of eggs and nests works as an efficient way to get rid of sparrows. With the help of a long pole, simply remove the nest. Do this every time you notice the sparrows building a nest. Soon enough, they will make their nest in a different location.
You can also destroy the eggs by refrigerating them and then coating them with corn oil. This renders the eggs infertile. But this must be done as soon as the eggs are laid. Then keep the eggs back in the nest. Sometimes, when the sparrows realizes the eggs will not hatch, they will abandon the nest.
Remove all food, water sources from your gardens, backyards. Sparrows flock to such areas increasing the problem. If you like to keep a bird feeder in the yard to attract the native birds of your area, fill the tray with safflower, sunflower and niger seeds. Sparrows do not like these and may not visit your garden. Do not put millet, oats or bread crumbs.
Use bird repellents to drive away the sparrows. Repellents are available in many forms including gels, sprays, and powders. Read the instructions on the packet carefully before using them so you do not hurt any other plant and animal life.
Buy fake owls and snakes and place them on trees and on the ground. These are known predators of sparrows and often startle the birds, driving them away. But use replicas that move every once in a while, and change the positions periodically. If the sparrows realize it’s a replica, they will not feel threatened by it.
Use of firearms and guns to eliminate sparrows is another option. But do not use it unless you are familiar with gun laws and have the permit to use one. Check with the local and state authorities about laws governing wildlife before you resort to this option.
Unfortunately, sparrow population is uncontrollable and has become a threat to many other native bird species, including purple martins and bluebird, which are protected by federal law. The above methods are sure to work and will definitely keep these birds away from your home. But take care that you do not harm other small birds or animals in the process.