In the company of feathers

House Sparrow Chaos at the Feeder October 06 2014, 0 Comments

   House Sparrows can prove to be a nuisance at many backyard bird feeders. Their crazy flock behavior, non-stop flying in their "gang" between shrubs and feeder, causes lots of chaos and stress for other songbirds trying to compete for food at that feeder. The shy Cardinal will have nothing to do with that "gang" and may prefer to find other more quiet "restaurants" to dine at. Plus, that group of birds can certainly eat you "out of house and home". They eat non-stop, and as their flock grows, so does your bird feeding bill, trying to keep up with them!

So what's a bird lover to do? Let me help with some steps I have found to be effective.

CAUTION: This process should be done only between mid-Summer to early Fall. Do not attempt to do this during late Fall through early Summer, since natural habitat food may be scarce at this time, and your yard birds may be depending on your feeders as their "pantry" and only food source.

  1. First, and foremost, stop feeding any wild bird mix with corn and millet, in your hanging or mounted bird feeders. This type of feed is actually ATTRACTING House Sparrows to your yard and feeder. They like cracked corn and millet. If you have any of this left, find a far away corner of your yard, possibly under an evergreen tree, or under the shrubs the sparrows like to roost in, and sprinkle it on the ground. 
  2. If you are not feeding any of this type of feed, move on to step 3.
  3. Remove all of your bird feeders for two weeks. This is a good time to wash them up and let them air dry in the sun. Plan on not feeding birds for a full two weeks.That is why I stress doing this only from Summer into early Fall. They need to be able to find natural food during this process.
  4. During the two week feeding hiatus, purchase a new, Cardinal-friendly, bird feeder. See the feeder section in my Shop' for Cardinal-friendly feeders. I say a new feeder, because it needs to be a feeder the House Sparrows are not familiar with already. If you already have a cardinal-friendly feeder stored away that you have not been using, feel free to bring this one out and use it for this purpose.
  5. After the two weeks, hang or mount that Cardinal-friendly feeder in a good viewing spot, ideally within 15 feet of an ornamental size tree, or tall shrubs the Cardinals like to perch in, in order to attract them. Put about a cup of Stripe Sunflower in the feeder.
  6. Be Patient. The House Sparrows may come to this feeder and eat the Stripe Sunflower. Again, Be Patient! House Sparrows can, and will, eat anything in your feeder for the time being. It is over time that the flock should thin out and look elsewhere for a more attractive feeding spot. It could take a few months for them to leave. And they may not leave entirely, but the flock should be severely thinned out during this process.
  7. You may add new, or previously unused finch feeders at this time, also, filling them only with nyjer seed. Do not use any finch mixes whatsoever. Again, the House Sparrows may eat the nyjer seed, too. And again, be patient. It may take time for them to move on and decide these feeds are not their favorites.
  8. As time goes on and the House Sparrows have moved on, hopefully, you can add black oil Sunflower and Safflower seeds to your feeders. We would recommend our Black Tie BirdBait TM, as a good quality songbird feed at a competitive price.
  9. During very cold temperatures, do not feed Stripe Sunflower, as the meat inside this very tough shell is minimal for the work it takes to shell it. The meat is smaller than the black oil sunflower meat, which is easier to shell for the birds. Instead, during bitter cold temperatures, i recommend you feed Premium Meats, an "imperfect" blend of sunflower chips and hearts, with a few seeds still in the shell, and various chip sizes mixed together.