, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 16, 2013

New ways to deter house sparrows


So for anyone who has defeated the squirrels, these house sparrows are now public enemy number one. Like the grackles, these birds eat most every kind of seed that you can put out. They are particularly fond of mixes that contain corn or millet. If those are not available, they will eat sunflower, especially without the shell, but they also will eat the black-oil sunflower without problem. Striped sunflower, with its larger, harder shell is less attractive to the sparrows and some customer have told me that, like the grackles, sparrows like safflower even less.

What I did at our previous location, where were had bushes full of sparrows, was to put less expensive corn on millet in a tray feeder on one side of the building and put black-oil sunflower in tube feeders on the other side. The corn and millet kept the sparrows occupied while the chickadees, nuthatches and cardinals enjoyed the sunflower with less interruption from the sparrows. It wasn’t foolproof, but it helped.

I recently have learned about another mostly effective method of keeping squirrels off of feeders. Well actually, I was told about it by an older birding friend a few years ago and I just didn’t believe it. She told me that she put a wire ring (I think she used an old tire rim, in fact) secured to her feeder pole above the feeders, and hung weighted strands of string vertically around the feeders, with the string space about 8 inches apart. She told me the sparrows wouldn’t go near the feeders after that but all her other birds fed without problem. Really? Then, a couple of months ago, I went to visit a friend who has a bird store in Sturbridge. I looked outside his window and there he had a feeder with four strings hanging down around it. I had to ask. Bill told me that he was inundated with house sparrows and put up the strings after hearing about them as a sparrow deterrent. He said that now a sparrow doesn’t go near his feeder. Meanwhile, I watched chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches come and go.

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