How to Discourage House Sparrows from Feeders


Monofilament fishing line seems to deter House Sparrows at my backyard feeder @ Carolyn Ragan

Monofilament fishing line seems to deter House Sparrows at my backyard feeder @ Carolyn Ragan

I really get discouraged when I fill the feeders and then look out to see hordes of House Sparrows emptying it within a few hours. Let’s face it, this year the trek out to the feeders is a treacherous event. Get the boots, get the scarf, get the hat, get the gloves, get the shovel, and then venture out to the backyard and hope you don’t fall down. The technique pictured here has solved that problem.

What I did was find some monofilament fishing line in the basement and cut into lengths about 2 to 3 feet long. Then I tied them in random places around the cage of this feeder. I have also seen pictures of the filament tied at the edge of the umbrella-type squirrel baffle that is placed above the feeder. Some directions say to put weights like nuts on the end of the line. Not that kind of nut, rather the metal kind as in nuts and bolts. Google “sparrows fishing line” and you will find more information. One site is

I haven’t seen any of the hordes in weeks. There is one really smart, brave female House Sparrow that comes alone and seems to study the situation and plucks up the courage to get past the filament to feed. I cannot begrudge her the few morsels she consumes. It happens that House Sparrows are very fearful of fishing line or filament. They will fly up to the feeder pictured and put on their brakes midair. They must be thinking, “Whoa, what the heck, this is bad”. I don’t know why this is but they must have something in their DNA that tells them this is dangerous. The chickadees, goldfinches, house finches, Carolina wrens, and tufted titmice have no fear and enjoy the free meal.

Carolyn Ragan

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  • Liz

    I’m going to try this! I’ve also wondered if females are better at getting past the filament. I see more of them than males figuring out the “halo,” as well as managing to flap upside-down enough to eat suet.

  • Nancy Tuckerman

    I love this. Is it still keeping the sparrows away? I don’t want to spend money on a cage feeder if the nasty little birds are going right through the monofilament. The halo only worked for a few weeks for me.
    Nancy Tuckerman

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