The house sparrow is a familiar sight in both rural and urban areas. it is about 14.5 cm in length and has a short heavy bill. The male can be recognised in flight by the colour of the wings and back, which are brown streaked with black, and by the short white Wing bar and grey rump. On he ground the grey crown, black throat and greyish white cheeks and underparts make the bird easy to identify. The female and young are duller brown and lack the grey rump and crown, and distinct wing bar. House sparrows do not sing, in the accepted sense, but make a variety of cheeping sounds and are specially noisy during scrimmaging amongst groups of males in spring and summer.

Control of them is difficult because they live in very intensive area and anything that comes into their territory that threatens them they test it by coming closer and closer to investigate what it is.  When they find out it is not a real threat they ignore it.  If you install a Hawk Bird Scarer to try and scare them away they will soon discover it is not harmful to them and they will ignore it.

If they are nesting you will have no hope of scaring them. In fact that is the same for all birds. Once a bird selects a nesting site it will defy anything to return to the nest site. Even removing the nest will not deter it. When sparrows are feeding aggressively they are difficult to control but not impossible.

We suggest to try and eliminate the ones you have then install a Hawk to stop reinfesting. Sparrows are very territorial birds often feeding in just a small area. This means that if you can eliminate the birds in your immediate area you can then stop reinfesting by new juvenile birds.

If your Sparrows are only roosting at the site you will have a good chance of scaring them away. The best way of installing it is with the use of strong fishing line as shown in the installation page.  Just hang the Hawk Bird Scarer under the eve of the doorway or where they are entering the building and this will stop reinfestation by neighbouring birds.


Nests are built in many places: holes in walls and trees rainwater pipes, under the eaves of houses. Normally sites in and around buildings are preferred. In some areas an untidy spherical nest of straw or dried grass, with a side opening, is made in branches of trees. Several pairs of sparrows may nest within a single such grass bundle. Four to six eggs are laid, having greyish or white ground colour. and blotched and speckled with black and brownish markings that vary considerably. The breeding season normally extends from August to March and two or three broods may be reared.

Breeding Habits and Damage

From examinations of the gizzards of house sparrows, it is known that the adults feed largely on grain and that they do most damage during the few weeks before harvest. At this time large numbers of house sparrows, including many juveniles, flock to grain paddocks and live almost entirely upon the ripening grain.

As winter approaches, they feed mainly around buildings, often infesting granaries, where they take or foul the stored grain. They may also take grain from stock and poultry yards. Besides destroying grain crops, house sparrows do much damage to garden produce.

They take buds of plum trees and strip buds, blossom and young fruits of berry and fruit crops. Spring flowers are torn to pieces and the leaves of young carnations, chrysanthemums and lettuces are pecked off. They are very persistent in their attacks on peas, pulling up seedlings, destroying the flowers and opening the maturing pods. House sparrows are largely dependent on man both for their food supplies and nesting sites and occur in great numbers in urban areas.

Buildings such as canteens, bakeries and food stores may become infested and bagged goods may be damaged; food, packing and structures are often fouled. The association of birds with food premises may also give rise to hygiene problems. Large warehouses may support populations of house sparrows that live and breed entirely within the buildings.

The practice of feeding birds at bird tables and elsewhere during winter months is widespread and house sparrows take full advantage of it. Consequently, house sparrow populations in urban and suburban areas are maintained at a high level and, as a result, severe damage sometimes occurs on farms and market gardens close to large towns. From this summary it will be clear that the economic status of the house sparrow must be considered in relation to the type of habitat in which it is living. Where there is much grassland, and grain growing is of no importance, the harm done by the bird may be of little significance, but there can be no doubt that in many areas, both urban and rural, it must be regarded as a pest.

Distribution and Movement

The house sparrow is everywhere associated with man. The largest populations occur in urban areas and in those agricultural regions where the major crop is grain. Once established in permanent breeding quarters, the house sparrow is however, a very sedentary bird and rarely moves more than 3 km.

Control and Damage Prevention

Where sparrows are infesting buildings such as granaries, food stores and milking sheds, the obvious solution is to ensure that adequate proofing is carried out: fine wire mesh screens should be built over windows; any hole in the fabric of the building should be blocked (sparrows can pass through a hole as small as 2 cm in diameter) and particular attention should be paid to eaves, which can often be blocked by crumpled wire-netting.

Doorways may present special problems, particularly if they have to be left open for loading purposes, but the use of plastic strip screens or net curtains attached to runners may help. House sparrows normally avoid dark buildings and, where it is unnecessary for a store to be lit naturally, the blacking out of windows deters birds from entering. It is more difficult to prevent damage to crops, but small areas of valuable horticultural produce may be protected by durable plastic netting.

Cobwebs’ of man-made fibres may also give some protection; commercial packs of these materials are available. Any attempt to control the house sparrow population should embrace the whole of the district infested.

It is of little use to reduce the numbers in one locality if they are allowed to multiply in neighbouring areas, since the wandering juveniles will recognise places that have been previously cleared.

The following are suggested methods of reducing house sparrow numbers

(a) The use of Rat Traps set with fresh bread crust tied onto the trigger is very effective.  Set the traps on upturned buckets or pot plant tubs, or other object to lift off the ground to stop lizards crawling into the trap.  Sparrows can’t resist fresh bread crusts and you will often trap two birds at a time, the trap kills them instantly.  Once the existing population is eliminated then a Hawk Bird Scarer can be installed to stop reinfestation from young juveniles from neighbouring areas taking up residency.

(b Eggs and nests can be destroyed. Regular destruction of nests from September to February will give best results: a single operation is of little use. If the whole nest can be removed during one round of nest destruction, new nests will be more easily located on the next round.

(c) Trapping by means of cage traps, normally baited with whole wheat or crushed oats. The Eclipse trap, with several cone entrances at ground level, is the type most frequently used. Up to a dozen birds may be caught at one time in each trap and pre-baiting is generally unnecessary if established feeding places are used as trapping sites. If this is not possible, it is usually a simple matter to induce house sparrows to feed at a particular point by regular baiting. Soft baits such as bread crumbs and cake are very attractive to sparrows and, where they are not likely to be blown away, can be used as an alternative to grain. Traps should be visited at least twice a day to remove caught birds and, if they are to be unattended for more than a day, the escape door should be left open. Trapping is possible at any time of the year but results may be poor during December and January.

More Bird Pests

Click the links below to read more about a specific problem bird or problem area.

Problem Birds

Problem Areas