Sparrow relocation: do they "home"?

We have a sparrow problem in our barn. This non-native invasive nuisance bird is reproducing out of control due in part to easy access to chicken feed and nesting sites. Our bluebird nest boxes are mostly sparrow invaded boxes. I’m worried they bother the barn swallows. So, my gf tasked me with addressing the situation without killing the birds.

I built a repeating sparrow trap that works beautifully, averaging 6 trapped birds a day. I then load the birds into a small carrier and take them “for a ride in the country”, wherever my travels take me. At some point I open my Jeep window and let them go. Though I try to be subtle, I’m sure someone has seen a flock of tiny birds exiting my car and wondered what was up.

I’m wondering, from a practical standpoint, how far do I have to drive before I’m certain they will not return to our barn? Have tried searching, but haven’t found an answer.

We all have fun in different ways. My WAG is that the little blighters will simply up their reproduction rate to make up for the ones you take on country retreat.

Given that sparrows are native here, we do not seem to have the problems you have, and in fact there has been concern that sparrow numbers have been falling.

I would expect that something will limit their numbers soon enough, they are prey for many other critters, and predator number always lag the prey. You might end up with a lot more hawks, owls, squirrels etc.

So Cal here, in the 1950’s we were overun with sparrows, by the 1960’s startlings started to take their place. The crows came in to feed on startling nestlings and eggs and the crows started growing in numbers. Fast forward to present. We have manageable populations of sparrows, crows and startlings now.

I am actually starting to see my songbirds reappearing in recent years.

An internet search for “sparrow control” will give you lots of results. is one good website.

For the non-lethal approach check out the section on wing trimming; the birds can still fly to find food and avoid predators but they are unable to attract mates because they fly funny … so the population gradually decreases.

Not sure but I think you may have posted before about putting out lots of bird food … so also read the section about which seed to put out. I solved much of my sparrow problem by feeding only safflower seed; a bonus is the squirrels don’t eat it either.

There are also various bird spikes, coils, slides, spookers, etc. that can prevent sparrows from nesting –

It will be an ongoing effort and you probably can’t maintain a completely sparrow-free zone without lethal means but you can significantly reduce their numbers on your property. Good luck.

House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) are rather sedentary. This study in 1968 found that only 7 birds out of 112 captured and released from 9 to 22 miles away returned to the original site.

Taking them 10-20 miles away might cut their numbers, especially if you release them near an abundant food source like a feed lot. However, a few are likely to return. You’ll need additional control measures rather than just translocation.

Also note that they are called House Sparrows – they like to live in and around human habitations, not out in the wilds. Consider that relocating them, even if successful from your viewpoint, is much like catching mice, rats, and cockroaches and throwing them into your neighbors’ yards.

Do you have a wildlife rehab nearby? Give them a call. The rehab where I volunteer would LOVE to hear from you. Live sparrows and/or pigeons are really useful in the rehabilitation process for raptors - it’s important that their hunting skills are assessed before release. If a wild bird is too habituated to being fed dead prey, it can jeopardize their release. So it’s not a non-lethal solution, but maybe one that your gf will agree to?

In nesting season, you can remove the sparrow nest before they lay eggs. If you do this enough, the sparrows will get discouraged and make new nests elsewhere, leaving the nest boxes vacant for bluebirds.

Yes, there is a wildlife rehab center that my gf donates $$ to every year. I’m sure she’d be cool with this.

I know that the trap/relocate thing will have to be ongoing, but I’ve made the best of it by planning release sites that are enjoyable (a bar, a friend’s house, another bar, etc).

Eliminating preferred feed (I’m looking at you, cracked corn) is difficult because we feed domestic geese, wild ducks, wild turkeys, etc.

And yes, bob++ it is “fun”. The trap utilizes a little teeter-totter thing that really works. It was fun to build and fun to operate. Plus my gf is happy. Always a plus!!

From Turble’s first link: