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Q: HELP!- PESKY Bird Problem ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: HELP!- PESKY Bird Problem
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: brudenell-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 16 Jul 2003 06:10 PDT
Expires: 15 Aug 2003 06:10 PDT
Question ID: 231575
I am looking for a solution to a bird challenge that I have been
unable to solve on my own. The problem has to do with 'sparrows' (eg:
Spizella arborea, Spizella passerina ) attacking side mirrors of
vehicles parked on my rural property. They seem to try to land &
attack a reflection and in the process scratch with their claws the
paint immediately below the side window glass. Even more disconcerting
is that in the attack process they deficate and create a
stream down the side window glass and door. I've have tried to park in
different places... no luck. I've hung a small mirror nearby hoping to
have it divert their attention from the parked vehicles... no luck.
And it doesn't matter which vehicle is parked. One thing that I have
noted is that they attack the passenger side mirror more frequently-
but not exclusively. My solution has been to tie bags over the mirrors
overnight- however that is not always practical- especially for
visitors.. I would prefer that it stop totally (without having to trap
and destroy of course). Thank you.

Request for Question Clarification by tutuzdad-ga on 16 Jul 2003 10:07 PDT
Some people report success using strategically placed birds of prey
decoys (manufacturered for just such a problem) around an infested
area as a deterrent. Are you interested in this method? If so I can
provide more in this technique as an answer.


Clarification of Question by brudenell-ga on 16 Jul 2003 17:37 PDT
Hello tutuzdad-ga

The use of decoys of local birds of prey such as owls (used frequently
here in my province to chase away pigeons) has been considered -
however I have been unable to find definitive proof of success with my
sparrow dilemma. I really need a sparrow specific solution.


Subject: Re: HELP!- PESKY Bird Problem
Answered By: knowledge_seeker-ga on 17 Jul 2003 08:36 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi Brudenell, 

Feisty little critters, aren't they?

What you are dealing with are fiercely territorial birds defending
their nest site. Somehow your car and their nest have ended up
together within the sparrows' territory and every time they fly past
your mirrors, they are seeing THE ENEMY.


"The House sparrow is the number two urban pest birds.. They nest in
urban structures, eat scraps and have a large breeding capacity is
some of their traits…

… Damage --  House Sparrows are often a nuisance in urban areas like
manufacturing and food processing plants. Gutters and drainage pipes
clogged with sparrow nests can backup and cause extensive water damage
and fires have been attributed to electrical shorts caused by
machinery housing sparrow nests. Lastly, feces buildup can lead to
structural damage from the uric acid in droppings, plus the bacteria,
fungal agents and parasites in the feces also pose a health risk.

…House Sparrows are aggressive birds and will often force out other
birds from their territories. They are flocking birds and will gather
in the thousands to take over feeding and roosting areas."


"House Sparrows aggressively protect a small territory just around
their nesting site. This is believed to be strictly a protection of
the nest site, and not of any feeding areas. Sparrows have been
observed to threaten, and if necessary, attack 70 species of birds
that have come into their nesting territory. These attacks seem to be
intrasexual, males attack males and females attack only females."


"Once a pair of sparrows has secured territory by force, then both
male and female will vigorously defend it against martins; the
sparrows are establishing site tenacity. These sparrows may become
highly aggressive and attack martins that are looking for nests and
often make sneak attacks on established martins that are nesting
adjacent to or above the sparrows’ nest. …. as the sparrow’s nesting
cycle progresses, the sparrow’s aggressive behavior increases.
Sparrows with young are indeed ferocious defenders of their nest; they
are excellent parents."



First of all, trapping and relocation will not work. At this time of
year you would be trapping and moving parents of live nestlings which
would not be right to do. Besides, they will just return and lay a new
clutch if you move them.

One solution is to wait them out, but this may be a long (and
impractical) process. Breeding season for the sparrow varies depending
on species and location, but in general they seem to lay several
clutches throughout the summer, from April through August.

" THE SONG SPARROW -  Breeding Season: The breeding season begins in
April and ends in August (Baicicich and Harrison, 1997). This species
sometimes has 3 broods, with lost clutches replaced (Baicicich and
Harrison, 1997)"


Or, another solution would be to move the car out of the bird's
territory. This would mean identifying the location of the nest, and
then moving the car well-clear of that spot for the summer. My reading
suggests that the sparrow's territory is not all that large, so you
may not have to move the car far. On the other hand, there may be more
than one pair of sparrows nesting in your vicinity.

If neither of those ideas is practical, then the next thing to do is
either hide the mirrors or place something frightening near the mirror
to scare off the sparrows.

Watch the birds and notice where they are flying from when they go for
the mirror. They may have particular perch that they sit on when they
notice their reflection. Maybe that perch can be removed or blocked.

Also, rearrange the mirrors themselves. Do they fold in? If so, just
push them in as far as they go. If they are electric, it may work to
tilt them downward so a flying bird can't catch a glimpse of itself.  
Or, you might try backing the car in, so the mirrors face the other

Keep in mind that the mirrors may not be the only problem. Your car
windows may be attracting the birds as well. Closely watching their
behavior will help you to identify the trigger.

Here are some ideas for blocking the mirrors or windows ---

"…Placing sheer cloth or netting in front of the window breaks the
reflection and the open-flight-path appearance but retains much use of
the window. Taping crinkled plastic wrap onto the glass has a similar
function. Another approach is to hang cloth or aluminum foil strips in
front of the window, or to plant shrubs. Placing hawk or owl
silhouettes in the window to frighten birds has only limited
effectiveness. Remove the covering when the bird changes behavior and
is no longer a problem. "

Backyard Wildlife - Tips for Success




This is more for your interest rather than a practical solution since
it would be against the law for you to actually destroy the sparrows.
(Songbirds are protected by law). But it does serve to illustrate the
tenacity of these little beasts.

"… simple nest removal will NOT cause a male sparrow to abandon his
territory; it just eventually made him meaner and "vindictive". The
only effective solutions to house sparrow control were trapping and,
when possible, shooting. The sparrows, particularly the males, must be
permanently eliminated…  male sparrows tenaciously hold on to their
territory. They do not give up easily."


When the breeding season is over, if practical you should eliminate
all access to areas where the sparrows are currently nesting… (Unless
of course it is a tree!)

"The best way to control sparrow problems is by exclusion. Replace or
cover broken windows in upper stories with wire mesh, plastic, wood or
sheet metal. Screen poultry houses and feeders to completely exclude
sparrows. Seal all openings larger than 2 cm (0.75 in.). Warehouses,
garages and farm buildings can effectively be blocked to sparrows by
hanging plastic strips the full-length of open doorways."



TanglefootŪ Tangle Guard Repeller Ribbon -  Visual deterrent for birds

Hot Foot Repellent Gel


So that should provide you with a better understanding of sparrow
behavior and a variety of methods for controlling them. If anything
I've said isn't clear, or if any of the links don't work, let me know
and I'll clarify for you.

Thanks for your question and good luck with your feathered nemeses!


search terms:

sparrow territory behavior
sparrow attack behavior
sparrow attack glass
sparrow repellent
sparrow breeding season
brudenell-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Thanks for the thorough answer with several interesting site and
information to check out.

Subject: Re: HELP!- PESKY Bird Problem
From: hummer-ga on 16 Jul 2003 12:02 PDT
Hi Brudenell,

How about trap and relocate?  That's what we have to do with the pesky
squirrels who insist on taking up housekeeping in our house. Sounds
like an interesting phenomena, though!  hummer
Subject: Hello Hummer!
From: brudenell-ga on 16 Jul 2003 17:52 PDT
Great to hear from you! Thank you for your comment. Trap and relocate
sparrows... hmmm... this may be tough, real tough. Won't they just fly
back? or how many must I catch? I do use the trap and relocate
technique for raccoons (who feast on my bird seeded feeders) and
skunks. It is rather amusing to watch. Using a special 'live' trap I
catch them then ferry the critters across the beautiful Brudenell by
canoe to an undeveloped forest on the other side. Now how would one go
about trapping sparrows? I probably would have to drive clear across
the province to release them... and wouldn't the laugh be on me if
they flew right back? I am hoping that someone, somewhere has
experienced a problem similar to mine and may have an inovative
solution. It is annoying but somewhat funny too... because here I am
attracting birds and now they are painting their host with their
Maybe I should just stick to hummers...

Best Regards


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