First In, Last Out Is NOT Just For Accounting
With tax season well under way, I had to sneak in a quick post about my approach to keeping sparrows and other nuisance birds at bay. It has to do with how smart birds are and how you can use that to your advantage. It IS possible to train the birds you want while discouraging those you don’t. Sometimes, all you have to do is change the schedule on them.
Let me explain.
The Setup: The Birds Invade
Somewhere near the middle of January, I noticed I was starting to see the occasional house sparrow at my main feeder. It was still cold so I didn’t pay attention at first. In what seemed like no time at all, it was a few at the feeder. Shortly after this, I started hearing a lot of chirping going in in the bush near the fence in the back yard. Sure enough, when I focused on the feeder long enough I could see there was a regular stream of sparrows sneaking in for a seed and retreating back to the bush. One quick count had the number at already over ten birds doing this. That is when I decided to make a plan.
I knew we had at least a little more cold weather to come and I didn’t want to harm the birds that depend on me. Sometimes you just have to bide your time. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t working on a method that was just as sneaky as the sparrows-LOL!
The Opportunity Presents Itself
Even though it pained me to watch them flitting and chirping and generally making nuisances of themselves, I waited for my opportunity.
And then, it came.
We got a warm snap that allowed me to put into action the plan I had used in some form many times in the thirteen years I’ve been feeding birds. It has to do with when you put your feeders out. As the name would suggest, the best way I’ve found to thwart nuisance birds is to use their daily flocking patterns against them. Here’s how.
First In, Last Out Explained
Grackles, starlings and sparrows all tend to flock together in the winter time as do many birds. My other birds (cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, woodpeckers, etc.) not so much. They also tend to be more active and seeking out feeders in the main part of the day. My other birds start way before these flocks get active and finish up long after the others have bedded down for the night.
So, what I started doing was waiting until nearly sunset to put out my feeders and take them down just after sun up. That way, they get plenty to eat before the long night and can start off their day right before I take them down. With cardinals, for example, by the time the sun is truly up, they’ve been eating for an hour or so. This works out great for this process.
Before long, I noticed a decrease in general sparrow traffic and perching in my bush. Don’t get me wrong. It’s NOT immediate. They are very intelligent. That’s why they’ve survived as well as they have. But even they have no use for a roosting spot that has no food available for them. Over the course of about a week, I saw their numbers dwindle to nothing. I knew I had made progress.
One day, I felt particularly sorry for my faithful cardinals and decided to put the feeders out early. BIG mistake! Within minutes, it was looking out there nearly like it did before I started. I had miscalculated when the sparrows stopped making their rounds and that’s what happened.
No worries. Pulled down the feeder and stayed steadfast with my plan until they were gone again. Several times I heard them getting in the bushes and around my house but-say it with me-they won’t stay if there’s no food!
Fast Forward To Today
Now, I’ve got all my birds trained to expect the feeders around sunset. I’ve heard almost no sparrow chirping around my house nor have I seen any at my feeders. I’ve even forgotten to take them down until much later and they’re still nowhere to be seen. I really believe they have moved on. I’m a happy feeder again-LOL!
If you have birds coming to your feeders you don’t want and don’t feel like messing with changing food constantly (which really doesn’t work that well for starlings and sparrows anyway) then give the first in, last out method a try. Let me know how you do with it. If you found this article helpful, please share it on your favorite social media network using the buttons provided. Also, leave me a comment to tell me how it worked for you or any questions you may have. That’s what I’m here for!