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I've received a couple inquiries about the "fishing line trick" I mentioned,
so I'll just post the note I sent to them.  

 

 

The fishing line trick is something developed by the folks who are dedicated
bluebird box monitors.  You can keep house sparrows from starting a nest in
bluebird box if you run a V of fishing line from the roof, alongside the
portal, and attached below the hole.  I understand this doesn't always work
if the sparrows are already in residence, and it may not work forever.

 

In the same way, it can be a temporary fix for a feeder, but it might be
something you could do intermittently to give a few of your birds a chance.


 

On any feeder that has an overhang, like a traditional hopper, you can
attach finer fishing line..something like 5-7 pound test.running from the
roof corner to the tray corner directly below.  You are essentially "boxing
in" the feeding area with just four fine vertical pieces of line.  This
might be a pain if you must lift the lid to fill the feeder, but you could
use bulletin board pins or the like on those two corners.  

 

The feeder I'm using is steel.  It's a Heritage Farms Chalet feeder, with a
heavy wire perch on two sides, and a metal roof.  I just attached loops of
fishing line to strong magnetic bracelet clasps (magnet with a hole through
the center), knotted the line to keep it in the clasp, did a slip knot with
the loop around the corner of the perch and slapped the magnet on the roof.
It's then simple to pop off the lines on one side to fill the feeder.  The
magnets have come loose a few times, and stick elsewhere to the feeder or to
the pole, but I haven't lost them.

 

We don't have tons of other feeder birds right now.still a little early in
the season, but the red-breasted nuthatches use that feeder all the time, as
do chickadees,  cardinals, wb nuthatches, the house finch, Carolina wren,
and, alas, the starlings.  

 

We did this trick a few years ago to large hopper feeder my father had made,
and for the first time, there were goldfinches on the tray eating black oil.
They would never have been there if the sparrows were camping out.
Unfortunately, the sparrows eventually starting using the feeder again, so I
think the trick is to use the fishing line for a while, remove it for a
couple days, and then put it back.  I bet that would work well enough to
make it worthwhile.  I've had ONE male sparrow that has ventured onto the
feeder in the past couple days, but he must be the brave one.  No other
sparrow has used it.  So far, so good.  

 

While writing this, I decided to do a little Googling, and came up with a
few sites that have inspired me to try some new tricks with my peanut
feeder.  I hadn't thought of tying on loose strands of line like they do on
this feeder:  http://www.rollerfeeder.com/house_english_sparrows.htm
Here's another site with some pictures:  

http://www.designbycandy.com/personal/bird2.htm    Or, you can purchase a
Magic Halo for twentysome dollars.  

 

I keep plenty of ground food on the deck, now that juncos and native
sparrows are back, so the house sparrows don't have to work hard for food.
I just wish I could keep the starlings away!  I do put large striped
sunflower on one platform, which the starlings can't eat.  All in all, I
can't complain.  For our "middle of town" yard, we have a yard list of 87
species, including migrants and flyovers.   We enjoy every season.  

 

 

Good luck with your feeders!

 

Heidi McCullough

Kansas City, North (Platte County)

 

 


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