How Do I Keep Starlings Away From My Bird Feeder

How Do I Keep Starlings Away From My Bird Feeder

Starlings can often become a nuisance when they gather around bird feeders, intimidating other birds and consuming large quantities of food. Understanding why starlings gather around bird feeders and the challenges they pose is essential in devising effective strategies to keep them away.

Starlings are attracted to bird feeders primarily due to the availability of food. Their inclination towards large, communal feeding environments is also driven by a safety-in-numbers instinct. However, their presence poses challenges such as overconsumption of food and aggressive behavior towards other bird species.

To keep starlings away from bird feeders, there are several effective methods you can employ. Using specially designed feeders that discourage starling access, adjusting the feeder placement to make it less accessible to starlings, offering alternative food sources to distract them, and installing deterrents such as baffles or cages can help mitigate their presence.

Additional tips include regularly cleaning bird feeders to prevent the buildup of food debris that may attract starlings, encouraging native bird species that are less likely to be intimidated by starlings, and seeking professional advice if necessary for specialized solutions.

By implementing these strategies and considering the unique characteristics of starlings, you can create a more peaceful and harmonious bird feeding experience while promoting the well-being of other bird species.

Key takeaway:

  • Starlings can be kept away from bird feeders by using specially designed feeders that discourage their presence.
  • Adjusting the placement of the feeder can also deter starlings and ensure other birds have access to the food.
  • Offering alternative food sources for starlings, such as suet or mealworms, can attract them away from the feeders.

Why Do Starlings Gather Around Bird Feeders?

Starlings around bird feeders can be quite a common sight, but have you ever wondered why they gather in such numbers? In this section, we’ll uncover the fascinating reasons behind their attraction to bird feeders. From the abundance of food that lures them in to the safety they find in numbers, we’ll shed light on the intriguing behaviors of these avian visitors. So, let’s dive in and explore the captivating world of starlings and bird feeders!

Attracted to the Food

Starlings are naturally drawn to bird feeders because they are attracted to the food they offer. There are several reasons why starlings find the food in bird feeders appealing:

  • Abundance of food: Bird feeders are filled with a plentiful supply of seeds, suet, and other food sources, making them highly attractive feeding grounds for starlings.
  • High nutritional value: The food provided in bird feeders contains essential nutrients and energy that starlings require to thrive and survive.
  • Ease of access: Bird feeders are designed to be easily accessible and convenient for birds to eat from. They provide starlings with a simple and efficient way to obtain their food.
  • Social behavior: Starlings are highly social birds and often gather in large flocks. They are naturally drawn to bird feeders because it allows them to feed together, providing safety in numbers.
  • Competition with other birds: Starlings are known for their aggressive and competitive nature when it comes to food. They may be attracted to bird feeders in order to outcompete other bird species and secure their food source.

Understanding the reasons behind starlings being attracted to the food in bird feeders can help bird enthusiasts develop strategies to manage their presence and maintain a balanced feeding environment for all bird species.

Safety in Numbers

When it comes to starlings gathering around bird feeders, the safety in numbers is an important factor. Starlings are social birds and prefer to be in large groups for protection. They gather at bird feeders because there is safety in numbers. By flocking together, starlings can keep an eye out for predators and alert each other to any potential threats.

Being part of a large group provides starlings with a sense of security. When one bird detects danger, it can quickly communicate the warning to the rest of the flock, allowing them to take immediate evasive action. This collective vigilance increases the likelihood of survival for individual starlings.

The instinct of starlings to seek safety in numbers can be observed at bird feeders, where they come together in large numbers to feed. When there are other birds also feeding, starlings feel safer and more protected from potential predators.

Pro-tip: If you want to deter starlings from dominating your bird feeders, consider providing separate feeding stations for different bird species. This will help attract a variety of birds and reduce the dominance of starlings.

The Challenges of Starlings at Bird Feeders

Starlings at bird feeders can pose quite a challenge for bird enthusiasts. From overconsumption of food to their aggressive behavior towards other birds, these cunning creatures know how to disrupt the peaceful feeding environment. But fear not! In this section, we’ll dive into the fascinating world of starlings and explore the obstacles they create at bird feeders. Get ready to discover the reasons behind their food habits and the feathery feuds that arise in this avian battleground.

Overconsumption of Food

Overconsumption of food by starlings is a common issue at bird feeders. Starlings, with their large appetites, can quickly consume significant amounts of food, causing other bird species to lose access to the feeders and become deprived of sufficient nourishment.

To tackle this problem, it is vital to implement measures that minimize overconsumption. One effective strategy is to utilize feeders with smaller openings or specialized designs that can limit the food intake by starlings. By restricting their access, other bird species have a better opportunity to obtain their fair share of the available food.

Another approach is to adjust the placement of the feeders. Opting for less accessible locations, such as areas near dense vegetation or under hanging covers, can discourage starlings from overconsuming the food. This allows other birds to have an equal chance at feeding.

Offering alternative food sources can also divert starlings’ attention away from the primary bird feeders. Providing less appealing food options like suet or specific types of seeds can help reduce their overconsumption of the preferred food.

By implementing these measures, a more balanced and equitable food distribution can be achieved among various bird species, ensuring that all can reap the benefits of bird feeders.

Aggressive Behavior Towards Other Birds

Aggressive behavior towards other birds is a common issue when starlings gather around bird feeders. This behavior can disrupt feeding patterns and intimidate smaller bird species. Here are some ways to address this problem:

  • Separate feeders: Use multiple feeders instead of a single large feeder to create more space and reduce competition among birds.
  • Install baffles or cages: Adding baffles or cages around the feeders can prevent larger birds like starlings from accessing them, allowing smaller birds to feed in peace.
  • Use protective covers: Use feeder covers or domes that have smaller openings to allow only smaller birds to access the food.
  • Offer specific feeders: Use feeders specially designed for small bird species that prevent larger birds from accessing the food.

Pro-tip: To further discourage aggressive behavior, regularly monitor your feeders and consider adjusting the feeder placement to discourage starlings while providing a safe space for other bird species to enjoy the food.

Effective Ways to Keep Starlings Away

Looking to protect your bird feeder from those pesky starlings? Look no further! In this section, we’ll explore some effective tactics to keep starlings away. Discover the power of specially designed feeders, ingenious adjustments to feeder placement, the lure of alternative food sources, and the installation of clever deterrents. Say goodbye to starling invasions and create a haven for your feathered friends.

Use Specially Designed Feeders

When trying to keep starlings away from your bird feeder, it is recommended to use specially designed feeders. These feeders have small openings or mesh cages that only allow smaller birds to access the food, effectively preventing starlings from getting in.

  1. Choose feeders with small openings or mesh cages to deter starlings.
  2. Opt for adjustable or weighted tube feeders with perches to discourage starlings from accessing the food.
  3. Consider using feeders with protective domes or covers to create obstacles for starlings.
  4. Prefer feeders with metal perches instead of plastic ones to effectively deter starlings.
  5. Invest in squirrel-proof feeders to prevent starlings and squirrels from accessing the food.

By using specially designed feeders, you can create a bird feeding situation that is less attractive to starlings and allows other smaller bird species to enjoy the food instead.

Adjust the Feeder Placement

To properly adjust the feeder placement and deter starlings from your bird feeder, follow these steps:

  1. Relocate the feeder: If starlings are dominating the feeder, try moving it to a different area in your yard. Sometimes, a simple change in location can discourage them from frequenting the feeder.

  2. Elevate the feeder: Raise the feeder higher off the ground or hang it from a taller tree branch. Starlings prefer lower perching areas, so increasing the height of the feeder can make it less accessible to them.

  3. Use baffles or cones: Install baffles or cones above or below the feeder to prevent starlings from reaching it. These physical barriers can create obstacles that deter starlings while still allowing smaller birds to access the feeder.

  4. Create distance: Ensure the feeder is placed at a sufficient distance from trees, shrubs, or other objects that may serve as perching areas for starlings. This reduces their ability to perch nearby and access the feeder.

Pro-tip: Consider combining these techniques to maximize their effectiveness. Experimenting with feeder placement is crucial to finding the optimal location that discourages starlings while still providing a welcoming environment for other bird species.

Offer Alternative Food Sources

Offering alternative food sources is an effective way to keep starlings away from bird feeders.

  • By planting native plants with berries and seeds, you can provide starlings with natural food sources, thereby reducing their reliance on bird feeders.
  • To discourage starlings from visiting the main bird feeders, create a separate feeding station with food that they don’t prefer, such as safflower seeds or suet cakes made with hot pepper.
  • While ensuring that other bird species can still access food, adjusting the types of bird feeders used can offer alternative food sources and make it less favorable for starlings. Consider using tube feeders with small perches or feeders with weight-sensitive mechanisms to limit starlings’ access.
  • In order to attract a wider range of bird species and prevent starlings from dominating the feeders, provide a variety of food options. Include nyjer seeds for finches or nectar for hummingbirds to draw different birds to the feeding area.
  • Maintain the cleanliness of bird feeders regularly to prevent the build-up of mold and bacteria, which can discourage birds from feeding. This practice creates opportunities for other bird species to access the feeders before starlings do.

Install Deterrents


  1. Install bird feeders with specialized design features that make it difficult for starlings to access the food. This can include using feeders with small feeding ports or mesh cages that only allow smaller birds to enter.
  2. Adjust the placement of the feeders to make it less convenient for starlings. Hang the feeders in a location that is more difficult for them to reach. Consider placing them closer to tree branches or away from open spaces where starlings have a clear line of sight.
  3. Offer alternative food sources to distract starlings from the bird feeders. Planting berry-bearing shrubs or trees in your yard can provide a natural food source that may be more appealing to starlings. This can help reduce their interest in the bird feeders.
  4. Install deterrents to discourage starlings from accessing the feeders. Examples of effective deterrents include bird netting or wire cages around the feeders, which can prevent starlings from landing or accessing the food. Other options include reflective objects, such as shiny tape or CDs, that can create visual disturbances and deter starlings from approaching.

By implementing these deterrents, you can help minimize the presence of starlings at your bird feeders and create a more welcoming environment for other bird species.

Other Tips and Considerations

When it comes to keeping starlings away from your bird feeder, there are other tips and considerations to keep in mind. From regular cleaning of bird feeders to encouraging native bird species, and even seeking professional advice if necessary, these strategies can make a significant difference. So, if you want to protect your bird feeder and create an inviting space for your feathered friends, let’s explore these helpful insights and take proactive steps to maintain a peaceful coexistence with nature.

Regular Cleaning of Bird Feeders

  • Regularly clean bird feeders to maintain the health and well-being of the birds.
  • Remove all remaining food from the feeders.
  • Thoroughly wash the feeders with warm water and mild soap.
  • Use a brush or sponge to naturally scrub away any dirt or debris.
  • Rinse the feeders with clean water until all soap residue is gone.
  • Ensure the feeders are completely dry before refilling them with fresh food.
  • Regularly check for any signs of mold or mildew and clean as needed.

Regular cleaning of bird feeders is essential in maintaining the health and well-being of the birds. By regularly cleaning and removing any remaining food from the feeders, you can prevent the breeding of bacteria and diseases that can harm the birds. Thoroughly washing the feeders with warm water and mild soap, accompanied by using a brush or sponge to naturally scrub away dirt and debris, helps to ensure a clean feeding environment. Rinse the feeders with clean water, making sure to remove all soap residue. To avoid any potential contamination, allow the feeders to completely dry before refilling them with fresh food. Lastly, regularly checking for signs of mold or mildew and cleaning accordingly will further promote the birds’ overall well-being.

Encourage Native Bird Species

Encouraging native bird species in your area is vital for the preservation of a robust and diverse ecosystem. Here are some natural ways you can promote the presence of native bird species:

  1. Planting native plants and trees in your garden is a great way to encourage native bird species. Native plants provide essential food sources such as berries, seeds, and nectar that are relied upon by native birds.
  2. Providing nesting sites is another effective method. Install birdhouses, nesting boxes, or create natural habitats like brush piles that attract native birds and provide them with a secure place to raise their young.
  3. Offering a variety of bird feeders is crucial. Different bird species have distinct feeding preferences, so by providing feeders with various types of food, you can attract a wider range of native birds.
  4. When selecting bird feed, choose blends specifically formulated for native bird species in your region. These blends usually contain seeds and grains that are preferred by the local bird populations.
  5. Reducing pesticide use is essential. Pesticides can harm birds and their natural food sources. By minimizing the use of pesticides in your garden, you create a healthier environment for native birds.

Pro tip: Creating a diverse and native-friendly habitat in your garden not only benefits birds, but also contributes to the overall health of your local environment. Enjoy the sights and sounds of a thriving bird population by encouraging native bird species to visit your garden!

Seek Professional Advice if Necessary

If you’re experiencing persistent issues with starlings at your bird feeder, consider seeking professional advice if necessary. Professionals in the field can provide expert guidance tailored to your specific situation, helping you address the starling problems effectively. They can assess the bird feeder setup, observe starling behavior, and suggest appropriate measures to resolve the issue.

Seeking professional advice can be particularly helpful when dealing with complex or severe starling problems. Experts can offer insights on effective deterrents, specialized feeding solutions, and strategies to discourage starling dominance. Their experience and knowledge can save you time and effort by avoiding trial and error.

Additionally, professionals can provide valuable information on local regulations and guidelines related to bird feeding, ensuring responsible feeding practices that prioritize the well-being of native bird species. They can also help you create a balanced and diverse bird-friendly environment.

If you are unsure about how to address starling issues at your bird feeder, reaching out to a professional can provide you with reliable support and ensure the best outcome for both the starlings and other native bird species in your area. Seek their assistance if you feel it is necessary to address the situation effectively.

Some Facts About How Do I Keep Starlings Away From My Bird Feeder:

  • ✅ Starlings can be a nuisance as they invade bird feeders in large flocks. (Source: Bird Feeder Hub)
  • ✅ Starling-proof bird feeders can help deter starlings from accessing the feeder. (Source: Bird Feeder Hub)
  • ✅ Upside-down feeders, like the Audubon bottom feeder, can prevent starlings from reaching the suet cake. (Source: Bird Feeder Hub)
  • ✅ Cage feeders with small openings can keep starlings away while allowing other feeder birds to access the food. (Source: Bird Feeder Hub)
  • ✅ Some strategies include feeding other birds at times when starlings are less active and using mesh cages or enclosed feeders. (Source: RSPB Community)

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prevent starlings from taking over my bird feeder?

Starlings can be a nuisance and dominate bird feeders, but there are several tactics you can try:

  • Feed the other birds early in the morning and near dusk when starlings are less active.
  • Use mesh cages with smaller grids or adjustable sizes to allow access for smaller birds while keeping starlings out.
  • Consider using an enclosed mealworm feeder with entrance holes that can be slightly bent to prevent starling access.
  • Scatter fat balls in more covered areas to attract smaller birds while starlings focus on the main feeders.
  • Try placing a cylinder of narrow mesh chicken wire around a long tube feeder with cuts in the mesh to allow access for small songbirds while keeping starlings out.
  • Consider investing in starling-proof bird feeders specifically designed to exclude starlings while allowing access for other bird species.

What are some options for starling-proof bird feeders?

There are a few starling-proof bird feeders you can consider:

  • Squirrel buster feeders: These close feeder holes on heavier animals, preventing starlings from accessing the food. However, starlings may eventually figure it out.
  • Cage feeders with smaller openings: These feeders have openings too small for starlings to enter but still allow access for smaller birds. However, they may also prevent larger feeder birds like cardinals from accessing the feeder.
  • Upside-down feeders: These feeders position the suet cake or other favorite food upside down, making it difficult for starlings to feed while allowing access for smaller birds.

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Why are European starlings universally hated and considered a nuisance?

European starlings are disliked and considered a nuisance due to several reasons:

  • They often invade in large flocks, which can be overwhelming for other bird species and take over bird feeders.
  • Starlings can consume substantial amounts of bird food, leaving less for smaller bird species.
  • They are known to interfere with backyard bird feeders, making it difficult for other species to access food and water sources.
  • Starlings are opportunistic feeders and tend to start feeding later and stop earlier than other birds, monopolizing feeding times.

What are some measures to get rid of starlings without denying them food entirely?

If you prefer not to deny starlings access to food, consider these measures:

  • Feed the other birds early in the morning and near dusk when starlings are less active, ensuring a fair share for all species.
  • Use mesh cages with smaller grids or adjustable sizes to allow access for smaller birds while making it more challenging for starlings to dominate.
  • Invest in an enclosed mealworm feeder with slightly bent entrance holes to make it more difficult for starlings to access the food.
  • Scatter fat balls in more covered areas to attract smaller birds while starlings focus on the main feeders.
  • Consider using a cylinder of narrow mesh chicken wire around a long tube feeder with cuts in the mesh to allow access for small songbirds while excluding starlings.
  • Ensure there are alternative food sources available for starlings, such as providing them with some food they can access while favoring smaller bird species at the same time.

How can I prevent starlings from accessing suet pellets and mealworms while leaving them available for the resident blue tits?

To provide suet pellets and mealworms for blue tits without starlings robbing them all, you can try the following:

  • Use a proprietary feeder with a protective cage designed specifically to exclude larger birds like starlings.
  • Look for a plastic feeder with an adjustable umbrella-type cover to shield the food from starlings.
  • Consider getting an enclosed mealworm feeder with entrance holes that can be adjusted or slightly bent to prevent starling access.
  • Experiment with different feeder designs or brands to find one that effectively keeps starlings away.
  • Explore temporary solutions like manually deterring starlings by scare tactics or physical barriers until you find a long-term solution.
  • Consult birdfeeding experts or visit birding forums for additional suggestions tailored to your specific situation.

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.