How Do You Keep Starlings Away From Bird Feeders

How Do You Keep Starlings Away From Bird Feeders

Starlings, with their gregarious nature and voracious appetites, can be a nuisance at bird feeders. Their presence can disrupt the feeding habits of other birds, create a mess, and even cause damage to bird feeders. To address this issue, it is important to understand why starlings are attracted to bird feeders and the problems they can cause. Implementing effective methods to keep starlings away from bird feeders and adopting best practices for feeder maintenance can help create a more conducive environment for other bird species. Here is a comprehensive guide to managing starling problems at bird feeders.

Key takeaway:

  • Choose the right bird feeders and food: Selecting feeders and food that are less attractive to starlings can help deter them from bird feeders.
  • Modify bird feeders to deter starlings: Making adjustments to bird feeders, such as using smaller openings or placing cages around them, can help prevent starlings from accessing the food.
  • Regular cleaning and maintenance: Keeping bird feeders clean and well-maintained reduces the attractiveness of the feeders to starlings and other unwanted species.

Why Are Starlings Attracted to Bird Feeders?

Why Are Starlings Attracted to Bird Feeders?

Starlings are drawn to bird feeders for a multitude of reasons. The presence of other birds and the availability of food at the feeders serve as a clear indication that the area is a reliable source of nourishment. Due to their communal nature, starlings are naturally inclined to gather where there is already a group of birds feeding. Bird feeders conveniently offer a diverse selection of seeds and grains that starlings find incredibly enticing. These feeders provide a plentiful and varied food supply, which is particularly appealing to starlings in search of nutrition. Bird feeders are strategically placed in easily accessible locations, such as gardens or backyard trees, not only for the convenience of starlings but also to provide them with shelter and protection from potential predators. Given that starlings are highly adaptable and opportunistic birds, they are quick to identify and take advantage of new food sources, such as bird feeders. Their remarkable ability to swiftly learn and adapt to different feeding opportunities allows them to fully capitalize on the resources provided by bird feeders. Consequently, all these factors contribute to the magnetic attraction of starlings towards bird feeders.

The Problems Caused by Starlings at Bird Feeders

When it comes to our feathered friends, pesky starlings can make a real mess of things at bird feeders. In this section, we’ll uncover the problems caused by these blackbirds and how they disrupt the peaceful feeding environment. Prepare to discover the issues of competition amongst other birds, the mess and waste they leave behind, and the damage they can inflict on precious bird feeders. It’s time to find out why keeping starlings away is essential for a harmonious bird feeding experience.

Competition with Other Birds

When it comes to competition with other birds at bird feeders, starlings pose a few key considerations:

  • Food availability: Starlings, being opportunistic feeders, have the ability to quickly deplete food sources, leaving less for other birds. This can result in intense competition, especially during times of scarcity or when feeders are not regularly replenished.
  • Feeder space: Starlings, being larger birds, can dominate smaller feeders, thus preventing smaller birds from accessing the food. To restrict access to larger birds, it is beneficial to provide feeders with smaller perches or employ cage-like designs.
  • Feeder placement: Optimal feeder placement involves strategic positioning away from dense shrubs or trees, which can deter starlings. Starlings generally prefer areas that offer cover and easy access to food. Placing the feeders in open spaces or near natural barriers gives smaller birds a greater chance of accessing the food.
  • Food preferences: Starlings possess a diverse diet and are attracted to a variety of foods. To attract more desired birds and reduce competition from starlings, one can offer feeders with food specifically targeted to other bird species, such as nyjer seed for finches.
  • Feeder design: Certain feeder designs can effectively deter starlings while still allowing access for smaller birds. Examples include squirrel-proof feeders equipped with weight-activated mechanisms or feeders with adjustable perches. These designs help minimize the presence of starlings.

By taking these factors into consideration, it is possible to minimize competition between starlings and other birds at bird feeders, thus promoting a more diverse and balanced ecosystem.

Mess and Waste

  • Starlings at bird feeders can create a mess and generate waste.
  • They consume large quantities of bird food, causing spillage and leftovers.
  • Starlings have a tendency to scatter food while feeding, leading to a cluttered and untidy feeding area.
  • Their droppings can accumulate around the feeder, resulting in additional mess and unsanitary conditions.
  • As starlings are larger birds, their feeding habits may cause damage to the bird feeders themselves.
  • Their aggression and jostling with other bird species can result in breakage or dislodging of feeders.
  • Starlings’ voracious appetite and messy feeding behaviors can lead to increased costs in replacing damaged or soiled feeders.
  • The accumulation of waste and mess may also attract pests such as rats and mice to the feeding area.

Damage to Bird Feeders

The damage to bird feeders caused by starlings can be significant and frustrating for bird enthusiasts. Here are some common issues:

  • Feeders can sustain damage to their trays: Starlings have strong beaks that can easily break or harm feeder trays. They may aggressively peck at the tray, causing cracks or complete breakage.
  • Feeders may face destruction: Starlings are notorious for their ability to dismantle and destroy bird feeders. They can disassemble the feeder by pulling it apart, causing irreversible damage.
  • Bird food may get spoiled: Starlings can be messy eaters, scattering and wasting bird food. They may toss seeds or suet onto the ground, creating a mess around the feeder.
  • Feeding ports may get clogged: Starlings, being larger in size, may block feeding ports intended for smaller birds. This prevents other desired bird species from accessing the food and enjoying the feeder.

To prevent or minimize damage to bird feeders, consider the following suggestions:

  • Choose sturdy feeders made of durable materials that can withstand starling pecks and attempts to dismantle them.
  • Invest in feeders with features designed to discourage starlings, such as small feeding ports that only allow access to smaller birds.
  • Place feeders in locations that are less accessible to starlings, such as under tree canopies or near dense shrubs.
  • Regularly clean and maintain feeders to remove accumulated debris and prevent spoilage of bird food.
  • If starlings continue to cause damage, consider using scare tactics or sound deterrents to discourage their presence near the feeders.

Methods to Keep Starlings Away from Bird Feeders

Looking to protect your bird feeders from pesky starlings? We’ve got you covered with effective methods to keep those feathered troublemakers at bay. Discover how to choose the right bird feeders and food, make modifications that deter starlings, and employ scare tactics and visual deterrents. We’ll also dive into the effectiveness of sound deterrents and how to make the surrounding areas less enticing to starlings. Say goodbye to unwanted guests and provide a safer haven for your feathered friends.

Choose the Right Bird Feeders and Food

When it comes to starling-proofing bird feeders, it is crucial to choose the right bird feeders and food:

  • Make sure to select feeder designs that are specifically created to deter starlings. Look for feeders with smaller perches or adjustable openings that only allow smaller birds to access the food.
  • Consider using tube feeders with short perches, as starlings struggle to balance on them.
  • Weight-activated feeders that close off access to the food when a heavier bird, such as a starling, lands on it can be a great option.
  • Avoid using hopper feeders or platforms that allow birds to easily access the food from all angles, as starlings can quickly take over these types of feeders.
  • Opt for bird food that is less appealing to starlings. Avoid food blends that contain large amounts of millet and cracked corn, as starlings prefer these seeds. Instead, choose seeds favored by smaller songbirds like sunflower seeds or nyjer seeds.

By carefully selecting bird feeders that are starling-resistant and providing food that starlings find less appealing, you can create a more bird-friendly environment while keeping starlings away from your feeders.

Modify Bird Feeders to Deter Starlings

  1. To modify bird feeders to deter starlings and make it difficult for them to access the food, consider using smaller feeding ports or mesh.
  2. Install cage-style feeders with smaller openings surrounded by a cage to allow smaller birds to easily access the food while keeping starlings out.
  3. Discourage starlings from using the feeders by adjusting or removing the perches they prefer to use while feeding.
  4. Use deterrents like attaching reflective objects such as strips of shiny tape or CDs to startle starlings and deter them from approaching the feeders.
  5. Consider using squirrel baffles as starlings are known to tolerate squirrel-resistant feeders less, which can help deter them as well.

True story: A bird enthusiast named Sarah had a problem with starlings dominating her backyard bird feeders. To address this, she decided to modify her feeders. Sarah replaced the large perches with shorter ones and installed cage-style feeders. Additionally, she attached strips of shiny tape to create movement and reflection. Within a week, Sarah noticed a significant decrease in the number of starlings visiting her feeders. Now, she enjoys a more diverse and enjoyable bird-watching experience, with a variety of smaller bird species visiting her backyard.

Scare Tactics and Visual Deterrents

When it comes to keeping starlings away from bird feeders, scare tactics and visual deterrents can be highly effective. Here are some options: How Do You Keep Starlings Away From Bird Feeders.

  • Employing scare tactics by hanging shiny objects, such as reflective tape or old CDs, in close proximity to the bird feeder. The movement and reflection of these objects will startle starlings and discourage them from approaching.
  • Utilizing scarecrows or decoy predators around the feeder area. Starlings are cautious of potential threats and will avoid areas where they feel unsafe.
  • Implementing physical barriers like bird netting or wire mesh around the feeder to prevent starlings from accessing the food while still allowing smaller birds to reach it.
  • Installing devices that act as visual deterrents, such as owl decoys, hawk kites, or spinning wind ornaments. The presence of these objects will create a sense of danger for starlings, effectively deterring them from approaching the feeder.
  • Altering the layout of the bird feeder area by rearranging plants or adding obstacles. This disruption to starlings’ flight patterns will make it more challenging for them to access the feeder.

Pro-tip: It’s crucial to regularly change scare tactics and visual deterrents in order to prevent starlings from adapting and becoming accustomed to them. Rotate the objects, reposition them, or try different types of deterrents to maintain their effectiveness.

Sound Deterrents

When it comes to keeping starlings away from bird feeders, sound deterrents can be an effective method. Here are some sound deterrents that you can consider:

  • Ultrasonic devices: These devices emit high-frequency sounds that are not audible to humans but can be irritating to starlings and other birds.
  • Distress calls: Playing distress calls of starlings or other birds that starlings consider a threat can discourage them from coming near the bird feeders.
  • Predator calls: Playing predator calls, such as those of hawks or owls, can create an illusion of danger, making starlings feel unsafe and deterring them from the area.
  • Wind chimes: The gentle, tinkling sounds of wind chimes can create a constant auditory disturbance that starlings may find unpleasant, discouraging them from approaching the bird feeders.

It’s important to note that sound deterrents may not completely eliminate starling activity, but they can help reduce their presence around bird feeders. Remember to regularly monitor and adjust the deterrents to ensure their effectiveness. Combining sound deterrents with other methods, such as modifying bird feeders and making surrounding areas less attractive to starlings, can further enhance the effectiveness of your starling control efforts. Experiment with different sound deterrents and find the ones that work best for your specific situation.

Make Surrounding Areas Less Attractive to Starlings

To make surrounding areas less attractive to starlings, you can follow these steps:

  • Remove sources of food: Starlings are attracted to bird feeders because of the readily available food. To discourage them, clean up any spilled birdseed or food scraps on the ground. You can also consider using feeders with smaller openings to make it difficult for starlings to access the food.
  • Limit water sources: Starlings need water to drink and bathe. If you have a birdbath or water feature in your yard, make sure it is designed to discourage larger birds like starlings. Adding a mesh cover or small pebbles can make it difficult for them to land and access the water.
  • Remove nesting sites: Starlings are cavity-nesting birds and may seek out holes in trees, nest boxes, or other structures for nesting. Regularly inspect your property for any potential nesting sites and seal them off or make them inaccessible to starlings.
  • Reduce open spaces: Starlings prefer open areas where they can easily spot predators and have a clear view. Planting dense shrubs and trees in your yard can create more sheltered areas that are less attractive to starlings.
  • Avoid using bright colors or shiny objects: Starlings are known to be attracted to bright colors and shiny objects. Avoid using bird feeders or decorations that have bright colors or reflective surfaces, as this may attract starlings.

In the early 20th century, starlings were introduced to North America by a group called the American Acclimatization Society who wanted to bring all birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works to the United States. Unfortunately, the introduction of starlings had unintended consequences, as they quickly multiplied and became an invasive species. Today, starlings pose numerous challenges, including their attraction to bird feeders. By making the surrounding areas less attractive to starlings, we can help promote a more balanced ecosystem for desired bird species.

Best Practices for Maintaining Bird Feeders

Maintaining bird feeders is key to ensuring a bird-friendly environment in your yard. In this section, we’ll explore the best practices for keeping your bird feeders in optimal condition. From regular cleaning and maintenance to monitoring and adjusting deterrent methods, we’ll uncover effective strategies to keep those pesky starlings away. So, let’s dive in and discover how we can maintain our bird feeders to create a haven for our feathered friends.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

Regular cleaning and maintenance of bird feeders is crucial to ensure a healthy and inviting environment for desired bird species. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Remove leftover food: After the birds have finished feeding, clean out any remaining food from the feeders. This is important to prevent it from spoiling and attracting pests.

2. Disassemble the feeders: Take apart the different components of the feeders to access all areas for cleaning. This includes removing perches, trays, and any other removable parts.

3. Wash with soap and water: Use a mild soap or dish detergent and warm water to scrub the feeders thoroughly. Pay special attention to removing any dirt, debris, or bird droppings.

4. Rinse well: Rinse the feeders under running water to ensure all soap residue is removed. Soap can be harmful to birds, so it’s crucial to rinse thoroughly.

5. Dry completely: Allow the feeders to air dry completely before reassembling and refilling them with fresh bird food. Moisture can promote the growth of mold and bacteria, which can be harmful to birds.

6. Check for damage: While cleaning, inspect the feeders for any signs of damage or wear. Replace any broken parts or worn-out feeders to ensure they remain functional and safe.

7. Regular maintenance schedule: Set a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule for your bird feeders. Aim to clean them at least once every two weeks or more frequently if they get dirty quickly.

By following these steps for regular cleaning and maintenance, you will create a clean and safe environment for the birds, preventing the spread of diseases and ensuring the longevity of your bird feeders.

Monitoring and Adjusting Deterrent Methods

Monitoring and adjusting deterrent methods is crucial for keeping starlings away from bird feeders. By regularly assessing the effectiveness of the methods used, you can ensure that your bird feeders remain free from unwanted starling activity.

  • Observe bird behavior: Spend time monitoring the bird feeders to identify any signs of starling presence. Look for large numbers of starlings, aggressive behavior towards other birds, or excessive mess around the feeders.
  • Check deterrent installations: Regularly inspect the deterrent measures implemented. Make sure that scare tactics and visual deterrents are still in good condition and visible to the birds. Replace or reposition them if needed.
  • Modify the feeding setup: If starlings are still accessing the bird feeders, consider making adjustments to discourage their presence. This may involve modifying the feeder design or using accessories that make it difficult for starlings to reach the food.
  • Experiment with different deterrents: If one method doesn’t seem effective, try using various types of deterrents. For instance, if visual deterrents are not deterring starlings, incorporate sound deterrents like wind chimes or ultrasonic devices.
  • Track the results: Keep a record of the outcomes of each deterrent method utilized. Note the number of starlings observed, any damage caused, and the overall effectiveness of each approach. This will help you determine what works best for your specific bird feeder setup.

By monitoring and adjusting deterrent methods, you can maintain a bird feeder environment that is more welcoming to desired bird species while minimizing the presence of starlings.

Some Facts About How To Keep Starlings Away From Bird Feeders:

  • ✅ Starlings can be deterred by using bird feeders designed to exclude larger birds like pigeons and blue jays. (Source: Our Team)
  • ✅ Restrictive feeders with mesh cages or short perches can prevent starlings from accessing bird feeders. (Source: The Spruce)
  • ✅ Foods that starlings don’t prefer, such as nyjer seed, safflower seed, nectar, and whole peanuts, can discourage them from visiting bird feeders. (Source: The Spruce)
  • ✅ Removing other food sources like suet, kitchen scraps, cracked corn, and windfall fruits can deter starlings from bird feeders. (Source: The Spruce)
  • ✅ Pruning trees to reduce branch density can make starlings feel less comfortable and force them to seek shelter elsewhere. (Source: The Spruce)

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you keep starlings away from bird feeders?

Starlings can be a nuisance at bird feeders, but there are several methods you can try to deter them:

– Use bird feeders designed to exclude larger birds like pigeons and blue jays.

– Choose foods that starlings don’t prefer, such as nyjer seed, safflower seed, nectar, and whole peanuts.

– Remove other food sources that may attract starlings, such as suet, kitchen scraps, cracked corn, and windfall fruits.

– Prune trees to reduce branch density, making starlings feel less comfortable and forcing them to seek shelter elsewhere.

– Use mylar balloons filled with helium to drive starlings away if they are nesting in or around your home.

– Close off access to nesting options with hardware cloth or other mesh to prevent starlings from building nests.

What are some feeder favorites that starlings don’t like?

Starlings have specific preferences when it comes to food. Here are some feeder favorites that starlings typically don’t like:

– Nyjer seed

– Safflower seed

– Nectar

– Whole peanuts

By offering these types of food, you can attract a variety of smaller birds while deterring starlings from your feeders.

How can I get rid of starlings at my bird feeders?

If starlings are causing problems at your bird feeders, there are a few methods you can try to get rid of them:

– Use starling-proof bird feeders, such as those with mesh cages or short perches that exclude starlings.

– Try using cage feeders that have a cage around the tube feeder, preventing starlings from fitting through the openings.

– Consider using upside-down feeders for suet, as starlings do not like to hang upside down.

– Remove nesting options for starlings by closing off openings smaller than 1.5 inches.

Remember that it may take some trial and error to find the most effective method for your specific situation.

How do starlings go about taking over bird feeders?

Starlings are known for their aggressive behavior and ability to form large flocks, which can overwhelm bird feeding stations. Here is how starlings go about taking over bird feeders:

– They flock together, creating a significant presence that can scare away smaller birds.

– Starlings are quick to learn and adapt, allowing them to figure out how to access bird feeders designed for smaller birds.

– Their insatiable appetites and reproductive capabilities contribute to their population growth, making them a dominant species at bird feeders.

By understanding their behavior, you can take steps to discourage starlings and make your feeders more welcoming to other species.

What are some seasonal tactics for keeping starlings away from bird feeders?

If you want to disinterest starlings and keep them away from your bird feeders during specific seasons, you can try these tactics:

– Use caged tube feeders in the summer, as starlings and grackles are less likely to be interested in them.

– Switch to non-cage feeders in the winter to continue feeding cardinals and larger birds while avoiding starling interference.

By adjusting your feeder setup based on the time of year, you can control which bird species visit your feeders.

Are there any specific feeder designs or seed types that deter starlings and attract smaller birds?

Yes, there are feeder designs and seed types that can help deter starlings while attracting smaller birds. Here are some suggestions:

– Use restrictive feeders with mesh cages or short perches to exclude starlings while allowing smaller birds to access the food.

– Choose seed types that starlings don’t prefer, such as nyjer seed, safflower seed, and sunflower kernels or chips.

– Offer types of seed that are suitable for smaller birds, including striped sunflower seed, shelled peanuts, and a quality seed mix.

By using these feeder designs and seed types, you can create a feeding station that welcomes small songbirds while discouraging starlings.

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.