How To Discourage Starlings From Bird Feeders

How To Discourage Starlings From Bird Feeders

Starlings can be a common problem for bird feeders, as they are known to dominate feeders, scare away other bird species, and consume large quantities of birdseed. To maintain a diverse and balanced bird population at your feeders, it is important to understand starlings and why discouraging them is necessary.
This article will provide tips and measures to discourage starlings from bird feeders.
First, let’s delve into the negative impacts of starlings at bird feeders. Starlings often monopolize food sources, leaving little for other birds and creating an unbalanced ecosystem. They can also be aggressive towards smaller bird species, causing them distress or driving them away from the feeding area. Understanding these negative impacts highlights the importance of addressing the starling issue.
To discourage starlings from bird feeders, several strategies can be employed. Adjusting the feeder design and placement can make it difficult for starlings to access the food while allowing other bird species to feed comfortably. Implementing starling-resistant feeders, such as those with smaller openings or weight-sensitive perches, can further deter starlings. Varying the types of bird food offered can also discourage starlings, as they may have preferences for certain food types. Creating physical barriers, such as cages or baffles, can prevent larger birds like starlings from accessing the feeder. using visual and auditory deterrents, such as mirrors, reflective tape, or decoy predators, can help deter starlings. Attracting other bird species to your yard with appropriate food and shelter can divert starlings‘ attention away from the feeders.
Maintaining a clean feeding area is essential to discourage starlings, as they are attracted to spilled seed and debris. Establishing a feeding schedule can help reduce the amount of excess food left out, minimizing starling attraction. Collaborating with local birding communities can provide valuable insights and support in dealing with the starling issue.
By implementing these measures and adopting a proactive approach, you can effectively discourage starlings from bird feeders, create a diverse bird population, and enhance the overall experience of backyard birdwatching.

Key takeaway:

  • Adjust Bird Feeder Design and Placement: Modifying the design and placement of bird feeders can discourage starlings from accessing them, reducing their negative impacts on other bird species.
  • Implement Starling-Resistant Bird Feeders: Investing in bird feeders specifically designed to deter starlings can help maintain a more diverse bird population at your feeders.
  • Use Different Types of Bird Food: Varying the types of bird food can attract other bird species while discouraging starlings, ensuring a more balanced ecosystem around your feeders.

Understanding Starlings and Bird Feeders

Understanding starlings and bird feeders can help in finding effective strategies to discourage them. Starlings, known for their black feathers with iridescent speckles and their ability to mimic other bird songs, are a common bird species that may frequent bird feeders. They travel in large flocks and are highly adaptable to various environments. Bird feeders offer a source of food and attract a variety of bird species, including starlings. Different types of bird feeders, such as tube feeders or suet feeders, may attract starlings due to their ability to access the food easily. However, starlings are known to outcompete other bird species for food at feeders, which can lead to a decrease in diversity. They prefer high energy content food, such as suet, fruits, and seeds. To reduce their attraction to the feeder, it is recommended to use feeders with food that is less appealing to starlings, such as safflower seeds or nyjer. Additionally, utilizing bird feeders with mechanisms designed to deter larger birds like starlings, such as weight-sensitive perches or cages, can limit their access while allowing smaller birds to feed undisturbed. Understanding starlings and their behavior at bird feeders is essential for implementing effective strategies to discourage them. By making adjustments to the feeder design and food types, a more diverse and welcoming environment for a variety of bird species can be created.

Why Discourage Starlings from Bird Feeders?

Starlings can be a nuisance at bird feeders. So, why discourage starlings from bird feeders? Well, there are several important reasons to consider. First and foremost, starlings are aggressive birds that have the ability to dominate and intimidate other birds, effectively preventing them from accessing the feeders. As a result, the presence of starlings can lead to a decrease in the diversity of bird species visiting the feeders.

Moreover, starlings have a voracious appetite and can consume large quantities of bird seed, leaving less food available for other desirable bird species. This not only results in a waste of resources but also leads to increased costs for bird feeder owners. Furthermore, starlings are notorious for creating a mess around bird feeders with their droppings, negatively impacting the cleanliness and hygiene of the feeding area.

By discouraging starlings from bird feeders, bird enthusiasts can create a more inviting environment for a wider variety of bird species. Additionally, this practice promotes the efficient use of resources and helps to maintain a cleaner feeding area, ensuring a healthier habitat for all birds.

It’s interesting to note that back in the early 19th century, starlings were introduced to North America with good intentions. However, this well-meaning act resulted in an unintended consequence. The population of starlings increased significantly, making them invasive pests. Today, efforts are being made to discourage starlings from bird feeders in order to protect the native bird species and maintain a balanced ecosystem.

What Are the Negative Impacts of Starlings at Bird Feeders?

The negative impacts of starlings at bird feeders include:

  • Food competition: Starlings are aggressive birds that compete with other bird species for food at the feeders. They can consume large quantities of bird food, leaving little for other birds.
  • Seed wastage: Starlings have a habit of flinging and scattering bird seeds from feeders, causing unnecessary waste and mess.
  • Noise and disturbance: Starlings are known for their loud and disruptive behavior, which can disturb other birds and disrupt the peaceful environment around the feeders.
  • Bullying and exclusion: Starlings often flock together and dominate the feeders, intimidating smaller bird species and preventing them from accessing the food.
  • Spread of diseases: Starlings can carry and transmit diseases to other bird species at the feeders, posing a health risk to the entire bird community.
  • Habitat disruption: The presence of starlings can discourage other desirable bird species from visiting the feeders, leading to a decline in biodiversity and limiting the overall enjoyment of bird watching.

By understanding these negative impacts, bird enthusiasts can take appropriate measures to deter starlings and create a more welcoming and harmonious environment for a wider variety of bird species at the feeders.

Tips to Discourage Starlings from Bird Feeders

Tired of pesky starlings taking over your bird feeders? Get ready to reclaim your feathered friends’ territory with these effective tips. We’ll explore ingenious ways to deter starlings, from adjusting feeder design and placement, to using starling-resistant feeders. Discover the power of different bird food types and how they can deter starlings. We’ll even dive into the realm of physical barriers, visual, and auditory deterrents, while attracting other delightful bird species to your garden. Say farewell to starling feuds and hello to a harmonious bird-watching haven!

1. Adjust Bird Feeder Design and Placement

To effectively adjust the design and placement of bird feeders, follow these steps:

  • Elevate the bird feeder: Place the bird feeder on a pole or hang it from a high location, such as a tree limb, to make it more challenging for starlings to access and deter them from reaching the food.
  • Use a squirrel guard: Install a squirrel guard or baffle on the pole or hanging mechanism of the bird feeder to effectively prevent starlings and other large birds from reaching the food.
  • Choose a small mesh size: Opt for bird feeders with small mesh sizes that only allow small birds to access the food. This will discourage starlings from visiting the feeder and encourage smaller bird species instead.
  • Consider tube feeders: Tube feeders with perches that are too small for starlings can effectively deter them. Starlings typically prefer feeders with large trays or platforms.
  • Position away from hiding spots: Place the bird feeder away from dense vegetation or areas where starlings can hide and observe the feeder. This reduces their ability to quickly access the food and discourages their presence.
  • Ensure open surroundings: Clear any overhanging branches or objects that could provide starlings with a launching point to reach the feeder. By creating open surroundings, you make it more difficult for starlings to reach the food.

By adjusting the design and placement of bird feeders, you can effectively discourage starlings and create a feeding environment that attracts smaller bird species instead.

2. Implement Starling-Resistant Bird Feeders

  1. Implement Starling-Resistant Bird Feeders: Implementing starling-resistant bird feeders can be an effective way to discourage starlings from bird feeders. Here are some steps to consider:
  2. Choose a feeder with smaller openings: Opt for feeders with smaller openings that are designed to prevent starlings from accessing the bird food. These feeders are usually designed with adjustable perches or cage-like structures, allowing smaller birds to easily access the food while keeping starlings out.
  3. Install weight-sensitive or collapsible perches: Some bird feeders are equipped with perches that collapse or become restricted under the weight of larger birds like starlings. This mechanism prevents starlings from comfortably perching on the feeder, encouraging them to move on.
  4. Use baffles or domes: Install baffles or domes above or below the feeder to create physical barriers that make it difficult for starlings to access the food. These barriers can be designed in a way that allows smaller birds to easily navigate them while deterring starlings.
  5. Position feeders strategically: Place the feeders in areas that are less accessible to starlings. Consider hanging them near tree branches, under eaves, or close to shrubs, as these locations can make it harder for starlings to approach the feeder.
  6. Regularly clean and maintain feeders: Proper maintenance of your feeders is important to prevent the buildup of food waste and debris, which can attract starlings. Regularly clean and disinfect the feeders to discourage their presence.

By implementing starling-resistant bird feeders and following these steps, you can minimize the presence of starlings and provide a more welcoming feeding environment for other bird species.

3. Use Different Types of Bird Food

When it comes to discouraging starlings from bird feeders, one effective strategy is to use different types of bird food. By offering a variety of food options, you can attract specific bird species while simultaneously making it less appealing for starlings to feed.

  • Seeds: One option is to provide seeds that are less attractive to starlings. To discourage starlings, avoid using sunflower seeds, cracked corn, or millet, as these are their favorites. Instead, choose seeds like nyjer (thistle), safflower, or canary seed, which are less appealing to starlings but still attract other desirable birds.
  • Suet: Starlings are less likely to be interested in suet, especially if it contains ingredients that they don’t prefer, such as hot pepper or spicy flavors. Look for suet cakes specifically designed to deter starlings.
  • Fruit and mealworms: Many bird species, including robins and bluebirds, are attracted to fruit and mealworms. By offering these food options, you can entice these birds while discouraging starlings.
  • Nectar: If you have hummingbird feeders, make sure the nectar is only accessible to hummingbirds. Starlings are not equipped to reach the small openings that hummingbird feeders typically have.

Remember, the key is to provide a variety of food that appeals to the birds you want to attract while making it less appealing for starlings. By using different types of bird food, you can increase your chances of creating a bird-friendly environment that starlings are less likely to dominate.

4. Create Physical Barriers

  1. Creating physical barriers around your bird feeder, such as installing a cage or mesh, can be an effective solution to discourage starlings from accessing it. This will allow smaller birds to feed while preventing larger birds like starlings.
  2. Another option is to use a weight-activated perching mechanism that closes off access to the feeder when heavier birds like starlings land on it. This mechanism effectively deters them from feeding.
  3. To prevent both squirrels and starlings from reaching the feeder, you can install a squirrel baffle. Starlings are attracted to feeders that squirrels can access, so using a baffle will help keep them away.
  4. Elevating the feeder by mounting it on a pole or hanging it from a higher branch can make it difficult for starlings to reach. They tend to prefer feeders at lower heights, so raising it can deter them.
  5. A selective feeding system can also be beneficial. These bird feeders only allow access to specific types of birds based on their weight or size. By excluding starlings, they can still attract other desired bird species.
  6. Creating distinct feeding areas for different bird species can discourage starlings from dominating the feeder. Placing feeders in different locations or using divider systems can help achieve this.

By implementing these physical barriers, you can greatly reduce the presence of starlings at your bird feeders and create a more welcoming environment for other bird species to enjoy.

5. Employ Visual and Auditory Deterrents

  • Employ visual and auditory deterrents to discourage starlings from approaching bird feeders.
  • Hang reflective objects like hanging CDs or aluminum foil strips near the feeders to create visual disturbances.
  • Place wind chimes or bells close to the bird feeders to disrupt starlings with the sound they produce.
  • Use predator decoys, such as fake owls or hawks, to create the impression of danger.
  • Play recordings of predator calls or distress calls of other bird species to reinforce the visual deterrents.
  • Utilize scarecrow-like models or balloons with large, intimidating eyes painted on them.

6. Attract Other Bird Species

  1. To attract a diverse range of bird species, vary the types of bird food you offer. Different birds have different dietary preferences, so providing a variety of options will increase the chances of attracting a wide array of species. Offer seeds, nuts, fruits, and suet to cater to different birds’ tastes.
  2. Hang bird feeders at different heights and in different locations to accommodate various bird species. Some birds prefer to feed at ground level, while others prefer elevated feeders. By providing options at different heights, you can attract a greater diversity of birds.
  3. Plant native trees, shrubs, and flowers that produce fruits, seeds, or nectar. These natural food sources will attract other bird species to your yard, creating an inviting environment for a variety of species.
  4. Install birdhouses or nesting boxes to provide shelter and breeding opportunities for various bird species. Different birds have specific preferences for their nesting habits, so offering a variety of options will encourage a wider range of birds to visit your yard.
  5. Provide a water source, such as a birdbath or small pond, to attract birds that rely on water for drinking and bathing. Fresh, clean water will be particularly appealing to many bird species.

Attracting other bird species to your yard will not only diversify the wildlife you observe but also contribute to the overall ecological balance. By creating a welcoming habitat that meets the needs of various bird species, you can enjoy a greater variety of birds in your surroundings.

Additional Measures to Discourage Starlings

When it comes to keeping pesky starlings away from our bird feeders, sometimes the usual measures just aren’t enough. That’s why we need to explore additional tactics that can effectively discourage these feathered invaders. In this section, we’ll dive into some creative and practical solutions that go beyond the typical strategies. From maintaining a clean feeding area to establishing a feeding schedule and even collaborating with local birding communities, we’ll discover new ways to protect our feeders and ensure our feathered friends have a chance to enjoy their meals undisturbed.

1. Maintain a Clean Feeding Area

To ensure a clean feeding area and deter starlings from bird feeders, it is important to follow these guidelines:

  1. Consistently tidy the feeding area: Eliminate any spilled seeds, empty husks, and bird droppings from the ground below the feeder. This will prevent the buildup of debris and make the area less appealing to starlings.

  2. Utilize a bird feeder with a tray or catch basin: This will aid in collecting fallen seeds, simplifying the cleaning process and preventing the accumulation of debris.

  3. Avoid using feeders with large openings or platforms: These types of feeders can easily become messy and attract starlings. Instead, opt for feeders with smaller openings or specialized designs that only allow access to smaller birds.

  4. Regularly clean the feeders: Empty any remaining seeds, wash the feeder using warm soapy water, and thoroughly scrub off any residue or mold. Rinse it well and allow it to completely dry before refilling.

  5. Rotate or relocate the feeder: Starlings are intelligent creatures and quickly catch on to patterns. By periodically changing the location or position of the feeder, you can confuse starlings and discourage them from visiting frequently.

  6. Provide limited quantities of food: Only put out enough food for the birds to consume in a day. This will minimize leftovers and reduce the amount of waste that might attract starlings.

  7. Properly store birdseed: Seal birdseed in containers to prevent moisture and pests, which can attract starlings to the storage area.

By maintaining a clean feeding area, you can discourage starlings from congregating at bird feeders and create a more welcoming environment for other bird species.

2. Establish a Feeding Schedule

To discourage starlings from bird feeders, it is important to establish a feeding schedule. Follow these steps:

  1. Set a consistent feeding time, preferably in the morning or early evening when other birds are more active. Regularly fill the bird feeders at the same time each day.
  2. Provide bird food in small quantities that the local bird population can consume within a few hours. Avoid leaving out food for prolonged periods.
  3. After a specified amount of time, remove any remaining food from the feeders. This will discourage starlings from relying on the feeders as their primary food source.
  4. Be consistent with your routine. Birds, including starlings, are creatures of habit and will become accustomed to feeding at certain times. This consistency will help discourage starlings from visiting your feeders.
  5. Consider using automated feeders that can be programmed to dispense food at specific times. This minimizes the chances of starlings monopolizing the feeders.

By establishing and sticking to a feeding schedule, you can reduce the likelihood of starlings dominating your bird feeders and encourage a more diverse range of bird species to visit.

3. Work with Local Birding Communities

To effectively discourage starlings from bird feeders, consider working with local birding communities. Here are ways to collaborate:

  1. Join birding clubs or organizations in your area. These groups often have experienced members who have dealt with starling issues and can provide valuable advice and insights. By working with local birding communities, you can effectively work on reducing starling problems.
  2. Participate in bird counts or surveys organized by local birding communities. These events help gather scientific data about bird populations and behavior, including starlings. By actively taking part and sharing your observations, you can contribute to a better understanding of starlings’ impact and effective ways of discouraging them.
  3. Engage in community initiatives to raise awareness about starling problems. This can involve organizing workshops, talks, or educational programs in collaboration with local birding communities. By sharing knowledge and strategies, you can help more people effectively discourage starlings from bird feeders and create a healthier ecosystem for all bird species.
  4. Collaborate on research projects focused on starling behavior and control methods. By working with local birding communities, you can contribute to ongoing efforts to develop effective and humane strategies for dealing with starlings. This collaboration can lead to better outcomes in managing starling populations and minimizing their impact on bird feeders.

Pro-tip: Building strong relationships with local birding communities can foster a sense of community and shared responsibility in managing starling populations. Together, you can make a bigger impact in discouraging starlings from bird feeders and promoting a healthier ecosystem for all bird species.

Some Facts About How To Discourage Starlings From Bird Feeders:

  • ✅ Starlings are known to invade bird feeders in large flocks and disrupt feeding for other birds. (Source:
  • ✅ The use of starling-proof feeders, such as squirrel buster feeders, can deter starlings from accessing the bird feeders. (Source:
  • ✅ Cage feeders with small openings can prevent starlings from getting to the bird feeders while allowing smaller birds to access the food. (Source:
  • ✅ Upside-down feeders, like the Audubon bottom feeder, can be effective for suet feeders as starlings and grackles dislike this feeding style. (Source:
  • ✅ Despite efforts to discourage starlings, they can be clever and may eventually find ways to access bird feeders. (Source:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I discourage starlings from my bird feeders?

There are several methods you can try to discourage starlings from your bird feeders:

  • Use starling-proof bird feeders that close the feeder holes on heavier animals.
  • Try using a cage feeder with small openings to prevent starlings from fitting through.
  • Consider using an upside-down feeder for suet, which starlings and grackles do not like.
  • Experiment with mesh cages or adjustable mesh size to restrict starlings’ access to food.
  • Scatter a few fat balls near more cover to attract smaller birds while starlings focus on main feeders.
  • Try a cylinder of narrow mesh chicken wire around a long tube feeder with small cuts for smaller birds.

2. Are there any specific feeder types that can help deter starlings?

Yes, there are feeder types designed to deter starlings:

  • Starling-proof bird feeders like the squirrel buster that close feeder holes on heavier animals.
  • Cage feeders with small openings to keep out starlings but may also exclude larger feeder birds.
  • Upside-down feeders, such as the Audubon bottom feeder, for suet, disliked by starlings and grackles.
  • Enclosed mealworm feeders can be effective at preventing starlings from accessing the food.

3. How can I provide food for smaller birds without denying starlings access?

You can provide food for smaller birds while still allowing starlings some access:

  • Feed other birds early in the morning and near dusk when starlings are less active.
  • Scatter a few fat balls near more cover to attract smaller birds while starlings focus on main feeders.
  • Consider using mesh cages or adjustable mesh sizes to restrict starlings’ access to the food.
  • Experiment with enclosed mealworm feeders and make slight adjustments to prevent starlings’ entry.
  • Try cylinder-shaped feeders with narrow mesh chicken wire and small cuts for smaller birds.

4. What are some other tactics to discourage starlings from bird feeders?

Here are a few more tactics you can try to discourage starlings from bird feeders:

  • Scaring away starlings through trial and error with different methods or decorations.
  • Implementing seasonal tactics based on the behavior and movements of starlings.
  • Providing nesting options to encourage starlings to nest elsewhere and minimize their presence.
  • Attracting other species like blue jays or native birds that may compete with starlings for food.
  • Removing other food sources around your feeding station that may attract starlings.

5. Can cookies and similar technologies be used to deter starlings from bird feeders?

No, cookies and similar technologies, like those used on Reddit, are not effective for deterring starlings from bird feeders. Cookies are specific to online browsing and data storage, while starlings are physical birds.

6. Are there any bird feeders that specifically target starlings?

There are bird feeders available, such as starling-proof bird feeders, that aim to deter starlings and allow access to other feeder birds. These feeders often use mechanisms to close feeder holes on heavier animals like 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.