How To Get Starlings Away From Bird Feeder

How To Get Starlings Away From Bird Feeder

Understanding the Issue: Starlings at Bird Feeders

Bird feeders are a wonderful way to attract a variety of beautiful and colorful birds to your backyard. However, starlings can often become a nuisance at bird feeders, causing frustration for bird watchers and disrupting the feeding habits of other native bird species. Knowing the reasons behind starlings being a problem at bird feeders can help in finding effective solutions.

Why Are Starlings a Problem for Bird Feeders?

There are two main reasons why starlings can pose challenges at bird feeders: their competitive and aggressive behavior, and their displacement of native bird species.

1. Competitive and Aggressive Behavior: Starlings are known for their highly competitive nature. They often dominate bird feeders, scare away smaller birds, and consume large quantities of food, leaving little for other birds to enjoy.

2. Displacement of Native Bird Species: Starlings, being non-native birds, can push away native bird species from their natural feeding areas. This disrupts the delicate ecological balance and can have a negative impact on local bird populations.

To address this issue and create a more welcoming environment for a diverse range of birds, here are some tips to get starlings away from bird feeders. Implementing these measures can help discourage starlings without harming them or other birds.

1. Adjust the Feeder Design: Make adjustments to the feeder design that prevent starlings from accessing the food while allowing smaller birds to feed comfortably.

2. Use Safflower Seeds: Starlings have a strong dislike for safflower seeds, so using this type of seed can deter them from visiting the feeder.

3. Opt for Feeders with Protective Features: Choose bird feeders that have protective features like cages or weight-sensitive perches, limiting starling access while allowing smaller birds to feed.

4. Install Squirrel Baffles: Squirrel baffles can be effective in preventing starlings from reaching the bird feeder, as they are skilled climbers.

5. Create Physical Barriers: Employ physical barriers such as wire mesh or netting to keep starlings from accessing the feeder.

6. Change Feeding Location and Schedule: Relocate feeders to areas where starlings may have less access or consider adjusting feeding times to minimize starling presence.

7. Employ Sound Deterrents: Certain sound deterrents, like ultrasonic devices or predator calls, can help deter starlings from frequenting the feeder area.

8. Try Visual Deterrents: Use visual deterrents such as reflective tape, scare balloons, or predator decoys to discourage starlings from approaching the feeder.

9. Remove Other Food Sources: Clear away other sources of food, such as spilled seeds or uncovered garbage, which may attract starlings to the area.

10. Consider Using Starling-Proof Feeders: Invest in specialized feeders designed to specifically deter starlings while accommodating smaller bird species.

Remember, it may take some trial and error to find the most effective solution for your specific situation. However, with patience and persistence, you can create a bird feeder environment that welcomes a diverse range of bird species while minimizing the presence of starlings. If the problem persists or escalates, it may be advisable to seek professional help from pest control services specializing in bird management.

Key takeaway:

  • Starlings at bird feeders can be a problem due to their competitive and aggressive behavior and displacement of native bird species.
  • To get starlings away from bird feeders, adjust the feeder design, use safflower seeds, opt for feeders with protective features, install squirrel baffles, create physical barriers, change feeding location and schedule, employ sound and visual deterrents, remove other food sources, and consider using starling-proof feeders.
  • If the issue persists, it may be necessary to seek professional help for effective bird feeder management.

Understanding the Issue: Starlings at Bird Feeders

Understanding the Issue: Starlings at Bird Feeders

Understanding the issue: Dealing with starlings at bird feeders can pose a challenging problem. These highly social birds are known for their aggressive behavior and ability to disrupt the feeding patterns of other bird species. To address this issue effectively, it is crucial to consider a few key factors.

1. Behavior: Starlings are opportunistic feeders and tend to gather in large groups. They take advantage of bird feeders, often driving away other birds in the process.

2. Population: Starling populations can vary significantly across different regions, sometimes reaching millions in number.

3. Impact: The presence of starlings at bird feeders can result in food depletion, territorial conflicts, and the displacement of other bird species.

4. Strategies: There are several strategies that can help alleviate the starling problem at bird feeders. These include using specialized feeders designed to exclude larger birds, offering less attractive food options like suet or mealworms, and utilizing noise deterrents.

5. Legal considerations: In certain regions, starlings are classified as invasive species and may be subject to specific control measures. It is essential to familiarize yourself with local regulations before taking any action.

Understanding the issue: Dealing with starlings at bird feeders requires careful observation, considering their behavior and the impact they have on other bird species, and implementing appropriate strategies. By doing so, it is possible to create a more harmonious feeding environment for a diverse range of bird species.

Why Are Starlings a Problem for Bird Feeders?

Starlings can be quite a nuisance when it comes to bird feeders. Their competitive and aggressive behavior, along with their tendency to displace native bird species, poses a significant problem. But why exactly are starlings such a challenge? In this section, we’ll dig into the reasons behind their problematic presence at bird feeders, shedding light on their disruptive ways and the impact they have on the natural bird population.

Competitive and Aggressive Behavior

  • Starlings exhibit competitive and aggressive behavior at bird feeders, which can cause problems for other bird species.

  • They often monopolize the food source, preventing other birds from accessing it.

  • Starlings have a tendency to flock together in large numbers, overpowering smaller bird species.

  • Their aggressive behavior includes chasing away other birds and even physically attacking them.

  • This behavior can create an imbalance in the ecosystem and disrupt the natural feeding patterns of native bird species.

  • The aggressive behavior of starlings can lead to increased stress and competition among birds, potentially impacting their ability to find sufficient food resources.

  • They also have the capability to scare away and displace other birds from their nesting and feeding areas.

  • To discourage starlings’ competitive and aggressive behavior, it is important to implement strategies such as adjusting feeder design, using safflower seeds, and opting for feeders with protective features.

  • Installing squirrel baffles, creating physical barriers, and changing the feeding location and schedule can also help deter starlings.

  • Employing sound deterrents, trying visual deterrents, and removing other food sources can make the feeding environment less appealing to starlings.

Displacement of Native Bird Species


When starlings invade bird feeders, they pose a significant threat to native bird species due to the displacement they cause [2.2]. The competitive and aggressive behavior of starlings leads to the intimidation and domination of other birds, making it impossible for them to access the feeders and the valuable food resources they provide.

The presence of starlings in the area can result in a decline in the population of native bird species. They outcompete smaller birds for food, leading to reduced biodiversity and disrupting the natural balance of the ecosystem. In order to survive, native birds may be forced to search for alternative food sources or migrate to new territories.

To combat the displacement of native bird species caused by starlings, it is crucial to take action [3]. Here are some suggestions:

  • Modify the feeder design to discourage starlings while still allowing smaller birds to access it.
  • Utilize safflower seeds as they are not as appealing to starlings but still attract native bird species.
  • Choose feeders with protective features like cages or mesh to prevent larger birds, such as starlings, from reaching the food.
  • Install squirrel baffles to prevent starlings and other large birds from reaching the feeder.
  • Create physical barriers like baffles or cones around the feeder to limit starlings’ access.
  • Consider changing the feeding location and schedule to provide native birds with opportunities to access the feeders without interference from starlings.
  • Implement sound deterrents like ultrasonic devices or predator call recordings to discourage starlings.
  • Try using visual deterrents like shiny objects or scarecrows to prevent starlings from approaching the feeders.
  • Remove other food sources in the area to reduce competition between starlings and native bird species.
  • Explore the use of starling-proof feeders designed specifically to exclude starlings while still accommodating native bird species.

By implementing these measures, we can effectively reduce the displacement of native bird species caused by starlings and help restore the balance in our bird feeders and surrounding ecosystems.

Tips to Get Starlings Away from Bird Feeders

Fed up with starlings hogging your bird feeder? Discover effective tips to reclaim your feeder and attract other bird species. From adjusting the feeder design to utilizing safflower seeds, implementing squirrel baffles, and exploring sound and visual deterrents, this section offers practical solutions to deter starlings. By following these recommendations and removing other food sources, you can create an ideal feeding environment for a variety of bird species while minimizing the interference of starlings. Say goodbye to starling dominance and welcome a diverse avian community to your bird feeder.

Adjust the Feeder Design

To optimize the feeder design and discourage starlings from dominating the feeding area, here are the necessary steps:

  1. Choose a feeder with smaller openings: Starlings, with their larger beaks, can access bird feed that other species cannot. By selecting a feeder with narrower openings, you can prevent them from reaching the food.
  2. Create a barrier or cage around the feeder: Placing a mesh or bar barrier around the feeder creates an obstacle that starlings cannot overcome. Ensure that the mesh or bars are small enough to keep them from entering.
  3. Opt for feeders equipped with weight-sensitive mechanisms: Certain feeders are designed to close or restrict access when a specific weight is applied. This mechanism is effective in preventing starlings from accessing the feeder since their heavier weight will activate it.
  4. Mount the feeder on a pole: Starlings have a talent for swinging on hanging feeders. To impede their access, install the feeder on a pole, making it more challenging for them to reach the food.
  5. Adjust the height of the feeder: Starlings tend to prefer feeders placed lower to the ground. Discourage them from feeding by raising the feeder higher off the ground.

By incorporating these adjustments into the feeder design, you can create a bird-friendly environment while deterring starlings from dominating the feeding area.

Use Safflower Seeds

Using safflower seeds can help deter starlings from bird feeders by using safflower seeds. Here are some reasons why you should use safflower seeds:

  • Safflower seeds have a taste that is bitter to starlings, discouraging them from feeding on them.
  • Starlings have a preference for sunflower seeds and other types of seeds, so using safflower seeds can help reduce their attraction to your bird feeders.
  • Safflower seeds are a great option because they still attract a variety of desirable birds like cardinals, chickadees, and finches.
  • By using safflower seeds, you can create a feeding environment that is less appealing to starlings, ensuring that other native bird species have a chance to enjoy the feeders as well.
  • It is important to note that it may take some time for starlings to adjust to safflower seeds. Be patient and consistent with using safflower seeds in your bird feeders.

Historically, safflower seeds have been used as a natural deterrent for starlings. Bird enthusiasts have found success by using safflower seeds to minimize starling presence at their feeders, promoting a healthier and more diverse bird population in their gardens. The bitter taste of safflower seeds, coupled with the starlings’ preference for other types of seeds, makes safflower seeds an effective tool in deterring starlings. By incorporating safflower seeds into your bird feeding routine, you can use safflower seeds to create a welcoming environment for a wider range of bird species while reducing the dominance of starlings.

Opt for Feeders with Protective Features

When dealing with starlings at bird feeders, it is important to opt for feeders with protective features in order to minimize their impact.

  • Choose feeders with sturdy construction: It is recommended to look for feeders made of durable materials like metal or reinforced plastic. This will discourage starlings from damaging the feeder or gaining access to the seeds.
  • Use weight-sensitive feeders: These types of feeders are specifically designed to close off access to the seeds when a heavy bird like a starling lands on the perch. This ensures that smaller birds can still access the feeder while starlings are discouraged.
  • Consider cage-style feeders: Another option is to use feeders that have metal mesh or wire cages surrounding the seed compartments. Smaller birds can easily slip through the gaps to feed, but starlings will have a harder time gaining access.
  • Opt for feeders with adjustable perches: Some feeders come equipped with adjustable perches that can be narrowed to prevent larger birds, such as starlings, from feeding. This allows you to accommodate smaller, desirable bird species while keeping starlings away.
  • Choose tube feeders with small ports: Starlings have difficulty maneuvering around small feeding ports, so it is advisable to select a tube feeder with smaller openings. This can effectively deter them while attracting smaller birds.

By opting for feeders with these protective features, you can create a more bird-friendly environment that discourages starlings while still attracting the native bird species you want to see in your yard.

Install Squirrel Baffles

  1. Install squirrel baffles to effectively deter starlings from accessing bird feeders. Follow these steps:
  2. Choose a suitable location: Place the squirrel baffle above or below the bird feeder, ensuring it covers the entire access route for squirrels.
  3. Measure and prepare: Determine the diameter of the feeder’s pole or hanging wire and select a squirrel baffle that matches the size.
  4. Assemble the squirrel baffle: Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions to securely assemble the baffle.
  5. Attach the squirrel baffle: Slide the squirrel baffle over the bird feeder’s pole or hanging wire, ensuring it rests securely and cannot be easily moved by squirrels.
  6. Test for effectiveness: Monitor the bird feeder for any squirrel activity. The properly installed baffles should prevent squirrels from accessing the feeder.
  7. Maintain and adjust if necessary: Regularly check the squirrel baffles to ensure they remain securely in place. If squirrels find alternative routes, consider adjusting the position or adding additional baffles as required.

By installing squirrel baffles, you can effectively deter squirrels from accessing bird feeders, allowing native bird species to feed undisturbed.

Create Physical Barriers

To effectively deter starlings from accessing bird feeders and allow smaller bird species to enjoy the food provided, you can implement various methods to create physical barriers. Follow these steps:

  1. Construct a cage or wire mesh enclosure around the feeder to prevent starlings from reaching the food. This will ensure that only smaller birds can enter and feed.
  2. Opt for a feeder equipped with adjustable perches or access points that can be closed off to larger birds like starlings. By doing so, you enable only smaller birds to access the feeder.
  3. Situate the feeder in an area surrounded by natural barriers such as tree branches or shrubs. These obstacles will make it challenging for starlings to reach the feeder effectively.
  4. Attach strips of reflective tape or noise-making devices near the feeder to deter starlings with their movement and sounds.
  5. Suspend the feeder from a wire or string between two poles or trees. This setup will make it difficult for starlings to land and gain access to the food.

By incorporating these measures, you can effectively create physical barriers that discourage starlings while allowing smaller bird species to enjoy the provided food.

Change Feeding Location and Schedule

  1. Change the feeding location: Choose a spot that is less accessible to starlings. Look for areas with limited cover and good visibility, as this can deter starlings from approaching.
  2. Adjust the feeding schedule: Experiment with feeding the birds at different times of the day. Starlings are known to be early risers, so altering the schedule can help attract other bird species while reducing encounters with starlings.
  3. Implement a rotation system: If you have multiple feeding stations, regularly change the location of the feeders. This can confuse starlings and make it more challenging for them to establish dominance over a specific territory.
  4. Use hanging feeders: Consider utilizing hanging feeders instead of ground or platform feeders. Hanging feeders make it harder for starlings to access the food, as they prefer feeding on the ground or flat surfaces.
  5. Keep the area clean: Remove any spilled seeds or debris around the feeders that may attract starlings. Maintaining a clean feeding area can discourage starlings from frequenting the location.
  6. Monitor and adapt: Continuously observe the feeding area and make changes as necessary. If starlings persist as a problem, experiment with different feeding locations, schedules, or feeder types until you discover a solution that works.

By changing the feeding location and schedule, you can create a more inviting environment for other bird species while discouraging starlings from dominating the bird feeders.

Employ Sound Deterrents

Employing sound deterrents is a highly effective method to deter starlings from bird feeders. Here are some options to consider:

  • Utilize wind chimes or bells near the feeders to create unpleasant noise that starlings find discouraging.
  • Employ ultrasonic devices that emit high-frequency sounds to effectively deter starlings without causing harm to other bird species.
  • Take advantage of playing recordings of distress calls or predator sounds to intimidate starlings and discourage them from approaching the feeders.
  • Consider using motion-activated devices that emit sudden loud noises or bursts of air to startle starlings and make them feel threatened.
  • Install bird deterrent sound systems that emit a variety of sounds, including distress calls of various bird species or natural predator sounds, to effectively deter starlings from bird feeders.
  • Utilize radios or other audio devices to play loud music or talk radio and disrupt starlings’ feeding patterns, making them uncomfortable.

By employing sound deterrents, you can effectively discourage starlings from accessing bird feeders and protect valuable resources for native bird species.

Try Visual Deterrents

  • Try visual deterrents: Experiment with various visual deterrent strategies to discourage starlings from approaching the bird feeders. Hang reflective objects, like CDs or aluminum foil strips, near the feeders to create movement and reflection. Install scarecrows or decoys, such as fake owls or hawks, to intimidate the starlings. Cut out the shape of a bird of prey or predator from black cardboard or plywood and attach it to the feeders or nearby trees as a silhouette decoy. Hang bird-shaped objects, such as bird cutouts or metal silhouettes, near the feeders to make the starlings perceive them as competitors. Install motion-activated devices, like sprinklers or ultrasonic repellers, to startle the starlings with sudden movements or high-pitched sounds. Hang visual deterrent tapes or reflective ribbons near the feeders to confuse the starlings with their fluttering and reflective nature. Place objects or stickers with predator eye patterns or masks near the feeders to make the starlings uncomfortable. Consider using bright colors for the bird feeder, like red, orange, or yellow, to make it less attractive to starlings. Combine multiple visual deterrent strategies to increase their effectiveness, such as hanging reflective objects alongside silhouette decoys or using scarecrows in combination with visual deterrent tapes. Regularly monitor and adjust the visual deterrents to maintain their effectiveness, as starlings may become accustomed to certain deterrents over time.

Remove Other Food Sources

To effectively deter starlings from bird feeders, it is important to remove other food sources that may attract them. Here are some suggestions to achieve this:

  1. Secure birdseed storage: Ensure birdseed is stored in airtight containers to prevent easy access for starlings and other unwanted birds.
  2. Eradicate fallen fruits and berries: Starlings are drawn to fruits and berries, so regularly eliminate any fallen ones from your garden or yard.
  3. Seal garbage cans: Starlings are known to scavenge for food in trash cans. Make sure your garbage cans have secure lids to prevent them from accessing any food scraps.
  4. Clean pet food: If you have outdoor pets, avoid leaving their food bowls out for extended periods. After each meal, empty and clean the bowls to prevent attracting starlings.
  5. Remove potential nesting areas: Starlings are more likely to stay in an area if they can find suitable nesting sites nearby. Take out any unused birdhouses or close off openings where they could potentially build nests.
  6. Mindful composting: If you have a compost pile, avoid adding food scraps that may attract starlings. Consider covering the pile with a layer of soil or using enclosed compost bins to deter them.
  7. Secure fruit and vegetable gardens: If you have a garden, protect your crops by using bird netting or other barriers that will prevent starlings from accessing and feeding on your produce.

By removing other food sources, you can help minimize the attractiveness of your bird feeders to starlings, increasing the chances of attracting native bird species instead.

Consider Using Starling-Proof Feeders

  • When considering starling-proof feeders, consider using starling-proof feeders: Starling-proof feeders are specially designed to prevent starlings from accessing bird feed. These feeders usually have small openings or mesh that only allow smaller bird species to access the food. By using starling-proof feeders, you can ensure that the food is only available to the desired bird species, while keeping starlings at bay.

When considering starling-proof feeders, it’s important to choose the right design and size that suits the bird species you want to attract. The feeder should have openings that are too small for starlings to enter but large enough for smaller birds to comfortably feed. Look for feeders that have adjustable perches or weight-sensitive mechanisms to discourage larger birds like starlings from landing on them.

It’s important to regularly clean and maintain the feeders to ensure their effectiveness. Remove any spilled seeds or debris that could attract starlings and other unwanted birds. Place the feeders in a location that is difficult for starlings to access, such as away from trees or other structures where they can perch and jump onto the feeder.

By considering the use of starling-proof feeders, you can create a bird-friendly environment that attracts the desired bird species while deterring starlings and preserving the feeding opportunities for other native birds.

When to Seek Professional Help

When dealing with starlings at your bird feeder, it is crucial to know when to seek professional help. There may come a time when the infestation surpasses your abilities and requires the expertise of a trained ornithologist or pest control professional. Recognizing the signs that indicate the need for professional assistance is key in effectively addressing the starling problem and protecting the well-being of your property and other wildlife.

One clear indication that you should consult a professional is a persistent infestation. Despite your efforts to deter starlings, if they continue to flock to your bird feeder, it is time to seek expert advice. A professional can assess the situation and employ effective methods to eliminate the infestation, taking into consideration the unique challenges posed by starlings.

Another situation that calls for professional help is significant damage to your property caused by starlings. If these birds are damaging the structure of your home or creating safety hazards, it is crucial to act immediately. By contacting a professional, you can identify the root cause of the problem and implement appropriate solutions to mitigate the damage.

Furthermore, professional intervention may be necessary if the presence of starlings at your bird feeder is posing a threat to other desirable bird species or wildlife in your area. A professional can devise strategies to protect the native species while deterring starlings, ensuring a balanced and harmonious environment.

To illustrate the importance of seeking professional help, consider a similar scenario in a small town plagued by starlings. Despite residents’ attempts to deter the birds, the infestation persisted. Finally, they decided to consult an expert ornithologist who conducted an in-depth analysis of the situation. With their expertise, targeted solutions were implemented, effectively resolving the starling problem and restoring a harmonious environment for both residents and native bird species.

Some Facts About How To Get Starlings Away From Bird Feeder:

  • ✅ European starlings are disliked and considered a nuisance by many due to their invasion in large flocks and their tendency to disrupt backyard bird feeders. (Source:
  • ✅ Several methods can be employed to get rid of starlings and keep them away from bird feeders. (Source:
  • ✅ Starling proof bird feeders, such as the squirrel buster, have a counterweight that closes the feeder holes on heavier animals, deterring starlings. (Source:
  • ✅ Cage feeders with a cage around the tube feeder can be used to prevent starlings from entering, but this may also keep out similar-sized feeder birds. (Source:
  • ✅ Upside-down feeders like the Audubon bottom feeder can be used for suet feeders as starlings and grackles do not like to hang upside down, deterring them while still allowing access for clinging birds like woodpeckers. (Source:

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get starlings away from my bird feeder?

Starlings can be a nuisance, but there are several methods you can try to deter them from your bird feeder. One option is to use a starling proof bird feeder, such as the squirrel buster, which has a counterweight that closes the feeder holes on heavier animals. Another option is to use a cage feeder, which has a cage around the tube feeder that prevents starlings from entering. An upside-down feeder, like the Audubon bottom feeder, can also deter starlings and grackles. Employing seasonal tactics, such as using caged tube feeders in the summer and non-cage feeders in the winter, can help as well.

Why are starlings taking over my bird feeder?

Starlings have a tendency to invade bird feeders in large flocks. Their insatiable appetites and disruptive behavior can lead to them dominating the feeder, making it difficult for other birds to access food. It is important to implement strategies to deter starlings and maintain a balanced feeding environment for all bird species.

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What can I do to attract small birds while deterring house sparrows?

Attracting small songbirds while deterring house sparrows can be a challenge. One method is to switch to seed mixes that contain small seeds like nyjer seed or sunflower kernels/chips, which house sparrows find less appealing. Another option is to temporarily remove feeders for a couple of weeks to discourage house sparrows from associating the area with food. Additionally, keeping food off the ground and using different nesting options can help dissuade house sparrows from taking over the space.

How can I deter blue jays from taking over my bird feeder?

Blue jays can dominate bird feeders, preventing smaller birds from accessing the food. To deter blue jays, you can use feeders designed for smaller birds, as blue jays are less likely to use them. These special feeders make it easier for smaller birds to access the food while making it more difficult for blue jays to feed. Using trial and error with different feeder designs and seed types can help find a solution that works best for your specific situation.

What are some seasonal tactics to deter starlings and grackles from my bird feeder?

Using seasonal tactics can be an effective way to deter starlings and grackles from your bird feeder. For example, using caged tube feeders during the summer when starlings and grackles are more active can help prevent them from accessing the feeder while still allowing smaller birds to feed. In the winter, switching to non-cage feeders can create a feeding space more suitable for desirable bird species, as starlings and grackles may be less prevalent during this time.

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.