How To Keep Starlings From Nesting In Bird Houses

How To Keep Starlings From Nesting In Bird Houses

Birdhouses are a haven for many birds. Unfortunately, starlings can be unwelcome guests! Although they may seem harmless, they can take over birdhouses and oust native birds. Keeping a harmonious birdhouse environment means deterring starlings from nesting.

For the right tenants, careful consideration is needed. Providing the right nest box dimensions and hole sizes can limit starling access while still letting in desirable species, like bluebirds or wrens.

Predator guards are also helpful. These obstacles stop starlings from getting into the entrance hole, yet let in smaller birds. Choose strong materials, like metal or PVC, for this task.

Where you put the birdhouses is also important. Mounting them in open areas away from trees and shrubs reduces starling appeal, as they prefer secretive spaces. Plus, adjusting the height of the houses can further discourage unwanted nesters.

To successfully keep starlings away, you need to be persistent. Regularly check the birdhouses and remove any nesting materials left by intruders. Keeping the houses clean and free from debris sends a clear message: Unwanted visitors are not welcome!

Why starlings nest in bird houses

Starlings love bird houses! They’re spacious and in convenient locations. Plus, they offer protection from bad weather and easy access to food. Starlings are also known for their adaptability. They can make use of human-made structures instead of natural nesting sites. This helps them survive in places where traditional nesting spots are scarce.

In addition, bird houses play an important role in preserving the starling population. With deforestation on the rise, natural nesting sites are limited. By providing bird houses, humans can help maintain starling numbers.

Some may view starlings negatively due to competition with native birds and potential risks to crops. But it’s important to remember their historical significance. They were introduced into North America in the late 1800s by Shakespeare fans who wanted to establish all birds mentioned in his works. This shows how our actions can have long-lasting impacts on the ecosystem.

The problems associated with starlings nesting in bird houses

Starlings nesting in bird houses can cause various issues, such as:

  • Competition with native birds
  • Messy nest-building technique
  • Potential damage to the bird house
  • Noisy and disruptive behavior
  • Unsanitary droppings

To prevent these birds from nesting, steps should be taken. For instance, entrance hole restrictors can be fitted, which allow smaller native birds access but prevent starlings. Moreover, bird houses with smaller entrance holes may deter starlings. Placing reflective objects or predator decoys by the bird house may also discourage them.

A remarkable fact is that humans accidentally introduced European starlings to North America in the 19th century. A society dedicated to bringing Shakespeare’s birds to Central Park released 60 of these birds. This unintentional action has caused a rapid growth of their population in the continent since then.

Ways to prevent starlings from nesting in bird houses

Bird-watchers often battle starlings taking over their bird houses. To stop this, several tactics can be put in place.

  • Use a starling-resistant entrance: Starlings are larger than other birds and can fit into tiny holes. By using bird houses with small entrances or adding entrance hole restrictors, starlings can be kept away while smaller birds can still nest.
  • Set up a predator guard: Starlings are afraid of predators such as cats and snakes. Having a predator guard near or on the bird house will keep starlings from nesting due to fear.
  • Offer other housing options: Starlings prefer enclosed cavity-style nests. By providing open-fronted bird houses or nesting platforms, other species can be attracted that won’t compete with starlings for nesting spots.
  • Keep bird houses clean and maintained: Starlings are more likely to nest in dirty, untidy bird houses. Clean the interiors and take out old nests straight away to deter them from settling in.

Also, certain aspects need to be taken into account when making use of these strategies. For instance, it’s important to get the correct design of bird house that suits the needs of desired species while discouraging starlings. Further, observing the bird houses regularly and fixing any issues quickly can help maintain a starling-free setting for other birds.

Pro Tip: Don’t use metal or plastic materials in bird house construction, as these materials can heat up during summer and make it unfavorable for birds to nest in them.

Natural alternatives to bird houses for starlings

No bird houses? No problem!

Create natural nesting cavities with dead trees or branches in elevated areas.

Plant dense shrubs and bushes for barriers.

Install realistic decoys of predatory birds to scare away starlings and small birds.

Put up bird spikes or netting near potential nesting sites.

Make loud noises with loudspeakers or wind chimes to make them flee.

Motion-activated sprinklers deter them too.

Also, clean out bird houses or cavities regularly.

Persistence is key.

To get the best results, combine different techniques and evaluate what works best for your situation.


To keep starlings away from bird houses, a mix of approaches is necessary.

  1. Modify the entrance hole size, to fit smaller birds.
  2. Put predator guards and baffles around the bird house, to stop starlings from entering.
  3. Clean and maintain the bird houses regularly, in order to deter starling occupancy.
  4. Provide alternative nesting options nearby, like specifically designed starling-resistant nest boxes.

Also, select the right location for the bird houses. Place them in open areas, away from dense vegetation or busy places. Put natural nesting materials like sticks and twigs close to the nest box, to attract preferred birds and avert starlings.

An example of this strategy working: A homeowner in a suburban area saw many starlings taking over all the nesting spots, including bird houses. They modified the entrance holes for smaller songbirds, and put small barriers around each hole, to prevent the starlings. Soon, wrens and chickadees started visiting the bird houses, since the starlings were no longer a problem. With proactive measures, it is possible to make bird houses safe havens for the birds we love.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ: How To Keep Starlings From Nesting In Bird Houses

Q1: Why should I prevent starlings from nesting in bird houses?

A1: Starlings are aggressive birds that often take over nesting spaces of other bird species. They can harm native birds, reduce biodiversity, and even destroy eggs or nestlings. Preventing starlings from nesting in bird houses helps protect local bird populations and maintain ecological balance.

Q2: What are the signs of starlings nesting in bird houses?

A2: Common signs include messy nests made of grass, twigs, and feathers; large numbers of starlings around the bird house; excessive noise and commotion around the nesting area; and aggressive behavior towards other birds attempting to use the house.

Q3: How can I make my bird house starling-proof?

A3: There are several effective methods to deter starlings. Use a bird house with a smaller entrance hole (1-1.25 inches) that is too small for starlings but accommodating to desired bird species. Placing sparrow spookers or wire cages around the entrance hole can also prevent starling access while allowing smaller birds to enter.

Q4: Can I remove starling nests from my bird house?

A4: It is not recommended to remove starling nests after they are built, as it is illegal in many countries to disturb active nests. Instead, focus on preventing starling nesting in the first place by implementing deterrent measures before breeding season begins.

Q5: Are there natural ways to deter starlings?

A5: Yes, some natural methods can help deter starlings. Placing reflective objects near the bird house, such as old CDs or aluminum foil strips, can create glare that starlings dislike. Providing nest boxes specifically designed for desired bird species can also reduce starling interest in your bird houses.

Q6: Are there any legal implications for preventing starlings from nesting?

A6: Generally, it is legal to deter starlings from nesting in bird houses to protect native bird species. However, it is important to familiarize yourself with local wildlife laws and regulations, as they may vary. Consulting local birding societies or wildlife authorities can provide specific guidance for your region.

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.