How To Keep Starlings Out Of Bird Feeder

How To Keep Starlings Out Of Bird Feeder

Starlings can be a nuisance when they invade bird feeders, causing disturbances and overpowering other bird species. Understanding the behavior and habits of starlings is essential in effectively keeping them out of bird feeders. In this article, we will explore why it is important to keep starlings out of bird feeders and discuss methods and tips to accomplish this.

Firstly, it is crucial to understand starlings themselves. We will delve into their identification and habits to gain insight into their behavior around bird feeders. we will explore why starlings pose a problem specifically for bird feeders.

To keep starlings out of bird feeders, there are various effective methods that can be employed. These include using starling-proof feeders, adjusting feeder openings and perches to discourage starling access, selecting feed and feeders that are unattractive to starlings, installing physical barriers, creating distraction feeders, modifying the feeding schedule, and utilizing visual and sound deterrents.

we will provide other tips for managing starlings, such as regularly cleaning the feeder to maintain hygiene, monitoring and maintaining the feeding area to discourage starlings, and practicing other bird feeding best practices to promote a healthy and diverse bird population.

By implementing these methods and tips, bird enthusiasts can enjoy their bird feeders while minimizing starling interference and promoting a more balanced and harmonious feeding environment for various bird species.

Key takeaway:

  • Keeping starlings out of bird feeders is important: Starlings can cause problems for bird feeders, so it’s crucial to take steps to discourage their presence.
  • Understanding starlings: Learn about starlings’ identification, habits, and why they pose a problem for bird feeders.
  • Methods to keep starlings out: Use starling-proof bird feeders, adjust feeder openings and perches, select feed and feeders that are unattractive to starlings, install physical barriers, create a distraction feeder, modify the feeding schedule, and use visual and sound deterrents.
  • Other tips for managing starlings: Clean the feeder regularly, monitor and maintain the feeding area, and practice other bird feeding best practices.

Why Keep Starlings Out of Bird Feeders?

Starlings are known to be intrusive and aggressive birds, often causing trouble at bird feeders. So, why keep starlings out of bird feeders? Well, there are several reasons. First and foremost, starlings have a voracious appetite and can quickly deplete the food meant for other birds. This reduces the food availability for other species, leading to competition and potential starvation. Moreover, starlings tend to form large, noisy flocks which can scare away smaller, more timid birds, depriving us of the joy of observing a diverse range of bird species in our gardens.

To ensure that starlings stay away from bird feeders, you can employ a few strategies. Consider using feeders that have deterrent mechanisms specifically designed to exclude starlings while still allowing access to smaller birds. Another effective approach is to adjust the feeding mechanism to accommodate the weight of lighter avian species while denying access to heavier birds like starlings. Additionally, you may want to consider placing your bird feeders in locations that are less accessible to starlings, such as away from trees or using baffles to prevent them from perching and reaching the food.

Keeping starlings out of bird feeders is essential to maintaining a harmonious and diverse bird population in your garden. By implementing suitable strategies and deterrent mechanisms, you can create an inviting space for smaller, more delicate species while discouraging the dominant and disruptive behavior of starlings.

Understanding Starlings

Starlings are a fascinating bird species that is both sociable and highly intelligent. Belonging to the Sturnidae family, these birds are well-known for their distinctive glossy plumage and melodious song. By understanding starlings, we can gain a deeper appreciation for their unique behavior and adjust our bird feeders accordingly to cater to their needs.

One important aspect to consider is their diet. Starlings have a varied menu, including fruits, insects, and seeds. Being opportunistic feeders, they are capable of consuming large quantities of food.

In terms of nesting habits, starlings prefer cavities and often find themselves in competition with native bird species for nesting sites. This can lead to conflicts, particularly since they have a tendency to form large nesting colonies.

Starlings are not just skilled in mimicking sounds, but they are also capable of imitating other birds and even human speech. They use these vocalizations for communication and to attract mates.

Understanding starlings’ migratory patterns is crucial. While some populations migrate, others remain resident year-round. Knowing their movements can help us track their presence and anticipate their visits to our bird feeders.

It’s worth noting that starlings are considered invasive in certain regions due to their aggressive behavior and competition with native bird species for resources. This is an important factor to bear in mind.

To manage starlings at bird feeders, implementing deterrents like feeders with specific spacing or design features that make it challenging for starlings to access food is crucial. Regular cleaning of feeders and selective bird food can also minimize their attraction.

By understanding starlings and their behavior, we can create an environment that promotes the coexistence of various bird species while still appreciating the remarkable presence of these animals.

Identification and Habits

  • Identification: Starlings are medium-sized birds measuring about 8 to 9 inches long. They have a short tail, a pointed bill, and glossy black feathers with iridescent purple and green hues. Their legs are pinkish in color and they have a strong, direct flight. Male and female starlings look similar.
  • Habits: Starlings are highly social birds and often form large flocks, especially during winter months. They are omnivorous and feed on a variety of foods including insects, fruits, seeds, and grains. They are known for their vocalizations and can mimic the calls of other birds and even human sounds.

I once observed a group of starlings gathering near my bird feeder. Their synchronized movements and vibrant plumage caught my attention. I noticed how they took turns taking flight to gather food and returned to the communal gathering spot. The starlings displayed their adaptability by exploring different feeding techniques, including hanging upside down or using their beaks to quickly extract seeds. It was fascinating to witness their agility and social interactions as they navigated the feeder. This experience deepened my appreciation for the unique identification and habits of these remarkable birds.

Why Are Starlings a Problem for Bird Feeders?

Starlings can be a problem for bird feeders due to their behavior and feeding habits. Let’s understand why starlings pose a challenge for bird feeders. These are the reasons:

  • Competition for food: Starlings are aggressive and dominant, displacing smaller songbirds and hindering their access to food.
  • Bullying behavior: Starlings form large flocks, overpowering other birds and creating a chaotic and intimidating environment at the feeder.
  • Rapid food consumption: Starlings have an insatiable appetite and can quickly devour significant amounts of birdseed, leading to increased expenses for bird feeding enthusiasts.
  • Food waste: Starlings often scatter or throw out excessive amounts of birdseed while feeding, causing unnecessary mess and attracting unwanted pests.
  • Disease transmission: Due to their congregating nature, starlings can contribute to the spread of avian diseases, posing health risks to other bird species that frequently visit the feeder.
  • Native bird displacement: Starlings, being non-native species in many regions, can outcompete native birds for resources, leading to a decline in their populations.

Understanding the problems associated with starlings at bird feeders enables bird enthusiasts to adopt appropriate measures, mitigating their negative impact and fostering a more harmonious feeding environment for the desired bird species.

Methods to Keep Starlings Out of Bird Feeders

Looking to protect your bird feeders from pesky starlings? We’ve got you covered with effective methods to keep these unwanted guests at bay. From utilizing starling-proof bird feeders to adjusting feeder openings and perches, we’ll explore various techniques to deter starlings from devouring your feathered friends’ food. We’ll dive into selecting feed and feeders that are unappealing to starlings, installing physical barriers, creating distraction feeders, modifying feeding schedules, and even incorporating visual and sound deterrents. Say goodbye to starling invasions and create a haven for your beloved birds.

Use Starling-Proof Bird Feeders

  • Invest in bird feeders specifically designed to use starling-proof bird feeders. These feeders are designed with mechanisms that discourage starlings while allowing smaller birds to access the food.
  • Choose feeders with small openings to make it more difficult for starlings to access the food. Opt for feeders with narrower perches or feeding ports.
  • Utilize weight-activated feeders to effectively deter starlings. These feeders close off access to the food when heavier birds land on them, preventing starlings from getting to the feed.
  • Opt for caged feeders to keep starlings out. These feeders have wire cages surrounding the food, allowing smaller birds to access it while keeping starlings at bay.
  • Consider tube feeders with protective baffles to deter starlings. The baffles prevent larger birds, like starlings, from accessing the feeding ports, allowing smaller birds to feed without interference.
  • Regularly clean and maintain feeders to prevent starlings from being attracted to the feed. Residue and leftover food can attract starlings, so cleaning the feeders regularly can reduce their presence.

Adjust Feeder Openings and Perches

When it comes to keeping starlings out of bird feeders, adjusting feeder openings and perches can be an effective strategy. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Adjust the size of the feeder openings: Starlings have larger beaks, so reducing the size of the feeder openings can make it difficult for them to access the food. Consider using feeders with smaller holes or mesh that only allows smaller birds to enter.

2. Modify perches to be less inviting: Starlings prefer larger, stable perches. By modifying or removing the perches on your bird feeders, you can discourage starlings from landing and feeding. Utilize perches that are shorter or less stable to make it challenging for starlings to balance.

3. Utilize baffles or cages: Install baffles or cages around the feeder openings to prevent starlings from reaching the food. These barriers can be designed in a way that allows smaller birds to still access the feeder freely.

4. Opt for specialized feeders: Some feeders are designed specifically to deter starlings. Look for feeders with innovative designs that make it difficult for starlings to access the food, such as weight-activated mechanisms that close off the feeding ports when heavier birds like starlings land.

Remember, adjusting feeder openings and perches should be part of an overall strategy to keep starlings out of bird feeders. Combining this method with other deterrents, such as using starling-proof feeders and installing physical barriers, can increase the effectiveness of your efforts.

By making these adjustments, you can create a more welcoming and exclusive feeding space for smaller bird species while discouraging starlings from dominating the feeder.

Select Feed and Feeders That Are Unattractive to Starlings

Here are steps to select feed and feeders that are unattractive to starlings:

  1. Choose feeders with smaller openings to make it more difficult for starlings to access the food.
  2. Opt for feeders with weight-sensitive mechanisms. These feeders will close off the feeding ports when a heavy bird, such as a starling, tries to perch on them, preventing starlings from accessing the food.
  3. Use feeders with short perches or no perches at all. Starlings prefer to perch while feeding, so feeders with shorter perches or no perches will discourage them from staying and eating.
  4. Select feed that starlings dislike. Sunflower hearts or Nyjer seed are less appealing to starlings, while birds like finches and sparrows still enjoy them.
  5. Avoid using mixed seed blends that contain grains and milo, as starlings are attracted to these ingredients. Instead, choose seed blends with high-quality ingredients that starlings are less likely to prefer.
  6. Consider offering suet feeders or mealworms instead of seed feeders. These food options are not as appealing to starlings, so using suet feeders or providing mealworms can attract other bird species while deterring starlings.

Install Physical Barriers

  1. To prevent starlings from accessing bird feeders, you can install physical barriers. Here are the steps to follow:
  2. Use a cage-style feeder: Install a feeder surrounded by a cage with small openings. This allows smaller birds to access the feeder while keeping starlings out.
  3. Attach a baffle: Place a dome-shaped baffle or cone below the feeder. This barrier prevents starlings from reaching the feeder from below.
  4. Install a weight-activated feeder: These feeders are designed to close off access to the food when heavier birds, like starlings, land on them. When smaller birds perch, the feeder opens, allowing them to feed.
  5. Place a wire mesh netting: Create a physical barrier by covering the feeder with a mesh netting that has small enough openings to exclude starlings but still allow smaller birds to access the food.
  6. Use a tube feeder with adjustable perches: Opt for feeders that have perches that can be adjusted to a length that only smaller birds can comfortably use. Starlings and other larger birds won’t be able to balance and access the food.

By installing these physical barriers, you can ensure that starlings are unable to access the bird feeders, giving smaller birds the opportunity to feed undisturbed.

Create a Distraction Feeder

  1. Create a Distraction Feeder by placing a separate bird feeder away from your main bird feeding area.
  2. Fill this feeder with seeds that starlings are less attracted to, such as nyjer or safflower seeds.
  3. Add some suet or mealworms to the Distraction Feeder to further entice starlings away from the main feeder.
  4. Make sure the Distraction Feeder is easy for smaller birds to access but more challenging for starlings.
  5. Regularly monitor the Distraction Feeder and refill it as needed.

In addition to creating a Distraction Feeder, consider the following suggestions:

  • Provide alternative food sources for starlings, such as scattered seed on the ground, to further divert their attention.
  • Use other deterrents like shiny objects or wind chimes near the main bird feeder to discourage starlings.
  • Be patient and consistent in implementing these strategies to train starlings to seek food elsewhere.

Modify the Feeding Schedule

To modify the feeding schedule and deter starlings from bird feeders, follow these steps:

  1. Assess the feeding patterns of starlings: Carefully observe the times when starlings are most active at the bird feeder to determine the optimal timing for adjusting the feeding schedule.
  2. Adjust feeding times: If starlings tend to visit the bird feeder during the early morning or late afternoon, consider changing the feeding schedule to midday when starlings are typically less active. By doing this, you can attract a greater variety of bird species while discouraging starlings.
  3. Spread out feeding sessions: Instead of providing a large amount of food all at once, divide the feeding into multiple smaller sessions throughout the day. This approach decreases the chances of starlings monopolizing the feeder and gives other birds opportunities to access the food.
  4. Use timers or automated feeders: Install timers or automated feeders that dispense food at specific times when starlings are less likely to be present. This method allows you to control the feeding schedule effectively and discourage starlings from establishing regular feeding patterns.
  5. Combine with other deterrent methods: Modifying the feeding schedule should be done in conjunction with other deterrent methods, such as using starling-proof feeders, adjusting feeder openings and perches, and installing physical barriers.


  • Observe the behavior of birds in your area to determine the most effective times for modifying the feeding schedule.
  • Consider consulting with local bird experts or birding societies for specific advice on deterring starlings and attracting other bird species.
  • Regularly monitor the bird feeder and make adjustments as needed to ensure the feeding schedule remains effective in discouraging starlings.

Use Visual and Sound Deterrents

To deter starlings from bird feeders, there are multiple effective methods that utilize visual and sound deterrents:

  1. To create flashes of light that unsettle starlings, hang reflective objects such as shiny CDs or strips of aluminum foil near the feeders.
  2. Trick starlings into believing there is a predator nearby by using scarecrow-like decoys like plastic owls or hawks, causing them to avoid the area.
  3. Scare away starlings by playing recordings of distress calls or predator sounds, which can be easily obtained from birding supply stores or online.
  4. Install motion-activated devices that emit high-pitched sounds to startle starlings and discourage them from approaching the bird feeders.
  5. Deter starlings effectively by utilizing ultrasonic devices that emit sound waves at frequencies that are unpleasant for them, while remaining inaudible to humans.

A genuine historical example demonstrating the use of visual and sound deterrents is the implementation of scarecrows in agricultural fields. Farmers have long relied on scarecrows, made from straw and dressed in old clothes, to protect their crops from birds, including starlings. The visual presence of scarecrows frightens the birds away. In certain cultures, farmers would even attach noise-making devices like tin cans to scarecrows, creating sound deterrents. These methods have proven effective in reducing bird damage to crops and can be adapted for use in bird feeders to keep starlings at bay.

Other Tips for Managing Starlings

When it comes to managing starlings and keeping them away from your bird feeder, there are a few extra tips and tricks worth exploring. In this section, we’ll dive into some practical strategies that can help you maintain control over these clever birds. From regular feeder cleaning to monitoring the feeding area, and implementing other bird feeding best practices, we’ll share valuable insights to ensure your feathered friends get the food they need while keeping the starlings at bay.

Clean the Feeder Regularly

To maintain a healthy and inviting bird feeding environment, it is crucial to regularly clean the feeder. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Empty the feeder: Start by emptying the feeder of all remaining seed or bird food.
  2. Remove debris: Use a brush or cloth to naturally eliminate any debris or remaining food particles from the feeder.
  3. Wash with soap and water: Fill a bucket or sink with warm water and mild soap. Thoroughly soak the feeder and gently scrub it to naturally remove any dirt or grime.
  4. Rinse and dry: Rinse the feeder with clean water to naturally remove any soap residue. Allow it to air dry completely before refilling.
  5. Check for mold or mildew: Inspect the feeder for any signs of mold or mildew. If present, scrub the affected areas with a mild bleach solution and rinse thoroughly.
  6. Inspect for damage: While cleaning, carefully examine the feeder for any signs of wear or damage. Replace any broken parts to ensure the feeder’s integrity.
  7. Refill with fresh food: Once the feeder is completely dry and clean, refill it with fresh bird food or seed.

By consistently cleaning the feeder, you can effectively prevent the accumulation of mold, bacteria, and other contaminants that may pose harm to birds. This practice will guarantee a safe and hygienic feeding environment for your feathered friends.

Monitor and Maintain the Feeding Area

  1. Regularly monitor the feeding area to check for any signs of starlings.

  2. Ensure that any leftover food or debris is removed from the area to discourage starlings from returning.

  3. Inspect the bird feeders regularly and ensure they are in good working order.

  4. Promptly repair any damage to the feeders to prevent starlings from accessing the food.

  5. Monitor the surrounding trees and shrubs for any signs of starling activity, such as nests or droppings.

  6. Trim any nearby branches or vegetation that could provide a perch or access point for starlings.

  7. Consider using repellents or deterrents, such as reflective tape or wind chimes, to discourage starlings from approaching the area.

  8. Regularly clean the bird feeders to prevent the buildup of waste and bacteria that could attract starlings.

  9. Keep an eye on the bird feeder activity and observe if any starlings are attempting to access the food.

  10. If starlings are persistent, consider adjusting the location of the bird feeders to make them less accessible.

  11. Consistently monitor and maintain the feeding area to ensure it remains unattractive to starlings.

Practice Other Bird Feeding Best Practices

Here are some other bird feeding best practices to consider:

  1. Place feeders strategically: Position your bird feeders in an open area with good visibility to help deter starlings. Avoid placing feeders near dense foliage or shrubs where starlings can hide.
  2. Vary your feeding options: Offer a diverse range of bird feed, such as seeds, suet, and mealworms, to attract a variety of bird species. Starlings are less likely to dominate feeders that cater to specific bird preferences.
  3. Provide multiple feeding stations: Set up multiple feeders at different heights and locations to distribute birds more evenly. This can reduce the likelihood of starlings monopolizing a single feeder.
  4. Use baffles or cages: Install baffles or cages around your bird feeders to prevent larger birds like starlings from accessing the food. These physical barriers can help protect smaller bird species while deterring starlings.
  5. Keep feeders clean: Regularly clean bird feeders to prevent the spread of diseases among birds. Wash feeders with hot soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and allow them to dry completely before refilling.
  6. Control spilled seed: Clean up any spilled seed or debris from the ground beneath the feeders. Starlings are attracted to food scraps on the ground, so removing this food source can discourage their presence.
  7. Limit feeding times: Consider setting specific feeding times to reduce the visitation window for starlings. This can help establish feeding patterns for desirable bird species while minimizing interference from starlings.

Some Facts About How To Keep Starlings Out Of Bird Feeder:

  • ✅ Starlings are disliked and considered a nuisance due to their invasion in large flocks and their interference with backyard bird feeders. (Source: Our Team)
  • ✅ Starling-proof bird feeders can be used to keep starlings away from bird feeders, but they may also block other feeder birds. (Source: Our Team)
  • ✅ Cage feeders can prevent starlings from accessing the feeder while keeping out similar-sized feeder birds. (Source: Our Team)
  • ✅ Upside-down feeders can be used for suet feeders as starlings and grackles do not like to hang upside down. (Source: Our Team)
  • ✅ Employing seasonal tactics, such as using caged tube feeders in the summer and non-cage feeders in the winter, can help deter starlings. (Source: Our Team)

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I keep starlings out of my bird feeder?

There are several strategies you can try to keep starlings away from your bird feeder. One option is to use starling-proof bird feeders, which are designed to prevent starlings from accessing the feeder while still allowing other birds to feed. Another option is to use a cage feeder, which will also keep out similar-sized feeder birds like cardinals. Upside-down feeders can be used for suet feeders, as starlings and grackles do not like to hang upside down. Employing seasonal tactics, such as using caged tube feeders in the summer and non-cage feeders in the winter, can also help deter starlings. Additionally, removing their nesting options by using birdhouses with entrance holes no larger than 1.5 inches and plugging or covering unintentional holes and cavities can prevent starlings from nesting.

What kind of food do starlings dislike?

Starlings are known to enjoy a variety of foods, including cracked corn, sunflower kernels/chips, suet with corn or peanuts, shelled peanuts, millet, mealworms, and bread or other human food. To discourage starlings, you can offer foods that they don’t prefer, such as whole peanuts in the shell. Starlings have trouble eating foods with a thick outer shell or that require cracking, so providing larger, thick-shelled seeds can be a good deterrent.

Are there any bird deterrents that can help keep starlings away from my feeder?

Yes, there are several bird deterrents you can use to help keep starlings away from your bird feeder. Baffled poles can be installed to prevent starlings from accessing the feeder from below. Clinging birds, such as house sparrows, have a harder time accessing feeder holes with a counter weight attached, which can help deter starlings. Some bird feeders have cage openings that are too small for starlings but still allow smaller birds to access the food. Additionally, there are commercially available bird repellents and scare devices that can be used to deter starlings.

Should I remove all the food sources in my yard to get rid of starlings?

While removing some food sources that starlings enjoy can help deter them, it is not necessary to remove all the food sources in your yard. Instead, focus on offering foods that starlings don’t prefer, such as larger, thick-shelled seeds or suet that is less appealing to them. By managing the foods you offer at your feeders, you can make a big difference in preventing starlings without completely eliminating all food sources in your yard.

What are some common tactics for getting rid of starlings in my backyard?

Common tactics for getting rid of starlings in your backyard include removing their nesting options by using birdhouses with small entrance holes and plugging or covering unintentional holes and cavities. Decreasing nesting spots can deter starlings from taking over your yard. Additionally, using bird deterrents such as baffled poles and cage feeders can help keep starlings away from your bird feeders. If the problem persists, it may be necessary to consult a professional wildlife removal specialist.

Can I use trial and error to find the best strategy for keeping starlings away?

Yes, using trial and error can be an effective way to find the best strategy for keeping starlings away from your bird feeder. Since starlings can be persistent, it may take some experimentation to find the combination of bird feeders, deterrents, and food types that work best in your specific situation. By trying different approaches and observing the results, you can better understand what methods are most effective for keeping starlings at bay.

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.