How To Save Bird Feeder From Starlings

How To Save Bird Feeder From Starlings

When it comes to bird feeders, starlings can often become a nuisance. These invasive bird species, originally native to Europe and parts of Asia, have proliferated in North America and pose a challenge for bird enthusiasts. To effectively save your bird feeder from starlings, it is essential to understand their behavior and implement appropriate strategies.

In this article, we will delve into the world of starlings, explore why they are a problem for bird feeders, and identify the signs that indicate starlings are taking over your bird feeder. We will then provide you with practical ways to prevent starlings from dominating your feeder, such as modifying the feeder design, using squirrel-proof feeders, implementing physical barriers, and using specialized starling-proof feeders. We will discuss attracting other bird species, deterring starlings with distractions, and creating a separate feeding area for starlings.

To ensure successful bird feeding while considering starlings, we will also outline best practices such as regularly cleaning and maintaining the bird feeder, offering a variety of bird food to attract specific species, and monitoring the feeding area.

By understanding starlings and implementing effective strategies, you can create a welcoming bird feeding environment while minimizing the impact of starlings on your feeder. Let’s get started on saving your bird feeder from starlings!

Key takeaway:

  • Modify the bird feeder design: By making specific modifications to the design, such as adding wire mesh or adjusting the size of feeding ports, you can discourage starlings from accessing the bird feeder.
  • Use specialized starling-proof feeders: Invest in bird feeders specifically designed to deter starlings, such as those with weight-sensitive perches that close off access to larger birds like starlings.
  • Create a separate feeding area for starlings: By offering alternative food sources like suet or mealworms in a separate location, you can attract starlings away from your main bird feeder and protect it for other bird species.

Understanding Starlings

Understanding Starlings is key when it comes to managing bird feeders and promoting diversity among bird species. Starlings are highly social birds that belong to the family Sturnidae. They are known for their flocking behavior and their impressive ability to mimic various sounds and calls.

One important aspect of Understanding Starlings is their diverse diet. These omnivorous birds primarily feed on fruits, insects, and seeds. However, they are not limited to these food sources and can also consume small vertebrates and even garbage.

Another crucial aspect to consider in Understanding Starlings is their aggressive behavior. When it comes to food sources, starlings can be quite territorial and monopolize bird feeders, leading to the intimidation and displacement of other bird species. This can result in a decrease in diversity and variety at your feeder.

Nesting habits are also a significant aspect of Understanding Starlings. They are cavity nesters and tend to form large colonies. Consequently, they have the potential to take over nesting sites, whether they are natural cavities, nest boxes, or even holes in buildings.

Furthermore, starlings have remarkable vocalizations. They are excellent mimics and can imitate various sounds, including the calls of other bird species, human speech, and even mechanical noises.

It is important to note that many starling populations are migratory, as mentioned in the context of Understanding Starlings. They often relocate to more favorable locations during different seasons.

By fully Understanding Starlings, bird enthusiasts can develop effective strategies to manage their bird feeders. This will help create an environment that encourages diversity and shared access to food resources among different bird species.

What are Starlings?

Starlings are a type of bird commonly found in North America. They are known for their glossy black feathers with iridescent accents and their ability to mimic other bird calls. Starlings are highly social birds and often gather in large flocks, sometimes numbering in the thousands.

These birds can be quite adaptable and can thrive in a variety of environments, including urban areas. Starlings have an insatiable appetite and will eat a wide range of foods, including insects, fruits, and seeds. What are Starlings? They are known to be aggressive towards other bird species, often displacing them from feeding areas.

One of the reasons starlings can be a problem for bird feeders is their ability to quickly take over the feeding area. They are often attracted to seed feeders and can scare away smaller birds with their aggressive behavior. They have strong beaks that can crack open hard shells, allowing them to access a variety of seeds.

To manage starlings at bird feeders, various strategies can be employed. These include modifying the bird feeder design to exclude larger birds, using specialized starling-proof feeders, and implementing physical barriers such as baffled poles. Another tactic is to attract other bird species that are less attractive to starlings by offering a variety of bird food.

Understanding starlings and their behavior is important when trying to save bird feeders from their dominance. By employing different tactics and managing expectations, it is possible to coexist with starlings and still enjoy bird feeding.

Why are Starlings a Problem for Bird Feeders?

Starlings can be a significant problem for bird feeders due to their aggressive behavior and insatiable appetites. Why are Starlings a Problem for Bird Feeders? Here are reasons why starlings pose a challenge for bird feeders:

1. Starling Flocks: Starlings often travel in large flocks, which can overwhelm bird feeders and scare away other smaller bird species. Their sheer numbers can lead to the depletion of food sources quickly.

2. Competitive Nature: Starlings are known to be dominant and territorial when it comes to food. They will aggressively push smaller birds aside and monopolize the feeder, denying other species access to food.

3. Seed Wastage: Starlings have a habit of wasting bird seeds. They often pick through the seeds, discarding unwanted ones on the ground, which can attract unwanted pests and create a mess around the feeder area.

4. Nesting Habits: Starlings are cavity nesters and may take over birdhouses or nesting boxes, evicting other native birds and reducing nesting options for them.

To effectively deal with the problem of starlings at bird feeders, it is essential to employ strategies that deter them while still attracting a variety of other bird species. Implementing physical barriers, using specialized starling-proof feeders, and attracting other bird species can help manage the starling population and create a more diverse bird feeding experience.

Pro tip: Consider using safflower seeds in your bird feeders. Starlings tend to dislike this type of seed, while it remains popular among many other smaller songbirds.

Signs That Starlings Are Taking Over Your Bird Feeder

There are several signs that starlings are taking over your bird feeder:

  • Large numbers: If you see a sudden increase in the number of birds at your feeder, especially if it’s mostly starlings, it could be a sign that they are dominating the feeding area.
  • Aggressive behavior: Starlings are known for their aggressive behavior at bird feeders. If you observe them chasing away other birds or monopolizing the food, it’s a clear indication of their presence.
  • Empty feeder: If your bird feeder is consistently empty, despite regular refilling, starlings may be consuming all the food before other birds have a chance to feed.
  • Messy surroundings: Starlings are messy eaters and tend to scatter food all around the feeder. If you notice a lot of food debris on the ground, it could be a sign that starlings are dominating the feeder.
  • Lack of diversity: Starlings prefer certain types of food, such as suet and large seeds. If you notice a decline in the variety of birds visiting your feeder, with only starlings present, it indicates their domination.

If you identify these signs, it may be necessary to take measures to deter starlings and create a more welcoming environment for other bird species.

Ways to Save Bird Feeder from Starlings

Looking to protect your bird feeder from those pesky starlings? Look no further! In this section, we’ll explore a variety of effective ways to thwart starlings and keep your feathered friends happy. From modifying the feeder design to implementing physical barriers, using squirrel-proof feeders, and even attracting other bird species, we’ve got you covered. With these techniques up your sleeve, you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty and wonder of a bird-filled garden without the nuisance of starlings hogging the feeder. Let’s dive in!

Modify the Bird Feeder Design

To modify the bird feeder design in order to deter starlings, follow these steps:

  1. Make the feeding ports smaller: By reducing the size of the feeding ports, you can effectively exclude larger birds such as starlings while still allowing access for smaller birds.
  2. Add cage attachments: Attach a wire mesh cage around the feeder to create a barrier that only small birds can fit through. This will effectively prevent starlings from reaching the food.
  3. Use weighted perches: Install perches that are specifically designed to support the weight of smaller birds but collapse under the weight of heavier birds like starlings. This will effectively prevent starlings from perching and accessing the food.
  4. Include an adjustable closing mechanism: Install a mechanism that automatically closes the feeding ports when a heavier bird like a starling lands on the perch. This prevents starlings from accessing the food while still allowing smaller birds to feed.
  5. Apply a bitter taste aversion: Coat the feeding ports with a non-toxic bitter substance that can effectively discourage starlings from attempting to feed from the bird feeder.

By implementing these techniques to modify the bird feeder design, you can successfully deter starlings and create a feeding environment that is exclusive to smaller bird species.

Use Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeders

  1. When looking to protect your bird feeder from starlings, it is recommended to use squirrel-proof bird feeders. These specialized feeders are designed to prevent access by squirrels and larger birds, allowing smaller birds to feed without disturbance.
  2. As you choose a squirrel-proof bird feeder, opt for one that features metal or wire cages around the feeding ports. These cages permit access to the food for smaller birds with narrow beaks while effectively keeping out larger birds such as starlings.
  3. Another important feature to consider in squirrel-proof bird feeders is adjustable perches that close off the feeding ports when heavier birds or squirrels land on them. This mechanism ensures that only smaller birds can access the bird food, preventing larger birds from consuming it.
  4. Weight-activated squirrel-proof feeders are also worth considering. These feeders are designed to close off the feeding ports when a squirrel or a heavy bird lands on them, effectively denying them access to the food.
  5. To further enhance the protection of your bird feeder, it is recommended to place it in a location that is difficult for squirrels to reach. You can hang the feeder from a tree branch or use a pole-mounted feeder with a baffle that prevents squirrels from climbing up.

By utilizing squirrel-proof bird feeders, you can ensure that smaller birds can enjoy the bird food undisturbed by starlings and other larger birds. Protecting your bird feeder creates a welcoming environment for a diverse range of bird species in your backyard.

Fun Fact: Starlings are renowned for their synchronized flight patterns, which result in mesmerizing aerial displays. However, their feeding behaviors can lead to dominance at bird feeders. This is why squirrel-proof feeders are an essential tool for managing bird feeding.

Implement Physical Barriers

To prevent starlings from taking over your bird feeder, you can incorporate physical barriers. Here are some natural steps you can follow:

  1. Utilize cage feeders: These feeders have wire or mesh cages surrounding the feeding ports, enabling smaller birds to enter while keeping starlings out.
  2. Install baffled poles: Baffles are cone-shaped devices that you can place on poles or hanging feeders to block starlings from reaching the food.
  3. Experiment with upside-down feeders: Starlings find it difficult to feed upside-down, so using feeders specifically designed for this purpose can discourage them.
  4. Apply entrance hole size restrictions: As starlings are larger birds, using feeders with smaller entrance holes can prevent them from accessing the food.
  5. Create a separate feeding area for starlings: Set up a distinct feeding station with food that starlings prefer, such as suet or cracked corn. This diversion can shift their attention away from your main bird feeder.
  6. Exclude larger birds: If starlings are not the only larger birds causing trouble, consider choosing feeders designed to exclude species like cardinals or blue jays.

By incorporating physical barriers, you can effectively deter starlings from taking over your bird feeder and ensure that smaller birds can freely enjoy the food you provide.

Use Specialized Starling-Proof Feeders

Using specialized starling-proof feeders can help prevent starlings from taking over your bird feeder. To effectively use these feeders, follow these steps:

  1. Select a starling-proof feeder that is specifically designed to deter starlings. Choose one with smaller entrance holes or perches that are difficult for starlings to access.
  2. Place the starling-proof feeder in a location where other bird species can easily reach it, while making it difficult for starlings. This will attract a variety of bird species while discouraging starlings.
  3. Maintain and clean the starling-proof feeder regularly. This will prevent the buildup of mold, bacteria, and pests, which can deter other bird species.
  4. Offer a diverse selection of bird food in the starling-proof feeder. Different bird species have different preferences, so providing a variety of seeds, suet, and other bird food will attract a wider range of birds.
  5. Monitor the feeding area to ensure starlings are not causing problems. If starlings are still accessing the feeder, consider using additional deterrents like hanging strips of aluminum foil or using noise devices to scare them away.

By following these steps and using specialized starling-proof feeders, you can create a bird feeding environment that is more welcoming to a variety of bird species while minimizing the presence of starlings.

Attract Other Bird Species

To attract other bird species to your bird feeder, follow these tips:

  1. Provide a variety of bird food:
    • Offer different types of seeds, such as sunflower kernels/chips and safflower seeds, to attract a wider range of birds and attract other bird species.
    • Include cracked corn and peanut chips to specifically attract birds with soft beaks and appeal to other bird species.
    • Use a seed mix that is known to attract a diverse group of bird species and help attract other bird species.
  2. Include a variety of feeders:
    • Use a tube feeder that allows birds to cling onto it, as this attracts species like chickadees and nuthatches and helps attract other bird species.
    • Install an upside-down suet feeder to attract birds that are comfortable feeding in this position and attract other bird species accordingly.
    • Consider using a cage suet feeder to exclude larger birds and focus on attracting smaller species, thus increasing the chance to attract other bird species.
  3. Create a diverse feeding environment:
    • Ensure there are plenty of food and water sources in the area, such as bird baths and native plants that produce berries or seeds, to attract other bird species.
    • Offer nesting options, such as birdhouses, to encourage birds to stay in your yard and attract other bird species.
    • Manage your expectations and accept that certain bird species may be more dominant in the area, but continue to provide a welcoming environment for a range of species to attract other bird species.

Deter Starlings with Distractions

To deter starlings with distractions from your bird feeder, you can employ several techniques to make them less interested in the area.

  1. Add noisy objects near the feeder, such as wind chimes or bells, to startle the starlings and deter them.
  2. To create reflections and movement that can deter starlings, hang shiny objects like CDs or aluminum foil strips around the feeding area.
  3. Draw their attention elsewhere by installing a birdbath or a separate water source away from the feeder.
  4. Divert starlings’ attention by planting native vegetation around the feeder, providing natural food sources for other bird species.
  5. Lure starlings away from the main feeder by offering alternative food sources specifically attractive to them, such as suet cakes or cracked corn.
  6. Make it difficult for starlings to access the feeder by using a bird feeder with adjustable perches or entrances that exclude larger birds.
  7. Starlings have difficulty feeding in the upside-down position, so employ a feeder with an upside-down design.
  8. Avoid attracting starlings with easy food sources by disposing of fallen seeds and keeping the area clean.
  9. Prevent starlings from specializing and dominating the feeder by regularly rotating the types of bird food you offer.
  10. Make the feeder less desirable for starlings by regularly changing its location and disrupting their feeding patterns.

Create a Separate Feeding Area for Starlings

To create a dedicated feeding area specifically for starlings, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a location away from other bird feeders and birdhouses.
  2. Set up a separate feeding station exclusively for starlings.
  3. Utilize feeders designed specifically for starlings, such as cage feeders or starling-proof feeders.
  4. Fill the feeders with seed mix that appeals to starlings, such as cracked corn or peanut chips.
  5. Position the feeders at a suitable height and location that is easily accessible for starlings.
  6. Ensure the feeders are placed far from areas where other bird species, such as small songbirds, commonly visit.
  7. Regularly monitor the feeding area to discourage larger birds and attract starlings.
  8. Keep in mind that starlings may still visit other feeders or compete with smaller birds for food.
  9. Ensure there is an ample supply of food and water sources in the separate feeding area to satisfy starlings.
  10. Regularly clean and maintain the starling feeding station to prevent the potential spread of diseases.

Best Practices for Bird Feeding with Starlings in Mind

When it comes to bird feeding, dealing with starlings can be a challenge. In this section, we’ll explore the best practices to save your bird feeder from these persistent birds. From regularly cleaning and maintaining the feeder to offering a variety of bird food, we’ll discover effective ways to deter starlings while still attracting other beautiful species. We’ll discuss the importance of monitoring the feeding area to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for all feathered friends.

Regularly Clean and Maintain the Bird Feeder

To ensure the optimal functioning of your bird feeder and the health of the bird visitors, it is essential to regularly clean and maintain the feeder. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Empty the feeder: Start by regularly emptying all the remaining seed or food from the feeder. Dispose of any spoiled or moldy food.
  2. Disassemble the feeder: Regularly take apart the different components of the feeder, such as the trays, perches, and roof. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions if available.
  3. Clean with mild detergent: Regularly use a mild detergent and warm water to regularly wash all the parts of the feeder. Regularly scrub the surfaces well to remove any dirt, debris, or bird droppings. Ensure that all corners, crevices, and feeding ports are thoroughly cleaned.
  4. Rinse thoroughly: Regularly rinse all the parts of the feeder with clean water to remove any soap residue.
  5. Dry completely: Regularly allow all the washed components of the feeder to air dry completely before reassembling. Moisture can promote the growth of bacteria or mold, which can harm the birds.
  6. Inspect for damage: While regularly cleaning, regularly inspect all parts of the feeder for any signs of wear, damage, or loose screws. Replace or repair any damaged components to maintain the feeder’s integrity.
  7. Refill with fresh seed or food: Once the feeder is completely dry and reassembled, regularly refill it with fresh seed or food that is appropriate for the bird species you want to attract.

By regularly following these steps and regularly cleaning and maintaining your bird feeder, you can create a clean and safe feeding environment for the birds, ensuring their well-being and providing you with the joy of birdwatching.

Offer a Variety of Bird Food

To attract a diverse range of bird species to your feeder, it’s crucial to offer a variety of bird food. By providing a mix of seeds such as sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and safflower seeds, you accommodate different birds with their unique preferences and diets. This increases the chances of attracting a wider range of species. Suet is another great option as it is a high-energy food that insect-eating birds like woodpeckers and nuthatches find particularly appealing. By offering different flavors of suet, such as peanut or fruit, you can entice a variety of species. Additionally, many birds enjoy fruits and berries, so adding fresh or dried fruit to your feeder can be attractive to species like thrushes, orioles, and waxwings. If you’re aiming to attract hummingbirds, it’s essential to provide a nectar feeder filled with a sugar-water solution, as they primarily feed on nectar. Insects are also a valuable source of food for certain birds like bluebirds and warblers. Consider offering live or dried mealworms to specifically attract these species.

Offering a variety of bird food not only increases the number of bird species you are likely to attract but also provides a more balanced diet for the birds that visit your feeder. Remember to regularly clean and maintain the bird feeder to ensure the food remains fresh and uncontaminated.

Monitor the Feeding Area

To ensure that the smaller birds are not dominated by the starlings, it is crucial to regularly monitor the feeding area.

  • Take the time to observe the feeding area on a regular basis to detect any indication of starlings taking over. This could include witnessing large flocks of starlings crowding the feeder, observing aggressive behavior towards other birds, or noticing that the food disappears too quickly.
  • Pay attention to any changes in bird behavior or the diversity of bird species visiting the feeder. If you observe a decline in the variety of birds or a significant increase in starlings, this may be an indication that the starlings are dominating the feeding area.
  • Consider setting up multiple feeders in different parts of your yard to distribute the feeding locations. This can help prevent a single feeder from being overwhelmed by starlings and create additional opportunities for smaller birds to feed undisturbed.
  • You can also try using feeders that are designed to be starling-proof. These feeders have small entrance holes that only allow smaller birds to access the food.
  • Another option is to use feeders that require birds to feed while hanging upside down, as starlings are not as skilled at this feeding position.
  • Make sure to regularly remove any spilled food or debris from the feeding area to discourage starlings from congregating in that specific location.

History tells us that starlings were introduced to North America in the late 19th century with the goal of bringing over all the bird species mentioned in the plays of William Shakespeare. Sadly, the starlings quickly multiplied and became an invasive species, causing issues for native bird species and the agricultural industry. Today, bird enthusiasts continue to face the challenge of managing starlings at their bird feeders to ensure a diverse and healthy bird population. By monitoring the feeding area and implementing strategies to deter starlings, backyard bird lovers can create a more welcoming environment for a variety of bird species to enjoy.

Some Facts About How To Save Bird Feeder From Starlings:

  • ✅ Starling-proof bird feeders, such as the squirrel buster, can help keep starlings away from bird feeders. (Source: Bird Feeder Hub)
  • ✅ Tube feeders with a cage around them can prevent starlings from accessing the openings. (Source: Bird Feeder Hub)
  • ✅ Upside down feeders, like the Audubon bottom feeder, can deter starlings and grackles from accessing suet cakes. (Source: Bird Feeder Hub)
  • ✅ Using feeders designed to exclude larger birds and switching to specific types of seeds can help deter invasive species like European Starlings and House Sparrows. (Source: All About Birds)
  • ✅ Hanging mylar balloons filled with helium and closing off access with mesh are methods to discourage starlings from nesting in or around your home. (Source: All About Birds)

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I save my bird feeder from starlings?

To save your bird feeder from starlings, you can try using starling-proof bird feeders like the squirrel buster or tube feeders with a cage around them. Changing the types of feeders seasonally, removing nesting options for starlings, and taking away their food and water sources can also be effective strategies.

2. Are there specific feeders designed for smaller birds that can help deter starlings?

Yes, there are feeders designed for smaller birds that can deter starlings. Look for feeders that exclude larger birds, like blue jays, and attract smaller birds instead. These feeders usually have smaller openings or mechanisms that close off the food source when heavy birds land on the perch.

3. How can I get rid of European starlings from my backyard bird feeders?

To get rid of European starlings from your backyard bird feeders, you can try using starling-proof feeders, changing the types of feeders seasonally, removing their nesting options, and taking away their food and water sources. Additionally, offering food options that they dislike, like safflower or nyjer seeds, can help limit their access to food.

4. What can I do to deter blackbirds and grackles from my bird feeders?

To deter blackbirds and grackles from your bird feeders, you can use seed mixes that are less attractive to these birds, switch to sunflower or safflower seeds with thick shells, and consider using nyjer seed in a tube feeder. These birds are typically temporary visitors and may be deterred with these strategies.

5. How can I discourage house sparrows from my bird feeders?

House sparrows can be harder to discourage due to their similar size to desirable birds. Some techniques include temporarily removing feeders, keeping food off the ground, and switching to nyjer seed in a tube feeder. Closing off access with mesh or other barriers can also help prevent them from nesting near your home.

6. Where can I find more information on bird feeders and bird feeding?

For more in-depth discussions and valuable information on bird feeders and bird feeding, you can visit resources like and All About Birds is a free resource funded by donors, offering information on a variety of bird species, types of feeders, and types of food. Project FeederWatch is another great resource that provides valuable insights into common feeder birds and strategies to attract and discourage specific species.

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.