Starlings and Blackbirds
are Taking Over My Feeders!

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Feeders that leave unwanted birds out at the bottom of this page.

Ken from USA asked:

The Starlings and Blackbirds are taking over my feeders! What can I do?

Tips on How to Get Rid of “Bully” Birds to Free-Up Your Bird Feeders for Songbirds?

Hi Ken

Thank you for asking! This is a huge problem for many people when backyard bird feeding.

It is very discouraging when the European Starlings and Blackbirds decide to make your feeding station their favorite dining spot.

There are other “bully” birds too including Grackles, Pigeons, European Starlings and even House Sparrows.

But there are a few things you can do to hinder their success.

Many of the techniques described here will work for all or some of the “bully” birds listed here, even though this article mostly mentions Starlings and Blackbirds.

This is the Picture You Want to See!

birds bullies push away from feedersMixed Sizes of Wild Birds Eating Peacefully Together
Larger Bullies Scare Smaller BirdsSmall Songbirds Enjoying
With No Bullies

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What Can You do to Prevent Pushy Birds, Like Starlings and Blackbirds, from Taking Over?

Plenty! 6 Things  You Can Do

Use the best bird feeders recommended here for defeating bully birds.

1. Hang feeders with adjustable perches that are triggered by weight. When a heavier bird lands on it the perch drops down locking the seed port from being accessed. The perches can be adjusted to the weight of the bird you want to exclude. The Squirrel Buster or the Yankee Flipper are the most effective of this style of feeder in my experience.

2. Clean out your feeders well and then fill them with safflower seed only. Some birds love safflower, especially Cardinals, Chickadees and Nuthatches, but most birds do not. Including Starlings and some Blackbirds. Keep this up for 2-3 weeks and hopefully the unwanted ones will move on.

3. Use tube feeders which Starlings and Blackbirds cannot sit on. You could put up 2 or 3 offering sunflower seed, nyjer seed and peanuts’n-shell. Just make sure the perches are short enough 1 to 1 1/2-inch-long so that small birds can still use them but the larger birds you do not want cannot sit on them. Wider tube feeders are also better than narrow ones, to prevent them from hanging onto one side and reaching around to eat from the other side.

4. A peanut’n-shell feeder will be successful in leaving out the Starlings as they are not strong enough to crack the shells. And just a caveat, Starlings love bread, doughnuts, muffins or any other baked goods! So keep a table style feeder off on its own to feed this type of food if you wish.

"Bully" birds can be Blue Jays, House Sparrows, Grackles, Pigeons & Cowbirds, not just Starlings & Blackbirds.

5. Stop filling your feeders that the bully birds are visiting for 2-3 weeks and hopefully they will move on to another location. But the draw back to this is of course that you will lose the birds you want to see for a while too. But they will return!

6. Hang a dome baffle over top of a suet feeder. Starlings are reluctant to go under things and will very likely not bother with this feeder while it is under a baffle.

Here is a Plan for a Feeding Station that Will Leave Out Starlings & Blackbirds

  1. If you have a variety of feeders which they cannot easily eat from they may become discouraged and leave your yard. Be selective in what feeders you use and target only the birds you want to see. 

  1. Avoiding mixed seed that includes Milo, a seed Blackbirds love, is a wise choice and will produce happier results.

  2. Use tube feeders for finches with only nyjer seed in it. A special nyjer feeder has very small seed ports made especially for this tiny seed. You can purchase feeders made for nyjer seed that do not have perches, which the Finches cling to.

  3. There are also a variety of feeders for black-oil sunflower seed that are “clinging” feeders which only birds that cling can feed from such as Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Finches etc. Blackbirds and Starlings find these types of feeders more difficult.

  4. In a very clean hopper feeder fill with safflower seed only. Even the slightest smell of peanuts or black-oil sunflower will draw the birds you don't want. The Cardinals, Chickadees and Nuthatches will love it!

  5. Hang any type of feeder in a cage with openings only small birds like Chickadees, Titmice, Finches etc., can fit through. Large Woodpeckers, who you want to see, are still able to reach suet even when in a cage feeder, by using their long beaks and tongues.

  6. An upside down suet feeder will be harder for Starlings and Blackbirds to eat from, but Woodpeckers and Nuthatches will manage it easily. In my experience Blackbirds have no problem gobbling up the suet from this feeder, but it does slow the Starlings down.

cowbirds are bulliesCowbirds Travel In Numbers
bluejay are loud and bigBluejays Are Big & Noisy
red-winged blackbirds visit feedersBlackbirds Visit In Migration
  1. Spread your feeders out rather than clustering all of them together. You will want to keep the feeders that are successful at not allowing the bully birds access, in one location as a bird feeding station. But, then move the others far enough away, each by themselves, out of site from one another if possible. This strategy is for feeders that the bully birds can manage a little or for platform or table style feeders that you want to allow them to partake from.

With a carefully planned strategy you can acheive tranquility at your bird feeders without the bully birds like Starlings and Blackbirds dominating the show.

A Selection of Feeders to Leave Starlings & Blackbirds Out

Thistle Seed Feeders That the "Bullies" Don't Like

Thistle Seed & Finch Mixed Seed
(Finches love mixed seed too, but maybe not quite as much as straight thistle seed.)

My Top Recommendations for Caged Bird Feeders
 To Keep "Bully" Birds Out

   Variety of Caged Feeders Here  

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  • Backyard Predators There are other animals that prey on our songbirds in our backyards. Learn what they are so you can help.
  • Where are they in winter? It can happen any time of year. The birds you were happily feeding all of sudden disappear. What can be done?
  • Bird Feeding Problems Sometimes it seems like there are a lot of problems to overcome when feeding birds in your outdoor space. Find the answers.

Are Rats Your Problem?

  • Rodent Control of Rats This situation calls for strategic and timely action. Learn the steps to achieving rat control.

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