About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Keep blackbirds away with your seed selection

The Safflower SolutionIf squirrels drive you nuts or blackbirds and starlings crowd your feeder, you might try the safflower solution.

Safflower is a small, white, bitter seed that is high in protein and fat. Many favorite backyard birds - including cardinals, chickadees, finches, doves, woodpeckers, titmice and nuthatches- savor safflower. Blackbirds, starlings, and squirrels typically refuse to eat safflower seed.
 
Start by offering safflower gradually, mixing it with the seed you currently use. Over time increase the amount of safflower until you are feeding straight safflower. The seed looks and tastes different from other bird seed, so it may take your birds some time to adjust.
 
So if you are overwhelmed by the arrival of hungry blackbirds in the spring, switch to straight safflower seed. And remember that after spring rains, the weather will warm up and the bugs will start hatching. That is when you'll be thankful that these menacing birds patrol your lawn for a variety of creepy crawlies and flying insects.
In the meantime here are 4 ways to reduce the numbers of blackbirds from your feeders:
 
1) Change seed: Take away cracked corn or food scraps, their favorite foods. Switch to an all safflower seed diet for a few weeks. Squirrels, blackbirds, starlings, and crows don’t like safflower. It may take awhile for the other songbirds to accept the change but it is a favorite with cardinals House Finches and chickadees. And gradually the rest of the songbirds will switch over to safflower.

2) Change your bird feeders: Replace platform or hopper feeders with tube feeders, the Squirrel Buster Plus weighted perch feeder, or the upside down suet feeder. If the birds are unable to sit and eat comfortably they will probably move on to easier feeding areas.

3) Keep larger birds away from spilled seed: Since song birds knock seed out of feeders, limit access to spilled seed by placing rocks or shrubs beneath your feeders. Smaller birds will be able to hop in and out of tiny places, unlike big blackbirds.

4) Make the area more desirable for songbirds: Lots of trees will make them feel secure, as will the presence of a constant water source. Blackbirds and Crows prefer the open fields or yards.
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Related Articles:
- What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/nImz5g 
- How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://bit.ly/qizlNh  
- Choosing a seed blend to feed wild birds http://goo.gl/UxhVs
- What is the best bird feeder? http://bit.ly/qVr7i8 

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