They are European Starlings. They are here in mid-Michigan year round but tend to flock and eat fruit and nuts in the winter just like American Robins and Cedar Waxwings instead of coming to feeders regularly.
The European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) molts its feathers in the fall and the new black feathers have tips that are whitish, giving the bird the appearance of “stars” covering their body. Over the winter, sunlight and weather dulls the speckled look and the bird becomes uniform dark brown or black.
Both sexes also have reddish brown legs, and seasonal changes in bill color (yellow in the spring, black in the fall). Males sport a bluish spot at the base of their beaks, while the female displays a reddish pink speck. Juvenile birds are large dull gray or black.
At the end of February the birds begin to look for nesting territories. You may notice that the infrequent visits in the winter increase to overwhelming hoards in the spring. The European Starling is insectivorous when breeding and typically consumes insects including caterpillars, moths, and cicadas, as well as spiders.
Right now they’re all excited! Nesting season is near! Like at a start of a race, there is energy in the air and it feels like it’s going to burst! Unfortunately most of the bugs (their favorite summer food) haven’t appeared yet and in March there are still slim pickings for a lot of birds. So they turn to feasting at your feeders.
- Squirrel Buster Plus- This feeder is guaranteed Squirrel and large bird proof. You can exclude large nuisance birds with this feeder by rolling in the perches to make them short. You can also adjust the tension on the spring mechanism to have the feeder ports shut when large birds land. Blackbirds weigh twice as much as cardinals.
- Upside Down Suet Feeder- a feeder that dispenses suet from the bottom doesn’t phase a woodpecker but will deter most blackbirds.
- Finch Feeders- I’ve never had a problem with the blackbirds on any finch feeders that are filled with straight nyger thistle seed.
- Use pure beef suet with no seeds
- Switch to straight 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. Safflower is a small, white seed that is high in protein and fat. Many favorite backyard birds - including jays, cardinals, chickadees, finches, doves, woodpeckers, titmice and nuthatches- savor safflower. Blackbirds, starlings, and squirrels typically refuse to eat safflower seed.
· What are those birds that sit on the wires? http://bit.ly/y608rz
· Fun Facts About European Starlings http://bit.ly/rSQtFD
· How do thousands of European Starlings fly without colliding? http://bit.ly/vwM3Ra
· What birds like Safflower seed? http://bit.ly/w3ZBGa
· What do grackles eat? http://bit.ly/xBhX3j