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.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

How to keep starlings away from the bird feeders

How do I keep the starlings from devouring all the food when they descend? - Williamston, MI
 
The European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)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.

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.

Unfortunately most of the bugs (their favorite summer food) haven’t appeared yet and March means slim pickings for a lot of birds. So they turn to feasting at your feeders.

While I love all the activity, I know most normal people don’t. So what can you do to deter the starlings and blackbirds, but still attract cardinals, chickadees, finches, and all the other less boisterous backyard birds?

Feeder Choices
  • 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.
Food Choices
  • 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.
Related Articles:
· 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

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