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, January 4, 2018

Black-colored birds in the yard

I've had several customers come in because they have had a wave a "black" birds make a sudden attack on their feeders. Most blackbirds leave mid-Michigan for warmer temperatures further south. The black-colored birds that are being reported are usually European Starlings. They are year-round residents but aren't seen commonly at the feeder at this time of year because they switch their diet in the winter to mainly fruits, nuts, and berries. During the day you can see them hanging out on wires along the roadside.

After nesting they gather in huge flocks and are hit or miss at the feeders depending on the weather. The extreme cold may have forced them to come to feeders looking for some extra high-energy foods.

To deter starlings you can switch up your bird 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 cardinals, chickadees, finches, doves, woodpeckers, titmice and nuthatches- savor safflower. Blackbirds, starlings, and squirrels typically refuse to eat safflower seed.

or change 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 nyjer thistle seed. 

Related Articles:
- Do birds warm their feet on telephone wires? http://bit.ly/t7k91r
- Fun Facts About European Starlings http://bit.ly/rSQtFD
- How do thousands of European Starlings fly without colliding? http://bit.ly/vwM3Ra
- Amazing moment bald eagle chases down & catches a starling http://bit.ly/tnPo6z
- Starlings stealing shiny money from machine http://bit.ly/uKaP8b

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