We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.
7240 Kingston Pike,
Knoxville, TN 37919
Phone: (865) 337-5990
Fax: (865) 337-5991
Email: Send Message
Mon - Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun - Sun: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
How Do I Stop Starlings, Grackles, and Blackbirds*?
These species can inundate many a backyard feeder.
Starlings are a non-native species and are not related to our native blackbirds. They are irridescent black with speckles. Their beaks are dark in winter (shown above) and yellow in summer.
Grackles, who are black with a purple-blue sheen to their heads, are our most common blackbirds. Red-winged blackbirds and cowbirds are other native blackbirds who may visit your feeders.
*While not technically correct, all three species are commonly lumped under the term "Blackbird," and for simplicity we will use the term throughout the article unless specific clarification needs to be made.
Starlings' preferred diet consists primarily of insects and berries, but if these are hard to find, they turn to our feeders instead. Their beaks are not designed for cracking hard seed shells, so they go first for the softer suet cakes, peanuts, and other foods without shells. If those aren't available, they will even force themselves to eat hard shelled seeds. Fortunately, we do have a few tricks to eliminate Starlings from some feeders, and to slow them down at others, so your other birds can get their share of food, too.
The other blackbirds are more traditional seed eaters. They are less likely to bother suet, unless it is of poor quality (ie, filled with seeds or grains), but will devour most common seeds readily.
The most effective way to avoid losing all your birdfood to blackbirds is to physically prevent them from gaining access to the food. These birds are simply too large to fit through the openings of the cages that surround the feeders below, yet smaller birds fly right through the openings in much the same way as they would fly through a fence or navigate in the dense branches of a bush.
Even the larger woodpeckers can still feed thanks to their long necks, prying beaks, and agile tongues, which can stretch to obtain food.
These cages will also stop squirrels and quickly pay for themselves in terms of food saved.
Suet Feeders with GuardsThese feeders each hold two suet cakes.
Two Downy Woodpeckers demonstrate.
On-Guard Peanut Feeder ProtectorFits over mesh peanut feeders to protect peanut pieces or Bark Butter Bits.
On-Guard for Cylinder Feeders or Dinner Bell FeedersA Carolina Wren dines on a protected Cranberry Fare Cylinder.
On-Guard for Tube Feeders
Because No-Mess Blend and other blends containing shell-free seeds are easier for starlings to eat, guards to protect tube feeders in which they are served are beneficial. This guards is actually the same guard as for the peanut feeder, and fits over most our of WBU tube feeders, making it versatile should your needs change.
Slow Them Down
There are a few feeders worth mentioning that starlings can use, but which are challenging enough that the starlings may not completely dominate.
Upside Down Suet Feeder
Squirrel-Proof with Adjustable Baffle
BIRD TIP : Never offer bread, pizza crusts, or other similar foods. Few songbirds will eat them, yet these soft foods are extremely palatable to starlings and will act like a magnet, drawing every starling in the neighborhood.
Let Us Help
We hope you've found these tips and tricks useful for helping discourage blackbirds in your backyard. For more information, stop by Wild Birds Unlimited and we'll be happy to discuss the particulars of your backyard and help you create a plan to encourage the birds you want, while discouraging the ones you don't.