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how to get rid of grackles and starlings

Posted by bunnielover (My Page) on
Sat, May 30, 09 at 20:07

I am hoping someone can give me advice on how to get rid of the starlings and grackles in my yard. At first I thought they were cute and didn't mind them but they have chased all the smaller song birds away and empty my feeders daily. I know they are God's creatures and just want a meal too but I am saddened that all the other birds have left. my yard is swarmed with them and even my neighbor is upset with me because he said i have encouraged them by placing all the feeders out. Does anyone have any ideas? Please help. Thanks in advance.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: how to get rid of grackles and starlings

You'll probably have to take down your feeders for a week or so until they leave, then only put up tube feeders with thistle or BOSS and upside down suet feeders. Avoid cheap seed, cracked corn, bread crumbs, or tray feeders, and make sure no dog food is lying around where they can reach it. If any of the Starlings or Grackles start to return take down the food immediately and leave it down even longer.

Rats and cockroaches are God's creatures also but if you leave garbage out you'll attract them and they'll start breeding and taking over, so don't do anything to attract these undesirable birds or they'll do the same and your neighbors won't be able to see any song birds either.

Grackles prey on fledglings and eggs, and Starlings kill nesting rivals

RE: how to get rid of grackles and starlings

Thanks Rachel. I love your example about rats and cockroaches--so true. I took down the feeders and cleaned up the dropped seeds beneath them. I try to never use anything with corn in it and i don't use ground or tray feeders. I put out only blackoil sunflower seeds, sunflower chips, safflower seed, shelled peanuts and thistle. I know this will sound stupid but what is BOSS? Thanks again!!

RE: how to get rid of grackles and starlings

BOSS=Black Oil Sunflower Seed

Grackles, in my area, go after sunflower chips, shelled peanuts and thistle. Starlings will eat just about anything they can get ahold of.

RE: how to get rid of grackles and starlings

It could be that others in your area are feeding cheap foods to attract these birds into your neighborhood, in which case you may have to resort to cage feeders that only let in small birds. Starlings and Grackles can't land as well on tube feeders, so you can use those, but if they do, you may just have to take everything down.
Maybe someone else on this forum has solved the problem.

RE: how to get rid of grackles and starlings

Re: grackles

Until a few years ago I had never seen a grackle in my area... now they are the predominant bird aside from the mourning doves. And the doves just came suddenly a few years ago too as only one pair & now ...!! ... do they come in waves & then leave for another area after a few years? Actually, I do like to watch the antics of those grackles: they grab a chunk of dry dog food, go to the fish pond or bird baths & dunk it up & down like a donut until is is softened to their liking! The (big) babies will sit with mouths open & feathers rumpled & beg for a serving also x the parents. The males strut around with their heads held back, long tail up & go up to another male to try & chase it away. They sure are 'clean' birds as they are forever bathing & splashing in the fish pond & bird baths which I rarely see the other birds do. I do see an occasional robin still & a crow but the sparrows,hummingbirds, mourning doves & finches don't seem to be bothered by them at all. I think our three Min Pin dogs actually are afraid of them though!

RE: how to get rid of grackles and starlings

I also like the grackles and I encourage them to breed here. Grackles eat caterpillars and beetles - we have serious tree defoliation problems here in SE MA due to winter moth and other caterpillars. The oak leaves now are pretty much intact, for which I thank the grackles (and other birds feeding their babies). I expect the birds to earn their food, not just fly around looking pretty.

The grackles show up in early March and most will be gone in a few weeks now that the fledglings are flying around. They can be a nuisance monopolizing the suet feeders, but I love seeing the males puffing up and showing off.

The other birds mostly stay out of the way and still manage to get food to eat. I did once see a pair of cardinals buzz a newly-fledged grackle; I almost heard them giggle as they flew off.

I have no idea where the grackles go now, but go they will soon.


RE: how to get rid of grackles and starlings

I have grackles and red wings bombarding at my place. I have baby House Finch, (one fledged yesterday, two to go)so I'm going to RUN and take in the food for now. Darn.

I guess if you are able to 'like' them, that is the ONLYL answer.

I was going to try a squirt gun again this summer, but .. they'd probably LIKE it.

(Thanks for the reply, Rachel. I've not been here for a long time, but it's GOOD to see you!)

RE: how to get rid of grackles and starlings

I use tube feeders hanging from a double shepherd's-crook. On the ground around the pole, I have wall about 8 inches high and about 7 feet in diameter to contain the fallen seed. (The squirrels and ground-feeding birds tend to swish it around.) When grackles and starlings show up, I put a cover over the "seed circle" (which I made in two semi-circular pieces) for a week or two. The best material for this cover is 1/4-inch wire mesh (called 'hardware cloth'). It must fit snugly so that small birds don't sneak in and get trapped. Click on the picture below for a photo gallery with details:

Back Feeders

Usually, grackles and starlings find it awkward to use the tube feeders. (The shorter the pegs, the better.) But if there are a few that have learned how, I find that a "sparrow spooker" will also deter the grackles and starlings. I make my spookers with stiff wire (rather than string or fish line) hanging vertically around the tube feeders, because the string can tangle, and may even snag a bird. Birds with larger wingspans don't fit between these vertical wires. And house sparrows feel trapped if they can't exit the feeders in any direction; that's how I think they are deterred.

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