How to Keep Grackles Away from Bird Feeders

Are grackles causing a mess at your bird feeders? They empty the feeders and scare off small birds. This guide will show you ways to keep these bully birds away. From adjusting your feeders to picking the right birdseed, we'll guide you towards a better bird environment.

Grackles are known to be a problem at bird feeders. They eat a lot of food and make a lot of noise. But, you can use various techniques to keep them away. Changing your feeders, using the right seed, and adding bird protection can help you have more bird types visit.

Grackles are smart and big birds with shiny black feathers. They are common in North America, where they can harm crops, especially corn. Taking steps to manage them can protect your local birds and crops.

Remember, laws protect grackles, so it's illegal to harm them. We'll focus on safe and effective ways to handle this bird problem.

When simple tips don’t work, some repellents can. Ultrasonic devices make sounds that grackles don’t like, so they move on. This can help keep your feeders a peaceful place for birds.

It's vital to manage your feeders well to avoid grackle problems and keep smaller birds happy. Knowing grackles' habits helps. For example, using certain types of feeders can make it hard for grackles to get food.

Try using tube feeders that starlings and grackles don't like. Upside-down feeders and low baffles can also help keep them away. This way, you make your feeders less friendly to bully birds.

Using decoy feeders with unpreferred seeds can trick grackles. This can draw them away from your main feeders. It’s a method to make a safer space for other birds.

Picking the correct birdseed is key. Safflower, nyjer/thistle, and suet can keep away problem birds. They also attract a variety of other birds. Choosing the right seed can make a big difference.

It’s not just about feeders; the design of birdhouses matters too. Making the entrance smaller stops grackles from nesting. Also, adding barriers and scary decoys helps keep them off your property.

Avian Control is a liquid that keeps grackles away. It's safe and makes birds avoid the treated areas. This can mean not as many visits from nuisance birds.

Combining these strategies helps create a bird-friendly space without grackles. Aim to protect your feeders and invite other birds over. Don't let grackles spoil the fun of a diverse bird haven in your yard.

Understanding Grackles and Their Behavior

Grackles are medium to large-sized birds with a catchy black look. Their heads shimmer with bluish-purple feathers. They are known for being able to find food anywhere, making them hard to shoo off. You often see them in big, loud groups near food like bird feeders and trash cans.

These birds are smart but pushy, often bothering smaller birds. They steal food and even hurt grown-up birds. They have become a big problem for farmers who grow corn. As a result, there are laws to protect grackles, so we have to use nice ways to keep them off our land.

See also
How High Should a Fence Be to Keep Deer Out

To spot a grackle crowd, look for their unique looks and behaviors. They have shiny black feathers, a long tail, and yellow eyes. You can't miss their bright feathers that look blue or purple. When grackles fly, their wings sound like they're rustling.

Grackles like many kinds of places, from cities to farms to wetlands. They are good at living in different places. They get by so well because they can team up in big groups.

If grackles bother you at home, it's good to know how to make them leave. Things like nets, fake animals, and shiny objects can scare them off. Also, making the area less inviting by changing the plants or cutting trees can help too.

Grackle BehaviorPin

Learning about grackles can help you keep them off your land. Next, we'll look at how changing bird feeders can make a difference.

Modifying Feeders to Deter Grackles

Starlings and grackles often take over bird feeders fast, not leaving much for smaller birds. But, you can change your feeders to keep grackles away. This lets the little birds eat in peace.

Tube Feeders: Choose tube feeders to stop grackles from taking seed. They have small openings, making it hard for grackles to eat. Grackles can't sit easily and eat. This lets smaller, gentler birds use the feeders more.

Upside-Down Feeders: Upside-down feeders were first made for woodpeckers but work well for keeping grackles off, too. Grackles can’t feed while hanging upside down. This gives smaller birds a chance to eat without grackles bothering them.

Low Baffles: Use a low baffle above your feeder to stop grackles. Baffles are like roofs that keep big birds away. The low baffle blocks the way for grackles but not smaller birds. This way, little birds can eat in peace.

Decoy Feeders: A decoy feeder away from the main one can trick grackles. Grackles love to go where there are lots of birds. Place a decoy with cheap seeds away, grackles go to that one, leaving the main food alone.

With these changes, grackles will stay away from your bird feeders. This makes it nicer for smaller birds to come and eat.

Choosing the Right Birdseed to Repel Grackles

Choosing the right birdseed can really help keep grackles away. Some seeds are not liked by these birds and draw in other beautiful bird types. You can make your feeder a spot for many birds by picking the right seeds.

Safflower seed is great for keeping grackles off your feeder. They need strong beaks to open these seeds because of their tough shells. While it keeps grackles away, it brings cardinals, chickadees, and other pretty birds. Safflower is full of protein and fat, perfect for many songbirds.

Nyjer seed, also known as thistle, is another good choice against grackles. Grackles’ and starlings’ beaks are too big for the tiny Nyjer seeds. This makes it a top choice for finches. Nyjer is oily and rich in energy, perfect for small colorful birds.

Plain suet is a good option, too. Grackles are not usually into this high-fat food. By using plain suet, you avoid attracting grackles. Other birds will still like it, though.

Be careful with some seed blends if you don’t want grackles. Sunflower blends and mixes with corn or millet might pull them in. Stick to seeds that grackles don't prefer to welcome a variety of birds.

See also
How to Keep Deer Out of Flower Beds

Choosing the Right Birdseed to Repel GracklesPin

Birdseed Type
Safflower seed
- Difficult for grackles to crack open
- Attracts cardinals, chickadees, doves, grosbeaks, and nuthatches
Nyjer/Thistle seed
- Challenging for grackles to feed on due to their long beaks
- Preferred by finches
Plain suet
- Without mixed blends
- Can deter grackles while attracting other birds

By picking the right seed, you can make a bird paradise without grackles. Try different seeds and see which birds they bring. You'll find the best mix to enjoy the birds in your area.

Modifying Birdhouses to Exclude Grackles

Grackles often take over birdhouses meant for other birds. To keep grackles out, we can modify the birdhouses. One way is to pick birdhouses with small entry holes. For example, wren houses should have holes of 1 1/8" in diameter. Meanwhile, bluebird houses need larger holes, about 1 ½" or 1 9/16", depending on the house.

Another helpful step is to add a predator guard. These guards stop not only predators but also grackles. They are shields made of metal or plastic placed over the entrance hole. This keeps the birdhouse safe from grackle invasions.

Birdhouse Entry Hole Sizes

Birdhouse Type
Entry Hole Size
Wren Houses
1 1/8" diameter
Bluebird Houses
1 ½" or 1 9/16" diameter

By picking the right birdhouses and adding predator guards, grackles can be kept away. This allows other birds to use birdhouses safely.

Aftermarket predator guardPin

Physical and Visual Deterrents for Grackles

Grackles, the plentiful blackbirds, pose a special challenge. To keep grackle numbers in check, using methods that physically and visually deter them is key. This makes your place not as attractive to these birds.

YouTube video

Netting and Mesh

To stop grackles from landing in places like farms or vineyards, try using bird netting and mesh. These stop grackles by creating a barrier. Bird-X has products made just for this, helping to safeguard your area.

Visual Deterrents

Shiny items like foil, CDs, or even scarecrows can make grackles think twice about coming close. These objects disrupt a grackle's flying routine, making their surroundings seem risky. This can discourage them from staying.


Putting up decoy birds of prey, like owls or hawks, can also make a big difference. These fake predators scare grackles away by making them think it's dangerous around your property. This method is popular in places where grackles often damage crops.

To keep grackles at bay, it's recommended to use a combination of both physical and visual methods. From nets to decoys, a varied approach is the best way to manage grackle issues successfully.

Homemade and Commercial Grackle Repellents

There are two types of grackle repellents: homemade and commercial. Both work well to keep grackles away from your property and crops. They are made to respect the law that protects these birds from harm.

Homemade Grackle Repellents

Making your own grackle repellent at home can save money and be safe for the environment. A common homemade spray uses chili peppers. Mix hot pepper flakes or powder with water and a little dish soap. This spray irritates grackles, keeping them away.

You can also use soap water as a repellent. Mix water with a bit of dish soap. This mix makes grackles feel odd when it touches them. It takes away their feather protection and they stay away.

These homemade options are great because they are cheap and do no harm.

See also
How to Keep Dogs from Digging in Flower Beds

Commercial Grackle Repellents

If homemade methods don't work, there are commercial repellents available. These include liquid sprays and devices that make sounds.

Avian Control has a liquid repellent that is effective for two weeks. It is safe for everyone and works well against grackles. This product gives you an easy way to handle grackle issues.

Sound devices are also sold. They play sounds that scare grackles. They work by making the birds feel like they are in danger. This makes them leave your space.

Commercial repellents are good for big grackle issues. They are also handy for grackles that don't go away.

Comparison of Homemade and Commercial Grackle Repellents

Repellent Type
Homemade Grackle Repellents
- Cost-effective

- Environmentally friendly

- Easy to make with household ingredients
- May require more frequent reapplication

- Effectiveness can vary depending on grackle populations
Commercial Grackle Repellents
- Effective and long-lasting results

- Convenient to use

- Safe for birds, plants, animals, and humans
- May involve a higher initial investment

- Requires following product instructions

Homemade and commercial grackle repellents both work well. The best choice depends on what you prefer and how big the grackle problem is.

Make sure homemade repellents use safe ingredients. This is better for birds, plants, and the earth. Commercial products like Avian Control's liquid spray are also safe and effective.

Landscaping and Environmental Modifications

To keep grackles away and protect your bird feeders, think about changing your landscaping. Making some changes can make your place less inviting to grackles. This is a good way to lower their numbers.

Tree Trimming

Trimming trees is a smart move. Grackles usually rest in trees and look for food from there. By tidying up the trees near your home, grackles won't find them as good for hanging out.

Removing Berry-Producing Plants

Grackles love plants that produce berries. These berries are a big part of what they eat. If you cut down or pull out these plants, they’ll have less food and stay away. Plus, it keeps your garden safe.

Try mixing these landscaping tips with other ways to keep grackles off. For example, change your feeders and the type of birdseed you use. Together, these tricks can make your place unattractive to grackles.


To keep grackles and other unwanted birds away from your feeders, you should use a mix of tactics. Adjust your feeders, pick the right birdseed, and set up barriers or visual scare tactics. This helps make your feeding area less attractive for troublesome birds.

Make your feeders harder for grackles to use. You can do this by using specially designed feeders or hanging your feeders upside down. Also, choose birdseed that grackles don't like, such as safflower seed or nyjer/thistle seed. And, put up mesh or netting, or use things like foil strips or scarecrows to keep grackles away.

Staying consistent and using your imagination are important for stopping grackles. Mix different tactics and regularly clean and adjust your feeders. This way, you'll keep unwanted birds away and welcome a variety of enjoyable bird species. Always keep your bird feeders clean and think about how you place them to avoid bird injuries.

By following this advice for bird watching and tackling grackle problems, you can have a great time watching birds. It's possible to enjoy bird watching while keeping grackles and other pesky birds away.

Was This Helpful?
Spring Portal Blog