How to Keep Starlings Out of Bird Feeders

Dealing with starlings in your bird feeders is a common issue for many. These birds can scare off other desired species. They can also quickly empty your feeder. But, there are ways to keep your feeders safe and welcoming to all birds.

Wondering how to give your feathered friends a fair shot at the food? We'll cover some key methods to keep starlings away. By following these tips, you can make your feeders less attractive to starlings.

Suet: Keep Starlings Off Suet Feeders

Starlings just love suet feeders and often take over the food. To fight this, you can try a few tricks to protect the feed for other birds.

Choose Starling-Proof Suet Feeders

Look into suet feeders that are hard for starlings to use. Feeders that hang upside-down or have a protective cage can work well. An upside-down design keeps starlings off by making it tough for them to sit. Cage feeders let smaller birds enjoy the suet safely. The Erva Starling Proof Suet Feeder is one example that works great.

Deter Starlings with Different Types of Suet

Starlings like certain suet with things like cracked corn or peanut chips. To keep them away, choose suet that is not as tasty to them. Pick suet cakes with ingredients that starlings don't enjoy. This will open up the suet for other birds to eat without any trouble.

Types of Suet
Effectiveness in Deterring Starlings
Traditional Suet Cakes
Attractive to starlings; they may dominate the feeder
Insect or Berry Blend Suet Cakes
Less attractive to starlings; encourages other bird species
Hot Pepper Suet
Starlings dislike the spice; effective in deterring them

It's quick for birds to get used to changes in feeders, often within half a minute. Figuring out the best suet and feeder mix might take a few tries. Remember, these methods can slow starlings down but not always stop them, because they are quite determined to find food.

Seed: Keep Starlings From Dominating Seed Feeders

Starlings love to take over seed feeders, making a mess. They scare off smaller birds. Luckily, there are ways to protect your feeder and welcome the little guys. A key way is to use starling-proof seed feeders.

These feeders have special features to keep starlings out. Yet, they let smaller birds in. For example, you can pick feeders with narrow openings.

Starlings can't reach far into these feeders. But tits and sparrows can, thanks to their shorter beaks.

Alternatively, you can go for feeders that have cages. Caged feeders stop starlings from getting to the seed. They also let smaller birds eat in peace.

See also
How to Naturally Treat Brown Spot on Plants

It helps to adjust how you fill platform and hopper feeders too. Try not to leave too much seed out at once. This slows starlings down and makes them less interested.

Another trick is to spread seed in different spots around your garden. This gives shy birds a chance to eat. It also makes it harder for starlings to take over all the feeding spots.

So, by using starling-proof seed feeders and being smart about feeding plants, you can enjoy a bird-filled garden. These steps help create a space where many bird species can live together.

Mealworms: Keep Starlings From Eating All the Mealworms

Starlings are really good at getting to suet, seeds, and mealworms. They eat the mealworms fast, leaving little for other birds. Using feeders that starlings can't get into is a good way to keep them from eating all the mealworms.

Consider Erva’s Starling-Proof Mealworm Feeder. It stops starlings and lets bluebirds and other species eat. This feeder's smart design keeps unwanted visitors away. It makes sure only the birds you want can snack on the mealworms.

These feeders help to make sure all types of birds get to enjoy the mealworms. It's a fair way to deal with the problem of one bird species hogging all the food. This way, you get to see more kinds of birds at your feeders.

Using different foods and the right feeders makes bird-watching better. With starling-proof feeders, you'll see more birds without the issue of starlings.

Starlings as Part of Mixed “Blackbird” Flocks

In winter and early spring, European Starlings join mixed "blackbird" flocks. They often take over bird feeders, making other birds leave. To keep a variety of birds around, you must find ways to keep starlings at bay.

To discourage starlings, change the seed you use. Starlings like sunflower and safflower seeds. If you switch to seeds they find hard to open, like sunflower, you may see fewer starlings.

Using special feeders can also help. Feeders made to keep starlings out have small openings. This stops the bigger birds from eating but lets smaller ones in. Or, try putting seed in a feeder that starlings can't reach.

Starlings really like platform and hopper feeders. If you have those, use these tactics to encourage more bird variety. This will make your bird-watching more interesting.

Deterrent Strategies
Switching to sunflower seeds and safflower seeds
Can potentially decrease presence of blackbirds, including starlings
Using starling-proof seed feeders
Makes it challenging for starlings to access seed
Placing seed deep inside a cage feeder
Prevents starlings from accessing seed

Managing Expectations

Trying to keep starlings away from bird feeders is crucial. But, we must know that getting rid of all starlings might not happen. Starlings are clever and will work hard to find food, even with deterrents.

Using strong methods to control starlings can help. This way, they won't bother other bird species as much. It allows diverse birds to enjoy the feeder's food too.

See also
When to Apply Weed Killer in Spring

It's smart to aim for realistic results in keeping starlings in check. You won't stop them completely, but you can greatly decrease their troubles. This way, bird lovers can keep seeing many types of birds and handle starlings better.

Technical Considerations

When dealing with starlings, the type of bird feeder matters a lot. Picking feeders that are hard for starlings to use is helpful. This includes feeders like hung upside-down, caged, or with narrow openings, which make it tough for starlings to eat.

It's also a good idea to change how seed feeders work. Making platform and hopper feeders less accessible to starlings is important. Using specific seed feeders, like those with narrow ports or cages, can keep starlings away from seed. This still lets smaller birds enjoy the seeds.

Ethical and Ecological Considerations

Dealing with starlings at feeders is important, but so is understanding the bigger picture. Bird feeders help birds in a changed world by offering extra food. But, we must think about the effect this has on natural bird interactions. Finding a balance is key for both bird care and managing problem birds.

Stephen W. Kress from the National Audubon Society thinks bird feeding has benefits for people more than for birds. It's about managing all bird species in a way that's best for each. This approach can guide us in handling issues with starlings.

Pigeons: A Different Challenge

Pigeons pose a special challenge at bird feeders. These city birds are adaptable and persistent, making them hard to keep away. Yet, there are ways to prevent pigeons from dominating the feeding area.

One good way is to use feeders that don't let pigeons in. Caged feeders with small openings are great for this. They let small birds eat while keeping pigeons out by using mesh or wire.

Using feeders with technology that blocks heavy birds is also a smart move. These feeders close off when something too heavy lands on them. It means pigeons can't get to the food.

By selecting these types of feeders, you can greatly cut down on pigeons. This makes the area more attractive to other birds you may prefer. Remember, patience is crucial. Pigeons might keep trying for a while, but they will eventually give up.

If pigeons keep coming back, think about adding more obstacles. Things like bird spikes or netting can keep pigeons from landing. This will make it harder for them to use the feeders.

With the right approach and feeders, you can keep pigeon troubles at bay. This will help you enjoy a variety of bird species more in the area.

Blue Jays: Appetite and Aggression

Blue Jays love to eat and sometimes act mean. They might scare off smaller birds at bird feeders. These birds stand out with their bright blue colors and pointy crests. Yet, there are ways to keep them away from your feeders.

Using feeders made for little birds can help. Blue Jays find it hard to eat from feeders with tiny openings. This stops them from taking all the food.

See also
How to Keep Black Birds Away from Bird Feeder

Also, think about the seeds you put out. Blue Jays really like sunflower seeds and peanuts. If you don't use mixes with these, you might see more different birds at your feeder.

Research shows some interesting bird feeder stories. Even though Blue Jays bully small birds, they don't always win. Sometimes, a bird like the Red-bellied Woodpecker can beat them at the feeder.

Watching how birds behave near feeders can be quite lively. Birds tease and show off to each other, trying to be the boss. This shows why it's key to have food for all birds, not just one type.

Bird Species
Blue Jay
Occasionally aggressive
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Tenacious and dominant

Stop Blue Jays to let other birds feel welcome at your feeder. It's fun to watch how birds share and compete for food. A well-planned feeder can become a favorite spot for many types of birds.

Nesting Concerns

Dealing with starlings means worrying about them taking over homes of other birds. They often use nest boxes meant for different birds. But, there are ways to keep them out of bird houses.

  1. Smaller Entrance Holes: Starlings need a 1.5" hole in a birdhouse to get in. You can stop them by making the hole smaller, about 1.25" or even 1" wide. This change keeps starlings out but lets smaller bird types in.
  2. Perch Removal: Starlings use perches to get into bird houses easily. Removing them or shortening them makes it harder for starlings to enter. It’s a simple way to keep starlings away from your bird house.
  3. Metal Portal Guards: Metal guards at the entrance of bird houses can stop starlings. You can use a metal plate with a small hole or a cylinder around the entrance. The metal is hard for starlings to grip, and they can't make the hole bigger to fit through.

Using these strategies can keep starlings out of your bird houses. This helps protect homes for other bird species.


If you work hard to keep starlings out of your bird feeders, you'll make it nicer for other birds. You won't get rid of all starlings, but you can use strategies to lessen their effect. This way, more of the birds you love can visit your feeders.

One method is to use upside-down suet feeders. These are tough for starlings to eat from. Also, pick suet flavors that starlings don't like. For seed feeders, choose those with small openings or add cages. This lets only smaller birds get the seeds.

Remember, you might not be able to get rid of all starlings. But the key is to make sure your favorite birds still find their way to your feeders. Follow these tips to make a good home for many birds and reduce starlings' effect.

Was This Helpful?
Spring Portal Blog