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How to keep starlings from taking over your bird feeders

It’s starting. That time when the skies begin turning black, not from the pre-winter clouds, but from thousands of starlings flocking together.

Even though watching them weave and undulate in perfect unison offers a simply amazing view, starlings are known for their ravenous behavior and consumption of nearly any food they see. Many people are of the belief that there is no such thing as a “pest bird,” but starlings and pigeons are close to claiming those titles in many people’s eyes.

If you’re not familiar with the history of the starling, it is actually a non-native species from Europe (hence the name European Starling). There are an estimated 200 million starlings in the United States and all of them descended from about 60 to 100 that were released in Central Park in the late 19th Century in an attempt to introduce all birds named in Shakespeare’s plays. They’ve since become invasive and damaging to crops.

This brings us to our main topic: how do you stop them from taking over your bird feeders. Starlings and other unwanted birds can take your feeder from full to empty in no time. Here are a few suggestions on how to discourage starlings from eating all your food.

1. Put cages around your feeders

Whether you have a hopper feeder or seed feeder, you can control the size of the bird you want eating from it by creating a cage around it. Make the holes big enough to allow smaller birds in and keep larger ones out.

2. Get a feeder with a weighted perch

This is a similar solution to the above one. There are certain types of hopper feeders that close up when a bird that’s heavier than your designated weight lands on it. This similarly keeps out bigger birds like starlings.

3. Use smaller perches

Larger birds like starlings have a difficult time landing on small perches.

4. Use different seeds

Starlings cannot open a closed sunflower seed, so buying sunflower seeds with the hull with help deter them. They also aren’t fans of safflower seeds, but love milo.

5. Keep seeds off the floor

This is good practice anyway, but you should do your best to clean up any spilled seed from the floor as soon as possible. Also try to avoid having open platform feeders. Starlings will easily spot open feeders and eat anything off the ground. Once that’s gone, they may look around and instantly notice your feeders.

Here is recent footage of the starlings in action:

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.


  1. Like some pictures on how to keep starlings out of bird feeders

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