In the winter, flocks of Blackbirds can become the bane of birder's as they try to feed their feathered friends. It's not so much a dislike of the individual birds that comprise the flock like Grackles, Redwings, Starlings or Cowbirds, it's the numbers they arrive in. Hundreds or thousands of any bird species mobbing and emptying bird feeders would discourage anyone from filling their bird feeders. Lucky for you there are a few options that you can try to lessen the impact of Blackbirds at your feeders.
Safflower seed can be found in many of our blends, but it can also be offered alone as a problem solver for blackbirds. The tough, triangular shell on this seed is difficult for Starlings to crack, making it hard for them to eat. On the other hand, your Cardinals, Titmice, Chickadees, House Finches, and Mourning Doves will happily eat it up. Fill your feeders with exclusively safflower and watch your Starlings fly away empty-beaked.
If your suet feeders are under attack, try offering plain suet. Often times the blackbirds are really only interested in the nuts and fruit found in your flavored suets. Your woodpeckers however are mostly interested in the beef fat itself. By removing the added ingredients in your suet cakes you are losing the interest of the Starlings and other blackbirds that are looking for those foods, while still attracting your beloved woodpeckers.
Cage Those Feeders
The best way to keep the blackbirds out of your food is to make it completely impossible for them to get to it. Adding a cage to your feeder is the simplest way to do that. We offer a couple sizes of cages that fit perfectly onto our quick-clean tube feeders. We also have a caged suet feeder. With any of these cages the blackbirds will not be able to fit inside, preventing them from eating all your delicious seed. What about your other birds? No worries! Any bird Bluebird sized or smaller can fit inside the cage, and your larger woodpeckers will use their long tongues to grab bites of suet and seed. In addition to cages we have a couple options for upside down suet feeders. These feeders allow your woodpeckers to easily cling to the feeder to eat while your Starlings, who don't cling very well, struggle to feed.
Dinner Time For Birds
Have you ever noticed that you mostly see the blackbirds during the middle of the day? This is when they are the most active and are searching for food. On the other hand, your backyard birds are looking for food mostly in the morning and the evening. Knowing this, you can set up a schedule of when you are going to feed the birds. Put out a small amount of food in the evening, just enough to last until the next morning. Say from 4pm to 8am. This allows your backyard birds to eat undisturbed by Starlings, and leaves very little for the hungry midday hordes.
Spread Things Out
Another option is to spread out where you are offering food, and use your yard to your advantage. Each morning, Charles spreads about 2 cups of birdseed around in his yard, which allows all the birds to disperse and find seed amongst the leaf litter. This way your birds have the option of avoiding dense mobs at your feeders and allows everyone a chance to eat.
The best way to make sure your seed is safe from the Starlings is to employ several of these fixes at once. Offer a caged feeder with your regular food and only safflower in any feeders you can't put a cage on. Put out your plain suet in an upside down feeder to make sure it's as blackbird-proof as it can possibly be. Mix and match different solutions to find what works best for your yard!