Starlings, Grackles, Cowbirds and Red Wings Oh My!!!
Does it look like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 classic The Birds outside your window? Are you watching your seed and money drain through your feeders like so much hourglass sand? Well we at Wild Birds Unlimited have some suggestions to try to lessen the dark hordes impact on your wallet. While none of them is guaranteed to entirely stop them any of the steps could make the skies brighter. These aggressive hordes can be annoying but are only a temporary problem. While there is no surefire way to eliminate them entirely but there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of seed they eat and your frustration.
- First keep in mind your resident birds will be spending the night nearby. They'll be there at first light and the last to eat before dusk. The Blackbirds tend to migrate into our area each morning and will depart several hours before dusk for a regional roosting site. You only want to have enough seed in your feeders to satisfy your resident birds from 4pm to 8am. This will provide enough food for your favorite birds when they need it the most. Your feeders will be empty for the majority of the daylight hours.
- You can try filling your feeders with nothing but Safflower seed. Whereas your Cardinals, Chickadees and Titmouse love it the blackbirds have difficulty cracking the hard shells.
- I've had the best success when I've installed cages on my tube feeders. The Blackbirds are too large to get through the openings but it ensures a place at the table for the smaller birds.
- Some of the squirrel proof feeders can be adjusted to lighter setting that will shut down the seed ports when a larger bird gets on it.
- While none of these ideas will dissuade the Blackbirds, they can lessen the impact of them on the feeders. Eventually; after the the snows melt they'll move on to northern climates.
- Some customers have found success with upside down suet feeders. Whereas your Woodpeckers can easily hang upside down the Blackbird have a difficult time. It's not full proof as some very tenacious Starlings garb it with one claw and flap in mid air.
- Some of the weight sensitive squirrel-proof feeders like the Eliminator pictured above can be calibrated to shut off the seed ports when a heavier bird land on it. I've got mine set to shut on the Grackles. The smaller starlings are so greedy and pushy that it shuts down when two of them land on it.
- One of the most successful ways of deterring Blackbirds is by adding a cage to your tube feeder. Wild Birds Unlimited's tube feeders can be outfitted with a cage to keep out the larger birds while ensuring that your smaller birds have a place at the table. The cage opening allows for birds such as Finches, Sparrows, Nuthatch, Titmouse, Wren, Chickadee, Downy Woodpecker to get in. Unfortunately birds such as cardinals, Blue Jays and larger Woodpeckers can't get in. I use my cages each spring when the Blackbirds appear. After they're gone I just remove the cages and store them until next year. Cages are also another way of keeping squirrels off a tube feeder.