Jul 3, 2019 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, June 2019

Discouraging Starlings from Feeders

A European starling greedily eyes the offerings at a suet feeder.
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A flock of European starlings can make short work of your birdseed and suet. To encourage them to dine elsewhere, adapt your buffet and your serving utensils. Starlings' favorite foods are peanuts, mixed seed, bread products, table scraps, and suet. Foods they don't care for include peanuts in the shell and gray striped sunflower seeds—their bill isn't designed to crack open hard hulls. Nyjer seed is too small to be worth the bother for these husky birds, and while they will eat safflower seed and black-oil sunflower, they are not favorites. Also, starlings prefer suet dough that contains seeds over plain suet. Starlings are incredibly adaptable birds, but they struggle to use tube feeders. There are suet feeders in which the access is only at the bottom, requiring birds to hang upside down to feed. That's no problem for woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and most other feeder birds, but challenging for starlings. Try any or all of the above to encourage your neighborhood starling flock to move on to a better buffet elsewhere.





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  • I am excited to have my daughter’s tree this year, since my landlord has removed the lovely yew next to my patio, which was the only shelter for birds at my feeder.
    by pmalcpoet, Mon, 20 Dec 2021
  • Goldfinches will continue as long as Swiss chard is available. I'm watching one eating chard right now (mid-November in Vermont).
    by Brian Tremback, Sun, 14 Nov 2021
  • Birds are on the decline though sunflowers are rarely touched and for weeks hardly .eaten. I'll try a few sparing nuts on the table and a fat ball broken for jackdaws and tits but mealworms were a summer favourite being my go to choice
    by Paul Harabaras, Thu, 04 Nov 2021
  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021