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Starling Invasion!

15 years ago

My feeders are being invaded by starlings and their youngsters! I came home this week to find a number of new starling families taking a liking to my peanut feeder. The mommas and their (seems like a thousand) babies empty it in a day and are keeping all the other birds out of the yard. I haven't seen the finches in at least a week! I'd take the peanut feeder down but we do have a woodpecker who uses it and i'm afraid the starlings would just move onto one of my other feeders (seed cake, BOSS mix). I guess this is more of a vent then a question. I just wish I could attract the more plesant birds and keep those pesky starlings away!

Comments (35)

  • 15 years ago

    Unless you're ready to trap and dispose of the starlings, why not take down the feeders? The birds won't go hungry this time of year.

    Unless you deal with the starlings, you won't have woodpeckers-not for long anyway.

    Linda

  • 15 years ago

    take down the feeders. I've noticed I only get lost of starlings during breeding time. Woodpeckers don't need supplemental feeding at this time of year.

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  • 15 years ago

    I have upside down suet feeders and I only feed peanuts in the winter otherwise grackles and RWBB will empty them. Take them down for a while and then put them back up after the starlings leave.
    Cathy

  • 15 years ago

    Smear home made peanutbutter suet in tree bark the woodies will never miss the peanuts, the starlings cant hang on to the tree long enough! ;)

  • 15 years ago

    I run the bird Cafe here at my house. I feed Boss, thistle, and put out peanut suet, shelled peanuts and peanuts in the shell. I'm sorry to say I have always had sparrows, crackles, starlings that gobble up all of it. I also dump Boss in an old hanging planter for the squirrels, it keeps them away from my feeders. I go through 100-150 lbs. of Boss, 50 lbs. of thistle, and about 24 suet cakes a month. I just feed them all and don't let my feeders run out. There is no way in Central Illinois that I could kill or deter these darn pesky birds. Because I can afford to keep the Cafe open at all times, summer and winter I attract and keep all the migratory birds that come to my house every year. RBGB's 8 pair, Indigos 10 are here now, white throated and white crown sparrow, chippers, song sparrows, RBW, downey's, hairy's and Red headed woodpecker. I also have RB and white nut hatch's, and brown creepers. At this point I have 4 nesting pair of Balt. Orioles that come to feast on grape jelly and oranges. I also have the usual cardinals and blue jays to numerous to count that are here year round. No one nests in my yard. They know it is Beck's Cafe and no matter what you are, you are always welcome. They are now bringing all their babies here to feed and teach. I have never had a problem with one species running any bird off. They all share. My doves, and Eurasian doves, keep most of the seed on the ground cleaned up. My brown thrashers are here now, and recently I had an American woodcock. I live in the center of busy street with a fenced in yard. Sometimes I am even surprised by the amount and variety of birds that come to my Cafe. God Bless them all.

  • 15 years ago

    Beck do you have a pond or a water feature in your yard? I get an amazing variety of birds to my pond. I bet your birds would love a little pond with waterfalls if you dont have one.

  • 15 years ago

    This morning I noticed baby starlings showing up in my yard. Is their loud squawking the most annoying noise in the world or what? :/ It's only going to get worst over the next couple weeks. Fortunately, starlings here don't tend to stick around for long. I get a batch of them during late spring and again, briefly, a couple other times a year.

    Beck, that's a ridiculous amount of food your birds eat. I just bought eight suets for my downy woodpeckers and I expect them to last into next year. I also just bought a 50 lb bag of boss and I expect that to last for five months.

    Beck, I would kill to get one nesting pair of orioles coming to my feeder. Four would be awesome. I've seen six orioles so far this spring and not one has stayed longer than two days.

  • 15 years ago

    I do have a water feature in my yard unfortunately it attracts all sorts of critters! The Orioles have been here for 3 weeks so I know they are nesting. My surprise is my red bellied woodpeckers, they eat more oranges than my Orioles. We go through so much thistle seed because of the year round goldfinches that eat here, sometimes 50 at a time. Also it is the favorite of the Indigos. Sometimes in the winter we go through 200-300 lbs of Boss a month.

  • 15 years ago

    We too had a starling problem ... until we got the grackle invasion!! Nary a starling in sight now but wonder what may invade next to scare off the grackles?!

    Tell us about that lovely spaniel in the pond!!

  • 15 years ago

    This morning I saw an adult starling in my yard being mobbed by five youngsters. I guess it was looking for worms or insects in the grass and the young were fighting for the next bite of food. The adult starlings also try to hang upside down to bite off chunks of the suet to feed to their young.

  • 15 years ago

    Geesh..NO WAY I'd pay for expensive food to feed either Grackles or Starlings. If they showed up, I'd take everything down and keep them down until they were gone. Feeding those types of birds only makes them multiply like rats and the neighbors don't have a chance of seeing any song birds either

  • 15 years ago

    Rachel I don't think you understand. We have starlings and sparrows all year round. They don't leave! When the Grackles come they stay long enough to kill some of them off! All I feed is BOSS and that is all they eat, even the darn sparrows. If I took down my feeders, the minute they were back up the starlings and hosps wound be right back. I can't see depriving the 8-10 cardinal pairs of food during nesting season.

  • 15 years ago

    If all You have showing up is HS and Starlings,feed upside down suet and thistle. That would help. Honestly, why would you want to feed HS and starlings?

  • 15 years ago

    Frank,
    I do feed upside down thistle, and suet. I think you need to read my past post. Like I really WANT to feed HS and starlings. I have many wonderful birds that come to my yard, as I stated in my above post on May 30th.

  • 15 years ago

    I have these kind of birds all year round also. Doesn't mean that I want to be feeding them either!

    Apparently, this forum is only for the "experienced know-it-all" bird watchers. If some of the people here would offer help instead of arrogant remarks, maybe we'd all learn something. I thought learning was the purpose of this forum. Doesn't bother me anymore as I've taken down my feeders for good. I now only feed hummers.

  • 15 years ago

    Beck1...I LOVE the little cocker in that picture. What a beautiful dog. We have three Cockers, one blue merle, one golden and one that is pretty much off white.

    As far as Starlings go since they and the dreaded HOSP are not protected species when they get thick and start eating everything in sight I get my BB gun out. HOSP are targeted every single time I see one in my yard but the Starlings are only when they become a nusciance.

    Donna

  • 15 years ago

    I should consider taking down my boss feeder. I want to feed cardinals, chickadees, etc, but where I live there are so few of them compared to the junk birds it's probably not worth the trouble or expense. Beck, you say you get 8-10 cardinal pairs coming to your feeder. If I had that many I would gladly put up with the junk birds. However, I only get one cardinal pair each spring. I'm guessing 90% of my BOSS gets eaten by house sparrows, grackles, other junk, and chipmunks that clean up whatever the house sparrows dump onto the ground(which is a lot). During April and May the seed lasted much longer because, for whatever reason, the house sparrows didn't have a craving for it. Also, I didn't get starlings and grackles until a couple weeks ago. Around the start of June the house sparrows, starlings, and grackles have brought their fledglings and swarmed the feeder. The cardinals have finished raising their young and don't come to the feeder nearly as much now anyway, so I probably should take it down and just put it back up next March. Unfortunately, my yard will become very quiet if I take the feeder down.
    :( I have the oriole and hummer feeders up, but I don't see many orioles and it has been nearly a month since my last hummer sighting.

  • 15 years ago

    I wonder if people realize that their "need" to feed the wildlife in their backyards is what causes these problems, among others. Most bird species that come to feeders do not need our help with feeding, except maybe during the winter. Cardinals especially are a numerous bird and are expanding their range (as a result of people putting out food). I know they are pretty and a nice sight to see in our yards but you wouldn't have the problems of house sparrows, starlings, squirrels, chipmunks, grackles etc... swarming your yard because they wouldn't have a reason to. Feeding does more good for people and more harm for wildlife.

  • 15 years ago

    Oh, I meant to add, if I want to experience nature and watch our beautiful birds I grab a pair of binoculars and I go TO THEM in their natural habitats. Much more interesting watching birds exhibiting natural behaviors than watching them dangle on a plastic feeder. JMHO.

  • 15 years ago

    If you think that's bad, look at what I have:

    Ok, to be serious, I have since replaced the vertical suet log with a couple of horizontal logs. That keeps the starlings (and Sasquatch) away. ;-)

    --
    Liz
    Check out my photo gallery and Live Feeder Cam
    Help native birds - discourage house sparrows!
    Follow me on Twitter

  • 15 years ago

    I thought this Starling wars thread might be good for a laugh, but oh holy cow, Liz, that photo is a priceless gem! Way too funny, I almost peed my pants a little there. Thanks for that.

    -O-

    Waiting for further advice now ("I could never get Cardinals to stay in my yard because of the hoardes of big-foot babies squalling to be fed...").

  • 15 years ago

    A solution that worked for me and got rid of most of the undesireables (while keeping the good guys) was to limit feeding to:
    Upside down suet feeder
    Thistle feeders
    safflower platform feeder.

    Safflower costs twice as much, but I go thru 5-10x less than BOSS.

    I also like to use fruits when on hand, like grapes, bananas, berries, etc

  • 14 years ago

    jismran,
    Thanks for sucking the joy out of an old disabled body. I bet it made your day!

  • 14 years ago

    jsimran,

    I'm sure won't be offended if I take what the Audubon Society, American Birding Association, and National Wildlife Federation have to say about feeding, over your opinion.

    --
    Liz
    Check out my photo gallery and Live Feeder Cam
    Help native birds - discourage house sparrows!
    Follow me on Twitter

  • 14 years ago

    Liz, you're a HOOT! Jisimran..I'm with you. I keep saying I'm SO lucky NOT to have "bird lovers" near me dumping out cheap food and attracting hordes of song-bird predators. I have a large wooded property and nature balances itself out there without my help. I only bribe a few birds to come my window so I can enjoy their beauty, but they can get along fine without me.

    Any time I start putting out food I'm throwing things out of balance by selectively helping certain species, so I only have one BOSS tube feeder and one suet feeder hanging from the eaves and a bird bath right by my window. That way, if any unwanted birds appear, I can take down the feeders.
    I don't encourage any song-bird predators like chipmunks, squirrels, Blue Jays, Grackles, Starlings, etc. by deliberately feeding them. They are around other areas, but hustling their own grub.

  • 14 years ago

    When you live in an area that is surrounded by nothing but corn and soybean fields, that the farmers have removed every living tree and hedge row, you don't see too many birds except for RWBB. I don't have a "large wooded property", I live in the center of a town on a small lot. I don't dump out cheap food either. My whole block has been taken over by low-life renters,with gutters, fascia, and siding falling off the houses. Guess who nests there. They could care less about birds. I don't think I've upset the balance in this one little block of hell that I live on. I amazed at what even comes to visit.

  • 14 years ago

    gymell - I read the links you provided and I don't see anywhere anything stated that birds need our supplemental feeding. They do say that the majority of their diets should come from natural sources and I also found this statement:

    "In any conflict of interest between birds and birders, the welfare of the birds and their environment comes first."

    Basically, that could be taken to mean that the welfare of the birds should come before our desire to attract them to our backyards. It all fits into the bigger picture which is that our environment and all the living beings in it has been thrown so out of balance because of OUR own actions. It is NOT the animals' fault!

    That sasquatch picture is hilarious btw!

  • 14 years ago

    That photo of sasquatch by the bird feeders is the funniest thing I have seen in a long time. Thank you for a much appreciated laugh.

  • 14 years ago

    Tube feeders with shorter perches, feeders with an adjustable dome on the top, caged feeders (only small birds get through) and the feeders that can be set to shut down seed ports depending on weight all can help discourage birds like grackles and still allow the others to eat.

    As for my couple of cups of seed and suet disrupting the balance of nature, I disagree. Until the Cornell Lab of Ornithology states that my feeding the birds is harmful I will continue to do so. They are an organization who's purpose is the study of birds. They sponsor Project Feeder Watch, eBird and so on, encouraging people to feed the birds and provide data to them for their studies. They are professionals and if feeding the birds was disruptive/harmful to the birds I can't imagine they would encourage it.

    Loved Sasquatch! And the dog is adorable!

  • 14 years ago

    Starlings and grackles really aren't a big problem here outside of a few weeks a year. It's the house sparrows that really suck. Unfortunately, they are a small bird so nyjer socks, short perched tube feeders, etc won't deter them. The dang hosps just ripped two big holes in one of my nyjer socks. There is a big pile of nyjer in the grass because they like to dump seed.

  • 14 years ago

    My DH bought me a pellet gun. I have been practicing and have gotten pretty good at hitting the target from my wheelchair on the deck. I have killed about 60 sparrows, 23 starlings, and 15 grackles (even the babies). I haven't really noticed any major reduction yet. I just need to know if it is okay to kill the darn doves, both kinds, Eurasians and Morning. I think we could even make a meal off the Eurasians if it's okay to shoot them. Also are Blue Jays song birds? Because I have plenty to add to the big pile of carcasses out in the yard if it's okay to shoot Blue Jays. Well I can't say I have a big pile, because both of my cockers retrieve and they just bring them up to the deck for me and I throw them in a big Hefty bag. I bet the garbage men are going to hate me.I also took down all of my feeders. I'm going to save a lot of money not buying that cheap feed that I dump. My goldfinches are a little upset, but guess what, nature will take care of them. Forget the migrants that have to come to my house for 10-15 years, nature will take care of them too. Wow, I really have made a difference in my little block. It is so quiet. Plus the dogs are getting plenty of training! Thanks for your great tips. I guess next year I can take a vacation with all the money I've saved.

  • 14 years ago

    I'm guessing it's not ok to kill grackles... certainly not doves or blue jays.

  • 14 years ago

    Why? I don't think they are classified as song birds. I think they are just the crap birds, just like sparrows.

  • 14 years ago

    beck1, I hope your last two posts were an attempt at dark humor; I'm a bit horrified at the thought that you might be serious. I'll leave it at that.

    -O-

  • 14 years ago

    We switched to feeding safflower, thistle and upside down suet feeders along with fruit, jelly and nectar, after our first year living in the country. We moved from the city to a rural area in Wisconsin and decided to put nest boxes out for bluebirds and wrens, our first year we had mostly HS but we also had one set of bluebirds and one set of tree swallows. Before the little ones had a chance to fledge the HS killed them and nested on top of them, we were sick over this. I removed all the nest boxes and started researching on how to keep the non-native and rough birds away. The switch to the foods we place out on our property was the biggest part of not attracting the non-natives and rougher birds. When the HS try to take over the nest boxes in the spring I shoot them, it is the best way to keep them out of the box, plus it gets rid of another non-native invasive bird. I tried removing their nests at first but they are persistent and do not give up until you get rid of them. We now get one or two nesting pair of bluebirds and usually four to five nesting pair of tree swallows and a pair of nesting wrens(all have fledged within the last week and a half) the few starlings that come in the yard to feed on bugs in the grass do not stick around long ( they get shot as well). This is not intended to offend any bird lovers ( we are bird lovers at our house ) it is only to tell how we deal with the invasive non-native birds that are taking over the territory of our native song birds.

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