Optics Mag is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Read more.

How to Keep Starlings from Bird Feeders: 5 Tips and Tricks

Last Updated on

bird feeder with baffle

Starlings are something of a menace whether they are being noisy in your garden or devouring your freshly planted seeds. They can also attack and deter other visitors to your bird feeders. Unfortunately, it can be tricky to deter Starlings from your feeders while still attracting other birds, especially because the Starling is a similar shape and size to a lot of other garden visitors. You can’t use techniques like scarecrows or sonic scares because these will put other birds off, too.

Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks that should help you attract the birds you do want while putting Starlings off. Below we discuss five of these tips to help you in your quest for the perfect feeder population.

hummingbird divider

The 5 Tips to Keep Starlings from Bird Feeders

1. Avoid Foods They Love

Starlings are virtually omnivorous. In this case, that means that they will eat seeds, berries, and insects. Their propensity to eat just about anything is one of the reasons that many gardeners want to deter Starlings and is one of the reasons that it is difficult to put just this species off.

However, while they will eat most things, there are certain foods that this bird finds especially enjoyable. They love cracked corn, cracked sunflower seeds, suet with nuts, shelled peanuts, and mealworms.

Starlings have soft, rounded beaks, which means that they do prefer seeds and other foods that have already been cracked or that don’t need cracking in the first place. And it is their love of insects that means they especially enjoy dining on mealworms. Although they will eat other foods, Starlings will try to find sources of their preferred foods so will eventually avoid your feeders if they don’t contain their favorite snack.

garden bird feeder
Image By: PhillipsC, Shutterstock

2. Offer Foods Starlings Dislike

Similarly, you can offer food that Starlings dislike. It can be difficult to find feeder filler that they hate, but seeds like black oil sunflower seeds have a very thick shell and because of their soft bills, Starlings are ill-equipped to deal with them. For the same reason, peanuts that are still in their shells are another pet peeve of all but the most determined Starling. Finally, while Starlings will eat Nyjer, the small size of the seed means that it’s hardly worth their effort so they will be less likely to return for more in the future.

3. Feed Starlings Away from Existing Feeders

If you have a lot of space, you can consider remedial efforts to move the Starlings elsewhere. Buy plenty of cracked corn, which is not only a favorite of Starling’s but also one of the cheaper feeding options. Spread it on the ground somewhere away from your main feeders. Their love of this easy food source means that they will be more inclined to eat that than try your main feeders.

european starling perched on a bench
Image Credit: GAIMARD, Pixabay

4. Use Starling-Proof Feeders

Starlings are medium-sized birds and by using feeders that are designed for small birds, you should be able to prevent Starlings. Unfortunately, this does mean that you will also be preventing other medium-sized and larger birds. Such feeders include caged feeders because the Starling won’t be able to get through the gap to the food, weight-sensitive feeders that close if anything too heavy lands on the feeder, and inverted suet feeders, which will still attract Woodpeckers but are inaccessible for Starlings.

5. Remove Potential Nesting Sites

Starlings are cavity nesters, and they will build a nest in just about any cavity. This includes holes in walls, openings in barns, and even the vents coming from the drier and the heating system. Ensure all possible cavities are filled and you will prevent Starlings from being able to build nests. They will be more likely to get food from the area local to their nesting site and should leave your garden alone. At the very least, you will be less likely to have to endure a large flock of noisy Starlings.

starling eggs
Image By: Swee Ming, Shutterstock

hummingbird divider Are Starlings Pests?

Starlings are considered pests for several reasons. They are aggressive birds that will bully other birds and are also known to kill young birds and eggs in nests that they wish to inhabit. They eat seeds and crops, and they can gather in very large numbers, making noise and poop a real problem for those in the vicinity.

starling bird perching
Image By: Kev, Pixabay

Do Starlings Scare Off Other Birds?

Starlings are bullies and they are aggressive birds. They will attack other birds to gain an advantage at the feeder, and they are especially aggressive when they want a nesting site. Their bullying behavior means that the presence of Starlings is enough to put some birds off trying to get to a feeder. Once the Starling starts acting aggressively, it will deter those that are already at the feeder.

hummingbird divider

Final Thoughts

Hundreds of millions of Starlings are believed to live in the US and are considered pests by many because of their aggressive nature and their propensity to eat seeds and crops. They also tend to bully smaller birds at feeders, and it can be difficult to get rid of just Starlings while still attracting other species. However, by choosing the right foods and the right feeder and providing a plentiful supply of alluring food away from your main feeders, it is possible to free up those feeders for the birds that you want to attract.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Khairil Azhar Junos, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.