How do I stop Blackbirds, Grackles, and Starlings?

You're probably here because "blackbirds" have taken over your feeder...We can HELP!!

The fact that these birds can overtake a feeder (or feeders!) is usually the issue. One or two usually aren't a problem, but when those one or two tell ALL their friends, it can be so frustrating. We usually see four types of blackbirds: European Starlings, Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Brown-headed Cowbirds.


European Starlings are a non-native species and are not related to our native blackbirds. They are iridescent black with speckles. Common Grackles are black with an iridescent sheen, and they are our most common blackbirds. Red-winged Blackbird males are plain black except for a red and yellow shoulder patch. Brown-headed Cowbird males are black with brown feathers only on their heads.

Here are 3 ways you can keep blackbirds away from your feeders:

1. Change up your food offering


Safflower Seed: Safflower is a small, white seed that is high in protein and fat. Many of your favorite birds, including jays, cardinals, chickadees, House Finches, doves, titmice and nuthatches, readily eat safflower, but blackbirds (and squirrels!!) typically do not.

Nyjer Seed: Nyjer seed (or thistle seed) is a favorite among finches. This seed goes in our WBU EcoClean® and Quick-Clean® Finch Tube Feeders­­ which have tiny ports that only tiny beaks can access, so it makes it tough for larger birds to eat.

2. Exclude Them


The most effective way to avoid losing all your bird food to starlings and blackbirds is to physically prevent them from gaining access to the food. These birds are simply too large to fit through the openings of the cages that surround the feeders below, yet smaller birds fly right through the openings in much the same way as they would fly through a fence or navigate in the dense branches of a bush. Even the larger woodpeckers can still feed thanks to their long necks, prying beaks, and agile tongues, which can stretch to obtain food. These cages will also stop squirrels and quickly pay for themselves in terms of food saved. Cages should have a diameter of 11” to avoid grackles and starlings eating the food by sticking their necks through the bars of the cage.

3. Solution Feeders


The Eliminator™ and Fundamentals Squirrel-proof Feeders are weight-sensitive and will close off access to the food when heavier visitors sit on a perch. These heavier visitors include blackbirds, doves, mockingbirds, and squirrels!