Last Updated on: September 14, 2022
Starlings can make bird feeding a nightmare.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act only protects migratory bird species, and the starling isn’t one of them since it’s a non-native like the house sparrow.
Therefore, you don’t have to entertain these bully birds that give you sleepless nights and drive away your favorite backyard visitors.
Here’s how to get rid of starlings and forget about this annoying species. But first:
Why Do Homeowners Hate Starlings?
Let’s take the European starling, for instance. It’s a loud, nuisance bird that’s everywhere in North America. How did it get here?
In 1890, a Shakespeare enthusiast brought this songbird to Central Park, New York, to have all the species the playwright wrote about in his work. What a wonderful thing for Shakespeare lovers who loved birds but couldn’t travel to Europe to see some avians.
But, he underestimated its breeding ability, and the species spread throughout North America.
So, we can say a starling isn’t a wild bird to attract to your backyard because:
1. It’s Aggressive
Your backyard may turn into a battlefield as starlings drive out other species from nest boxes or cavities. For instance, your deck might turn chaotic when a starling encounters a tree swallow, wood duck, northern flicker, or an eastern bluebird.
This competition also affects the population of some species.
With starlings spread throughout the continent, their fierce wars for nesting sites may reduce bird population because they compete with about 27 native birds so far.
2. It Has Large Flocks
It can live in any environment, including urban centers. So, you’ll see it perched on telephone poles, on lawns, and on parking lots. It also moves in a large flock while mingling with blackbirds and grackles. You’ll often see a large group, called a murmuration, swirling in the sky as it moves to evade predators.
Such a murmuration can also interfere with air traffic.
These invasive birds leave bird droppings that destroy structures. What a disaster if you’ve just renovated your roof. It’s It’s Noisy
Do you know European starlings mimic the calls of about 20 avians? They mimic the American robin, wood thrush, and red-tailed hawk, among other birds. When a flock takes over your backyard, say goodbye to restful mornings.
3. It Can Be Parasitic
Female European starlings may take over nests and lay their eggs in them. Imagine what that means when there’s a flock of starlings nesting in your backyard. There’ll be no room for other avians.
4. It Eats Anything
Of course, insects make up most of the diet, and that’s why these bully birds love foraging on the ground. But, you’ll also find them in your garbage or fields with grains, seeds, or livestock feed.
It’s a problem when they invade a farm and destroy grains while bringing weed seeds.
5. It Nests In Buildings
They are cavity-nesting birds, so they can also call cavities in your building home. Even streetlight supports have space for a nest when a hole dug by a woodpecker isn’t available.
How To Keep Starlings Away From Your Backyard
1. Stop Feeding Avians
It’s a quick solution when starlings are out of control, but it also denies lovable birds access to food. Therefore, this should be the last option.
Do this in summer as birds can find bird food elsewhere.
2. Change Your Bird Feeder
It’s impossible to discuss how to keep starlings away from bird feeders without talking about changing your present feeder. If you’ve watched starlings take over your bird feeder, it’s time to make your backyard less starling-friendly with these options:
a. An Upside-down Suet Feeder
Use an upside-down bird feeder to deter starlings while feeding the small birds that can maneuver this feeder.
b. Cage Feeder
It’s a delicate balance between getting rid of starlings and keeping the avians you want on your property. The bills of smaller birds can reach food through the small holes of the cage. However, starlings and other predators like squirrels get none of it.
c. A Bird Feeder With An Automatic Door
Some feeders are weight-sensitive, such that they close when a larger bird like a blue jay or starling perches on them.
d. Tube-Style Feeder
It has short perches and the feeding ports are too close for large birds to enjoy. We’re talking about a tube feeder for birds smaller than 7.9 to 9.1 inches.
To learn more about different feeders, check out our related articles on how to attract birds to your backyard. You’ll also come across a related post on how to starling-proof existing feeders.
3. Change Bird Feed
Its long, pointed bill can forage insects, bird seed, and grains.
But, there are also some foods they don’t like, such as grey-striped sunflower, safflower seed, unshelled peanuts, and nyjer. Their bills crack black-oil sunflower seeds, but they can’t penetrate the hulls of grey-striped sunflower seeds.
Foods to keep out of your feeder or serve in starling-proof bird feeders are millet, cracked corn, mealworms, shelled peanuts, nectar, and fruits.
If denying starlings food makes you feel like a bad host, feed them cheap cracked corn but in a specific feeder away from the feeders other birds use. That’ll divert some of them from your sunflower seeds and suet.
4. Clean Your Backyard Regularly
Clean your yard regularly because these birds forage on the ground picking insects and seeds. Furthermore, prune trees to prevent roosting and remove nesting material like grass and feathers.
5. Prevent Starlings From Nesting
These birds don’t mind living near humans. Consequently, they take over any cavity in your backyard. Here’s how to stop them:
a. Use A Gutter Guard
After proofing your feeder, you also need to block vents they can use as nests. A bird guard isn’t complicated. It blocks birds without affecting the vent’s function. Plus, you can have this seal designed to the size of specific invasive species.
b. Add Predator Tubes To Birdhouses
Prevent starlings from using nest boxes or birdhouses by adding tubes that form tunnels for small songbirds to access the nesting site.
c. Change Your Nest Boxes
A starling is comfortable even in a nest box. The problem is, it’ll kick out other birds. For that reason, get a nest box with an opening under 1.5 inches in diameter. Starlings won’t go through such small spaces.
If you’d like to stick to your large nest box because of large birds that aren’t destructive, you’ll have to monitor it throughout summer and spring to prevent starlings from nesting. Also, if you let them use your nest this year, they’ll come back again next year as they use the same site several times.
It might sound ruthless, but removing their eggs is also helpful when a handful of starlings invade your nest boxes. We’ll tell you what starling eggs look like below.
6. Prevent Roosting
The destruction is extensive when a group takes over your property. The noise will keep you awake too. Therefore:
a. Install Bird Spike
Install them on various spots where starlings perch, such as window sills, the edge of your roof, and tree branches. It’ll also deter other predators that frequent your yard.
Spikes are easy to install as most have adhesive tape, and there’s no drilling required. Additionally, they have durable material that doesn’t leave unsightly rust marks when you remove them.
b. Use A Bird Deterrent Kite Or Scarecrow
Make them feel so uncomfortable that they leave your backyard for good. Starlings also have predators, so a bird deterrent kite that resembles a falcon or an owl scarecrow will have them wary of staying too long on your property.
They’ll think there’s a predator on a branch and stop roosting there. It’s also not as extreme as not feeding all birds until starlings disappear. On top of that, you can use this kite alongside other starling control strategies like changing your feeders.
The only issue with a bird repellent kite or a scarecrow is that other birds perceive falcons or owls as predators.
c. Use A Sound Repellent
It’s a simple trick that uses an audio frequency suited to this species. Therefore, unlike a kite or scarecrow that might deter other birds, this one is for starlings only.
But, ultrasound frequencies are also disadvantageous in that they have a working range and may sometimes repel other birds.
The best working range is up to 6,500 square feet. Also, instead of ultrasound, the sound repellent can emit a starling distress call or the sound of their predators like falcons, eagles, owls, and hawks.
d. Install Bird Netting Or Chicken Wire
This wildlife removal strategy protects your fruit trees and also prevents a large flock of any predators from roosting on your property.
It’ll prevent access to fruits and insects, two foods that starlings love. Some homeowners combine bird netting with spraying insecticide, but this strategy will affect even avians you like, such as hummingbirds and warblers.
e. Use Bird Shock Tape
We listed it last because we feel that even if you want to get rid of the European starling or the house sparrow, there are other methods specific to bully birds. This one doesn’t discriminate, and it’ll shock even the avians you want to keep in your backyard.
A bird shock tape works on window sills, pipes, and any other surface that avians perch.
It’s a simple peel-and-stick solution that prompts avians to fly away. Some, such as Bird Jolt Flat Track, use solar power.
How To ID Starlings
It’s wise to learn ways to ID starlings to avoid chasing away the wrong species when getting rid of starlings.
We’ll focus on the European starling as it’s the most common in North America. Here’s how to ID it:
Overall, a European starling is chunky, about the size of a blackbird, because its bill-to-tail length is between 7.9 and 9.1 inches. Though it has a short tail, its bill is long and slender. When you see it in the sky, it has short, pointed wings.
A breeding bird has a dark body with purplish-green iridescent feathers and a yellow bill, while a nonbreeding bird has the same purplish-green plumage with spots and a dark bill.
You’ll see it foraging insects and seeds, moving fast in a zigzag line. It also flies fast, often reaching a speed of 48 miles per hour.
Further, you may see it foraging in open grasslands or low shrub cover.
These bully birds build a nest using grass, pine needles, feathers, trash, and pieces of cloth. They also add green plants to the nest during the nesting period. It takes them between one and three days to build a nest, so you have to be very thorough in scrutinizing your backyard for these pest birds.
A clutch has three to six bluish or greenish-white eggs that both sexes incubate for 12 days. After hatching, the nestlings depend on their parents for about 23 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to get rid of starlings?
The best starling control strategies change their access to food, roosting, and nesting grounds.
We gave you several ways to remove the food and feeders they like. For instance, when you mount a metal cage over your feeder, you’ll see them watching the food inside and pushing their long bills through the metal cage as the smaller birds slide through to perch and feed.
On top of that, any food with a thick shell will deter starlings from your feeder. Since it’s common in North America all year round, using one tactic won’t get rid of starlings.
At other times, you can remove nesting starlings when they take over your next box. We explained how to ID starling eggs above so you’ll know the eggs to take out. You might even need starling removal services when this species turns your yard into a breeding den.
How do you get rid of starlings and keep birds?
First, if you’re removing feeders, find the ones suited to smaller birds. For instance, an upside-down suet feeder keeps away starlings but feeders smaller avians.
Since this unwanted species loves foraging, use a platform feeder with food it hates so that you only attract northern cardinals and other ground-feeders but stymie starlings.
Another suitable wildlife control idea is if you’re changing your nest box, bring one with a smaller entrance that starlings can get through.
Will a fake owl keep starlings away?
Yes, because owls are predators. Starlings won’t roost near a predator, and you’ll be in control of your backyard.
Which bird control strategies did you like the most? In summary, change your avian food, use a starling-proof bird feeder, remove nests, or distracting distract starlings from your feeding station. If you want to forget about starlings for good, combine these strategies.
Extreme methods like bird tape can deter other birds that love perching on telephone wires, so you’ll have an empty backyard. Whatever you do, think about the safety of smaller birds and larger ones that aren’t invasive.