European Starlings: Messy Eaters!

European Starling
European Starling

Most of the year, European Starlings don’t spend a lot of time in our yard, but when it gets cold and snowy, the big mixed flocks are more likely to descend on the feeders: European Starlings, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Brown-Headed Cowbirds and Common Grackles arrive in large groups that displace our regular birds. I’m okay with a few random Red-Winged Blackbirds and even the occasional Common Grackle, but European Starlings do not fill me with joy. Even a few of them can be a disruptive addition to the yard. They hog the feeders, blocking other birds from the food, eat more than their share, and make a mess!

This week, with both snow and cold in the area, the starlings have unfortunately arrived. I deter the big flocks just by walking outside and standing there for a couple minutes, but there are a handful of tenacious starlings that have been hanging around lately and I swear, they are the messiest eaters out there! Their sloppy eating habits are wasting a lot of seed and keeping other birds from the feeders, so something needs to be done.

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Common Grackles vs The Nuttery Globe Seed Feeder (Plus a Review)

The Nuttery Globe Seed Feeder
The Nuttery Globe Seed Feeder

I seem to have a growing collection of bird feeders. Some women can’t stop buying shoes. I can’t stop buying bird feeders. Just when I think I’ve got the yard set up perfectly, some bird dynamic changes, I look for a solution and there I am buying another bird feeder!

The problem I was having was a real pain . . . or a non-problem depending on your point of view. While all birds have their good and bad qualities (as seen by humans), I have mixed feelings about Common Grackles. While I think their feathers can be very beautiful in the sunlight and they are quite clever, their manners at the bird feeders don’t endear themselves to me. They tend to arrive in groups and if they like what they find in a feeder, they’ll hang around all day, dominating the feeders quite aggressively, not letting other birds have a chance.

I only have grackle issues periodically, mostly in the spring when they are moving in really large groups. But this year, a small group of them settled into our neighborhood, decided they liked my feeders and didn’t move on. With a crowd of grackles on the feeders, I was hardly seeing the Carolina Chickadees, White-Breasted Nuthatches and Tufted Titmouses that have been yard regulars for years. Even the finches and sparrows were getting scarce. What to do?

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When Birds Don’t Come to Your Feeders

Bird Feeder With No Birds
Bird Feeder With No Customers

Sometimes I hear people say that they see no birds even though they’ve put seed out for them. I think when you are trying to attract birds to your yard, it helps to think like a bird. Here are a few thoughts:

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