Flocks of Birds At Your Feeders

Red-Winged Blackbirds and Common Grackle
Red-Winged Blackbirds and Common Grackle

Late winter to very early spring can be a stressful time of year for the backyard bird watcher. You put out the regular foods in the regular bird feeders for your regular birds . . . and a noisy aggressive mob of Common Grackles, Brown-Headed Cowbirds, Red-Winged Blackbirds and European Starlings show up. They take over the feeders, push the other birds out and eat a huge amount of seed. What can you do about it? Here are some options:

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Attracting White-Throated Sparrows, Dark Eyed Juncos & Other Sparrows

Dark-Eyed Junco Eating Nyjer Seed in the Snow
Dark-Eyed Junco Eating Nyjer Seed in the Snow

When I was a kid, we called Dark-Eyed Juncos “snow birds.” Until I started bird watching later in life, I thought that was their actual name. To us, seeing a snow bird was a sign. It meant that it was going to snow, leading to snowmen, snow forts, saucering down the side hill and a day off of school. I suspect this childhood joy may still be a little part of the reason that I still love these little birds today. Even today, when I know that birds don’t cause the weather, I still feel joy when I see the first of the juncos and their winter pals, the White-Throated Sparrows arrive in mid-fall.

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Thwarting Spring Grackle Invasions

Common Grackle
Common Grackle

Last spring at about this same time, I had a flock of Common Grackles descend on my bird feeders. While I think they are smart birds with subtly beautiful feathers, I really don’t like their behavior at the feeders. They typically seem to arrive in a group and aggressively go at the feeders, excluding the regulars. They are very persistent about going after what they want and will continue to hang around as long as they can get it. So this spring, I again had to make adjustments to get them to calm down.

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