Sturnus vulgaries, commonly known as European Starlings, are beautiful. However, they exist as one of the worst, most hated, and unwanted birds in the U.S. They have a medium size, relatively similar to a large robin. In this article, we’re focusing on how to get rid of starlings: discouraging them from hanging around your yard and disrupting the existing bird ecosystem.
Sadly, these starlings move and invade a place in large flocks, making them tricky to get rid of.
Do you wonder where these annoying birds came from and why so many people hate them? If you’re a victim, what should you do to get rid of them once and for all? Thankfully, this article comes in handy as it will explain some of the problems starlings can cause.
Plus, we’ll point out the reasons why they’re most unwanted and vital tips for how to get rid of starlings. As a bonus, we will answer some of the most asked questions about these birds.
1. Buy a Starling-proof Bird Feeder
Buying a bird feeder that starlings can’t physically use is one of the best ways to eliminate these birds. The best thing is, you can find several options of starling-proof bird feeders on the market.
Their design stops starlings from eating your bird’s food. However, the feeder may block other large or medium-sized birds like cardinals, blue jays from eating, including other birds you may want to watch.
To avoid that, here are some smart bird feeder styles that can incredibly help:
• Weight sensitive feeder
The first option is to choose a weight-sensitive feeder like the squirrel buster, designed with a weight counter feature. In other words, you can adjust it to close the feeder holes if a specific amount of weight is applied. Therefore, this feeder will help keep away starlings and other heavier birds from the feeder. While this may help deter few starlings, most of them are clever and eventually find a way to eat from the feeder.
• Caged Bird Feeder
This bird feeder features a metal cage that encloses its tube feeder. The openings are relatively small to keep starlings out as they can’t fit through. Over time, they’ll go away from your backyard or property for good. In fact, you can use it as a temporary solution, and after they’re gone, you can bring back your bird’s regular feeders.
Additionally, they may also keep some of the favorite birds like cardinals that many people love to watch at their bird’s feeders. But, it may be big enough to allow some smaller birds like songbirds in to feed. If you’re looking for this bird feeder model, you can easily find it on amazon.
• Upside-down Bird Feeder
Do you have a suet feeder for woodpeckers in your backyard, and starlings invade and finish off the suet cakes in no time? Well, an upside-down suet feeder can be helpful. Basically, its design forces the birds to cling and feed upside-down. And this is something woodpeckers, nuthatches, wrens, and other small birds are comfortable with.
As for big pest birds such as starlings and grackles, they hate hanging upside down and definitely won’t enjoy feeding in this manner. This may also help keep away large swarms that are chowing down all the suet for your house sparrows.
2. Choose your Bird’s Food Wisely
Putting bird food that starlings don’t eat on the feeders can be another great way to keep them away from your bird feeders. If you take a look at the European Starling’s beak, you’ll notice they’re long, soft, and pointy. Therefore, they are best for feeding on invertebrates like snails, insects, caterpillars, worms, and spiders. Besides, the beak allows these birds to eat tiny seeds, grains, and fruits.
Foods that attract starlings
• Cracked corn: Starlings don’t hesitate to eat cracked corn. It may be their favorite food. So, remove it right away to help eliminate starlings from your backyard.
• Sunflower chips/kernels: Since starlings have soft and pointy beaks, they often like seeds that have already been cracked open like sunflower chips. If you fancy giving your birds sunflower chips, now is the time to stop if you want to keep starlings away.
• Suet with peanuts, corns, etc.: Most starlings are crazy for suet, especially if it has cracked peanuts, grains, or other shelled seeds. If you leave the suet with nothing, they’ll go away.
• Mealworms: Naturally, invertebrates form a greater portion of starlings’ diet.
• Human foods like bread: Starlings tend to invade a place occupied by people for a good reason. They enjoy what we eat.
Cutting the supply of the above foods can incredibly help control starlings around your bird feeders and backyard. Other than that, you can ditch water sources and even the bird feeders for several weeks to control their habit of visiting your backyard for food. Once you are sure they’re gone, you can put the feeders back.
Foods that keep starlings away from bird feeders
Being aware of the kind of foods that starlings don’t like is essential in your quest to get rid of them. Making small changes to the foods you put in your bird feeders can significantly impact getting rid of bird feeders. Starlings have soft and slender bills; hence they find it tricky to eat foods with thicker outer shells. Some of the foods you can use include:
• Striped sunflower
• Shelled peanuts
• Suet with no ingredients included
3. Eliminate their Nesting Options
Naturally, starlings make their nests in cavities, vents, and any small opening around your house to live and raise their offspring. And if you live in a suburban area, you’ll often see them flying in and out of vents they make on the sides of nearly all homes.
Luckily, it is easy to fix and restrict starlings from making nests in your home’s vents. You can check out your property for cavities and other possible nesting sites and seal every all of them using a vent cover. The good thing is that most of them have a design that keeps birds out at the same time function without glitches.
Other than that, your birdhouses should have smaller openings of less than 1.5 inches as starlings won’t fit through. In this case, consider buying birdhouses that have been designed explicitly with suitable sizes for only your birds.
More importantly, practice proper nest management to ensure that they don’t begin using your bird’s nesting options. It is essential to know that it is legally accepted to get rid of stalling eggs and nests but not for other birds.
4. Try Seasonal Tactics
If nothing works to manage the starling problems, you can try a few seasonal tricks and see if they’ll help keep these birds away. Starlings are best known to show up more often during the summertime than winter. By using a caged tube feeder for your birds during the summer months, you can keep away starlings and grackles.
5. Scare Them Away
Starlings quickly get scared to death when they get distracted using unusual things in the surrounding. Be sure to try the following options for scaring off a large flock of starlings that have invaded your backyard.
Loud noises – Playing loud music or alarm calls through a speaker is one way you can use to scare off starlings. Besides, use a gas-controlled exploding gadget that produces a loud yet startling sound after going off. These loud sounds tend to startle these birds, and it will be impossible to nest in such spots.
Consider shifting the sound devices to different areas in your yard at intervals of few days for ultimate efficiency. What’s more, using mimic sounds of their predator birds can incredibly help. But, don’t use ultra-sonic sound systems as the starlings won’t hear the frequency.
Use scarecrows – Scary sounds work perfectly with visual scare. Therefore, create objects that look frightening like scarecrows, fake hawks, folks, or owls to deter away starlings.
Place shiny objects on your yard – Setting up shiny objects with large eyes or blinking lights can effectively help frighten and force starlings out of your vicinity. You can add reflective straps, shiny balloons, mirrors, or any other shiny objects that can work pretty well. Make sure you move these visual devices around your home frequently so that these birds don’t get adapted to them.
6. Clear Backyard Forests and Vegetation
If your backyard has dense forests and bushes, you should consider clearing them down. Usually, starlings like also to nest in such forested and overgrown wasteland. So, consider pruning the tree branches to expose them more and find it hard to shelter there. Be sure not to prune the treetops as this would encourage lateral branches to sprout rapidly to create an environment that starlings like to nest.
7. Use Funnel Traps With Food Baits
Have you tried the above techniques on how to get rid of starlings without any success? Well, you can try setting traps with food baits to capture some of the starling population. Even though traps may not be an efficient option for catching many starlings, a trap can help control the starlings’ population throughout the year.
Funnel traps are super easy and effective to use. Just place a wire funnel trap on the ground and attach a few berries or grains inside the trap. The starlings will definitely enter the trap through the funnel’s wide-end feed on the bait and eventually get stuck.
When setting the trap, try to do so at about 3meters from the closest building. This will prevent the starlings from getting scared away from the traps. However, the traps may involve a lot of work, including moving the starlings far away from your home to release them.
8. Get Rid of All Standing Water
Starlings can easily get attracted to puddles filled with water or birdbaths, where they relax and play around. If you have such spots around your backyard or birdfeeders, it would be best to drain all the water spots and fill the puddles with soil or rocks. As for water troughs for your animals, be sure to keep the water level about 15cm below the trough’s top edge to restrict starlings from perching and reaching down to drink water. Besides, keep the water to a depth of at least 7.6cm deep.
9. Install an Electric Track
Setting up an electrified track is another excellent way to keep away starlings from your yard. In this case, you’ll need to lay the track along the possible surfaces these pest birds may land on. So, the track will deliver a light electric shock upon contact.
The shock may not be powerful to the extent that it is dangerous to other birds. However, it is sufficient enough to remind starlings that they should keep off.
10. Fright Kites
Fright Kites often have designs that look like birds of prey. The idea is that these pests can’t distinguish the kites from something real, which scares them away. This technique can be an excellent choice, especially if you are searching for an effective and humane way to regulate your starling’s specific problem.
History of European Starlings
European Starlings are not supposed to be in the U.S. They were first brought to North America from Europe 1890 to 1891 by Eugene Schieffelin. It is believed that Eugene freed about 50 mating pairs of birds at Central Park, New York. He had the intention of introducing all the birds stated in Shakespeare’s plays regarding North America.
Their ability to prey on nearly anything and adapt to the human environment is very uncanny. By 1940, this bird had already spread out across the country, extending to the west coast. And today, the population of starlings nationwide is over 2 million.
Sadly, the potential risks these birds have to a particular ecosystem were not well-versed during that period. While the European Starling is inborn to Europe and Asia, it has spread to other countries like Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. Regardless of the countries these birds are in, they are seen as pests, and therefore many people seek ways on how to get rid of starling.
Problems Associated with Starlings
1. Compete with Other Birds for Nests
Starlings usually offer stiff competition for nesting cavities with birds like woodpeckers and bluebirds. The males can be very aggressive when searching for nesting spots, displacing other birds already in the nests. Besides, they tend to destroy other birds’ nesting materials, make holes in the eggs, and kill the offspring in such nests.
What’s more, starlings make their nests right above other birds’ nests. They also sometimes burry other bird’s eggs and hatchlings. And once starlings claim a nesting spot, they’ll fiercely safeguard it from their predators such as kestrels and screech owls. Occasionally, they may kill other birds for no reason.
2. Starlings Carry Diseases
These pest birds have been for long known to be disease carriers. Most of the diseases can be easily transferred to livestock and human beings. Some of these diseases include:
• Two fungal diseases
• Four protozoan diseases
• Five bacterial diseases
• Six viral diseases
Starling’s feces, for instance, have Histoplasmosis, an airborne fungal disease that’s easily spread when the fungal spores breathe. Often, the symptoms are pretty mild and may disappear without notice. Unfortunately, this disease has resulted in death and blindness among humans.
3. They’re Dangerous for the Ecosystem
Starlings may badly affect the ecosystem in ways you can’t imagine. And as stated earlier, these pest birds tend to attack and evict other bird species from their comfortable nests. Apart from that, they invade larger flocks, snatch and steal food from other birds, and transmit life-threatening diseases to animals and humans.
Moreover, they are believed to have caused massive losses for the agricultural industry from 800 million to billion dollars every year. They eat or contaminate livestock foods, feed on crops, and transmit diseases, killing animals.
4. They Invade in Large Numbers
To add to other problems above, they cause more problems as they move in large flocks known as murmurations of over 10,000 birds. In such a case, aircraft transportation is greatly affected and may result in plane crashes and deaths.
5. Extremely Loud
Since these pest birds are migrating in large numbers, they may cause noise pollution. If they find a spot to perch in massive numbers, they create extremely loud noises, affecting residential areas.
Because of these reasons, there is no doubt that European starlings we should do everything we can to eliminate them for good.
To this end, we can say that the European Starling is a highly invasive bird species and not in-born to the U.S. even though they first came as pretty looking birds, many people turned to hate them due to their aggressive and bullying nature.
If you intended to find the various approaches on how to get rid of starlings that have become a major problem to the birds at your feeder spots, then feel free to try several of the tips above before it’s too late. Best of luck!
- In the interest of keeping pests away, we’ve written another article which can help you keep squirrels away from your bird feeders. A lot of these feeders will work for large birds like starlings as well.
- Birding, like any hobby, comes with its own humorous lore. Just like nature enthusiasts in the Pacific Northwest having “big foot”, the birding communities has the The Mythical Blue Cardinal.