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Backyard Bird Feeding

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Startling Starling Explosion [Dec. 7th, 2007|08:52 am]
Backyard Bird Feeding

bird_feeding

[idic_writer]
[Current Location |The Jonestead]
[mood |curiouscurious]

Ok, it wasn't that dramatic, but fun to type!

My hubby and I just started birdwatching this summer, and within the last month I'm finding our seed, suet and peanut feeders are overrun with starlings! They seem to bully the smaller birds and are great hogs. Should I be concerned? Is there anything I can do to discourage them or since we haven't seen them until now is this just a seasonal change?

We live in Cincinnati, Ohio. :)
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: crystal_tree
2007-12-08 05:12 am (UTC)
When I lived in the Chicago area, I used to get starlings at my feeders often. They seemed to prefer just eating off the ground, and tended to stay there and leave the hanging feeders alone. With suet, about the only thing that kept them off was a suet cage that required the birds to hang upside down underneath to eat from it. The woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches handle that kind just fine, but it's not starling-friendly. Are you familiar with that kind of suet feeder? As far as the seed feeders... what kind of seed do you use? I've noticed that starlings don't like plain sunflower seed as much as cracked corn or mixed seed. So maybe if you put sunflower only in the hanging feeders, that might help.

Here in Wisconsin, I only get starlings once in a great while, usually in late winter or early spring. They must like to stay further south when the weather gets cold. You might find that they come and go in your area, too.
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[User Picture]From: idic_writer
2007-12-08 01:26 pm (UTC)

After posting yesterday I saw this link:

http://www.shawcreekbirdsupply.com/discourage_species.htm

And they recommend:

"To discourage starlings: Feed thistle seed, sunflower hearts, and fruits only. Stop feeding sunflower seed in the shell, suets and all mixed seeds. Starlings will not stay around long if they are not getting the foods they like from your feeders. However, if you want to divert them away from your feeders, then set out a suet feeder away from your main feeding area."

The suet feeder we use is a small wire cage that attaches upright to the pole holding the other feeders, so I don't thinking hanging it differently will change much. I did as an experiment move the suet feeder onto a tree branch a distance from our pole feeders. I notice that the starlings gobble the suet so maybe this will distract them. Then I brought the seed feeders in and left them off the pole a few hours. Filling only the seed feeder then I hung it back out and left the peanut feeder inside awhile to see what will happen at the pole.

We use a seed mix which includes sunflower seed in the shell, and until recently were giving peanut pieces in the wire tube feeder. Then we switched the latter to a woodpecker mix since we've been enjoying a couple of species in our yard. It contains peanuts *and* seed, so I suspect this might be what tipped us into Starling Smorgasboard. :)

Anyway, if this doesn't work I'll go out and explain to them that the weather in Wisconsin is really great right now. :D
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[User Picture]From: kookaburra1701
2007-12-08 08:51 am (UTC)
I used to get starlings- they would eat a whole suet block in an hour! But then I started putting out corn and peanuts, and that brings in the jays. They chased the starlings off, and while they do hog suet, they leave the seed feeders alone. Also, I like watching their crazy antics.
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[User Picture]From: idic_writer
2007-12-08 01:28 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the tip!

I haven't been getting many jays but wouldn't mind. Do you use peanuts in the shell or peanut pieces?
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[User Picture]From: kookaburra1701
2007-12-08 06:31 pm (UTC)

Re: Thanks for the tip!

In the shell. I use a "squirrel mix" that doesn't get any attention from the squirrels, but brings in jays, chickadees, and turkeys like mad. It's in a old pie plate vintage dish feeder near the ground. The jays will battle like WWI flying aces to get the peanuts. It's great fun. The mix contains whole corn, black oil sunflower seeds in shells, and whole peanuts.
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[User Picture]From: idic_writer
2007-12-08 06:44 pm (UTC)

Re: Thanks for the tip!

Hey thanks that helps alot. :) I see the suet is the big draw for the starlings. Once they found where I moved the suet feeder they FLOCKED to it! And all the usual culprits are back at the seed feeder!
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