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How To Get Rid Of Starlings: Techniques To Keep Them Away

starling on a tree branch

It's amazing that such tiny birds, about 20 cm long, can be so aggressive, annoying, and noisy.

Have I skipped any other word that describes them?

On some days...

Starlings will have you standing guard near your bird feeder so that smaller birds can eat peacefully. On other days, you'll be shooing starlings away because they're too noisy and they're about to give you a headache.

It's time to let them know they're unwelcome. I'll tell you how to get rid of starlings so you can enjoy birding like before.

Why Get Rid Of Starlings?

Starlings deserve as much love and attention as other birds because they are intriguing creatures. Have you watched them in a murmuration? They form one of the most electrifying sights in nature as thousands of starlings dance in the sky - swooping and diving.

But, when the dance ends, they invade the open landscapes where there's plenty of food, water, and safety from predators. If your backyard fits that description, you'll have hundreds to thousands of bills to feed. That's when they become a nuisance.


  • Increase the cost of bird feeding
  • Arrive in flocks taking over your backyard
  • May kick out other nesting birds
  • Take over the bird feeder
  • Nest in cavities, even in buildings and roofs

Do you see how having them around can get out of hand?

Thus, here are...

The Most Effective Ways Of Getting Rid Of Starlings

Starlings aren't even supposed to be in the US in the first place. But thanks to an amateur ornithologist whose love for Shakespeare overtook reasoning, these birds have found a home here since the late 1800s.

Eugene Schieffelin, the ornithologist we’re talking about, released an unknown number of starlings in his desire to fill the skyline with all birds mentioned by Shakespeare. The outcome; a disaster. Now, we have to eliminate them to enjoy birding.

So, here's how to keep starlings away from bird feeders:

Get A Starling Proof Bird Feeder

bird feeder in a cage

The reason you have flocks of starlings visiting your backyard is the sumptuous treats you have in your bird feeder. It's so easy for them to raid it that they'll even become aggressive and stop other birds from feeding there.

As much as it hurts to deny them access to food, you'll have to do it soon, or they'll make bird feeding very expensive for you. So, where do you start?

Starlings don't like a small perch. They have a hard time resting on one, and they also don't know how to cling upside down on a bird feeder.

Further, they don't like weight-sensitive bird feeders, the ones that swing shut when a heavy bird perches. As you shop for a new bird feeder, bear those three points in mind.

If you're not planning on getting a new one, here are some tips to make your old feeder starling-proof:

  • Place your existing feeder in a cage where starlings can't reach the seeds. It'll curb both starlings and squirrels. The downside is that only small birds can feed, so you might lock out larger birds you like.
  • Remove water baths and drain any water sources in your backyard until you’ve rid yourself of the starling menace. Other birds will suffer in the short term, but they’ll enjoy the freedom of feeding without annoying starlings in the long term.
  • Prune trees or other landing spots near your bird feeder so that flocks of starlings have no place to perch. They live in flocks for protection from predators. Consequently, they won’t feel safe when the trees are so open they can’t hide when predators attack. 
  • Other birds move in smaller flocks, and they don’t mind pruned trees.

When you've done all that and starlings think you've come to play, it's time for a second move.

Remove Foods They Like

It'll prove to them that they have no business invading your backyard as there are no insects, worms, or caterpillars in the feeder.

Other foods that make them love your backyard are cracked corn, sunflower kernels, corn suet, millet, and mealworms.

sunflower seeds in palm

They also love human food; therefore, you may spot them around your trash looking for leftovers.

Once you've removed all of these items, it's time to add what they'll never touch. Remember, they have slender bills that can't pop open the thick outer shells of some seeds.

For that reason, fill your bird feeder with striped sunflower seeds because their shell is harder than the shell of black seeds. Woodpeckers can crack them open, but starlings can't.

Other foods that deter starlings are unshelled peanuts, safflower, and nyjer seeds.

On top of that, put some food starlings seem to eat just for the sake of not staying idle as they destroy the peace in your backyard. I'm talking about black-oil sunflower seeds.

If that doesn't make them leave for good...

Clear Their Nesting Grounds

Starlings build nests in trees, between buildings, and in foliage. In essence, they build nests in any cavity available. Thus, they may aggressively block other birds from using nest boxes.

First, if you have nest boxes, reduce the size of the nest hole to under 1.5 inches so that only small birds like wrens will use it. Then cover vents, pipes, and wall cavities to stop them from nesting inside.

Clear dry grass and shrubs in your backyard to reduce humid grounds where worms and insects can hide. That way, there’ll be no food for starlings and no dry grass to insulate nests.

They repair these nests until the young ones fledge.

Once nesting is over, they leave the nests to decompose. When your backyard has hundreds of nesting starlings, the stretch is unfathomable.

Clean Up Under Bird Feeders

black bird feeder house

Fallen bird seeds and suet provide food to flocks when they have limited access to the bird feeder. These bird seeds also mix with waste making them unhealthy for all birds.

Fallen seeds also attract squirrels and predators.

For an easy cleaning process:

  • Rotate the feeder around your backyard so that you have time to clean the previous position. You can rotate it monthly to give each spot time to decompose.
  • Layer the ground with mulch so that fallen seeds drop into it and decompose.
  • Place a seed tray under the bird feeder to reduce seed wastage on the ground. Empty the tray regularly.
  • Reduce the seeds in the feeder so that it holds just what birds can eat.

On trees...

Use Bird Netting

Starlings may also frequent your backyard if there are fruit trees. Consequently, if you have a fruit garden, consider using bird netting. It stops them from both feeding and nesting in trees.

Get bird netting that is small enough to prevent these unwanted avian friends from reaching your trees but big enough so that they don't get trapped.

Here's how to set up bird netting for your garden:

So far, you've destroyed their bed and breakfast. Next, give starlings sleepless days and nights using,

A Sound Device

Play a pre-recorded deterrent call of a predator or the distress calls of birds. Set up the sound device before the flock of starlings arrive, as it's difficult to control them when they've already settled in numbers.

If your neighbors also have a starling infestation in their backyards, you can coordinate the effort so that you drive them away for good. Play the ultrasonic repeller call tape as soon as birds appear in small flocks. When they perch in large numbers, their noise will drown the distress call.

That being so...

Use Scare Devices

It's time to frighten them. Popular scare devices are pie tins, owl effigies, and mirrors. Mount them near their roosting grounds without obstructing other birds from reaching the feeder.

If you have young bird lovers in your home, they can help you mount a life-size falcon kite. It'd be quite an experience to do it with kids and hear their delighted giggles when these kites frighten starlings.

Nonetheless, these scare devices and bird repellents have the most work because you have to move them frequently lest starlings become accustomed. Have you thought about getting a fake owl? Check the last section of this article to find out if it's a good idea.

Unconventional Ways Of Getting Rid Of Starlings

Installing Traps

If you want a recurring headache caused by starlings, install traps. You may trap and release a few birds; however, more will show up months later to occupy the nests and feed on your bird food.

This method may also capture other birds indiscriminately. Plus, what if you maim or kill these birds?

A Motion-Activated Sprinkler System

sprinkler system for garden

Starlings live in cavities, so if you can make the holes uninhabitable, they'll stop bothering you. The water should reach all sections of your property that are possible nesting grounds. It's cost-effective to use a sprinkler with sensing technology because it only works when activated.

Additionally, it won't cause harm to birds, as is the case with traps and wire prongs. Before installing this sprinkler system, clear empty nests as moisture will make them decompose, and you won’t bear the stench.

Installing Wire Prongs

Since these birds arrive in flocks, they perch everywhere. Hence, minimize or eliminate all possible landing spots, such as ledges, using wire spikes. It's a lot of work as you have to cover window ledges, doors, and roofs.

Note, installing wire prongs on the fence can stop starlings from invading your backyard but pose a danger even to birds you want to attract. It also endangers your pets. For that reason, triangular wooden boards sound like a better option.

Install these boards on a ledge at a 45-degree angle so that starlings have nowhere to perch.

Destroying Eggs And Nests

Don't let it come to this; use other ways to scare them off your property. Why? Even if you destroy the nests of a few birds, it may not stop flocks of starlings from visiting your backyard.

Popular Questions On How To Get Rid Of Starlings

What Is The Best Way To Get Rid Of Starlings?

The best way to remove these unwanted birds is to make the place inhabitable for them. There should be no food, water, or nesting grounds for them. How can you do that? The explanation is in the answer below.

How Do You Get Rid Of Starlings And Keep The Other Birds?

The priority is preventing them from feeding on your bird food. When you cut access to food, they'll have no business bothering birds in your backyard; therefore, get a starling-proof bird feeder.

Preventing them from eating bird food is not as easy as stopping squirrels from using baffles because starlings are birds. If you block them, you’ll bar other birds altogether.

Hence, make it difficult for starlings but allow other birds to eat by reducing the size of perches and installing upside-down suet feeders. Starlings hate that.

Plus, fill your bird feeder with foods these annoying birds hate. These include safflower and nyjer seeds.

Will A Fake Owl Keep Starlings Away?

fake garden owl

Yes, it'll keep them away because starlings know owls are predators. For the first few days, starlings will stay away from your property. However, they'll cunningly test the effigy to confirm it's a live owl, and that'll be the end of your trick. Hence, use an owl alongside distress calls or other audio devices. Also, change the owl's position regularly to make its presence more natural.

Final Thoughts

Starlings will double your bird feeding budget. They don't show up in your backyard alone. No, they come in flocks and stay as long as there's food in your bird feeder.

With such large numbers taking over your backyard, your curb appeal will also be at stake. These birds nest in cavities, and they can occupy vents and cracks on walls. Even though they are small birds, they bully others and take control of the feeder.

Therefore, remove the foods they like, starling-proof your feeder, and lock them out of nest boxes so you can deter starlings. 😉

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