natureboy(5/6 IN)March 21, 2006

Ok, I love to feed the birds and usually do so year-round. But lately, with the warmer weather, our neighborhood has been inundated by waves of nasty black grackles. As I sit here and look out the window, there are scores of them perched on my feeders. I absolutely hate these trash birds... right along with starlings and cowbirds. I have downy woodpeckers, cardinals, finches, titmice, and chickadees that aren't able to feed at my feeders because the bullies won't go away.

Does anyone have any suggestions at all on deterring these varmints. Unfortunately they're protected by federal law under some migration treaty. I really don't want to spend a small fortune on safflower seed (which they don't like) especially because I have a number of feeders. I'm planning on just waiting until the feeders are empty and not refilling, hoping they will go elsewhere. However, I've done that once already and it didn't work. I guess I'm just really frustrated and I can't get rid of the nasty, ugly, wastes of feather and flesh. Here we are having a whopper spring snow storm and the only birds getting any good out of my feeders are the lepers of the avian world. If I offend anyone because you have an affinity for grackles, I appologize, but really.... grackles?

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My guess is that the grackles will move through your neighborhood, and disperse. This time of year, we see wave after wave of ducks, cranes, and songbirds moving north.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 2:42PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

Grackles, starlings, sparrows and the occasional pigeon. I've lived here in IL my entire life. For those short 17 months we lived in TN, I never even saw a grackle, starling, pigeon or a sparrow down there (in my yard). Now, back in IL, I see sparrows. Tons and tons of sparrows. I haven't seen any grackles yet this year. Maybe because last spring I put up a couple feeders, but I had nothing but sparrows show up. I'm not feeding the sparrows. I know at our previous house up here (before the move to TN), I had grackles. The only way I could get rid of them was to quit putting any food in the feeders. I would quit for about a month. Bad part is, this is when the birds most need our help, according to what I've read anyway. Right now my yard is just beginning to try to become a wildlife habitat. Nothing is big, nothing has berries or seed yet. But again, I'm not going to feed the sparrows. Notice when there's sparrows, the grackles and the starlings all follow? When I had grackles and I bought the safflower, know what they did? They used their beak, emptying the feeders. You know the smaller tube feeders? They don't have much of a perch on them. I wonder if you bought a couple of them if that would help? Or just one to try it out?

I'm not in a new subdivision, or even an old subdivision. I'm in one the older parts of town, but my neighbors don't get into gardening, let alone gardening for wildlife. I see nothing here, except the sparrows, some sort of big black bird and the pigeons. This year I have yet to see anything else. My guess is there's nothing to attract them here. Hopefully, when my plants get some size to them, that will all change.

I didn't help much, but I share in your frustrations,


    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 9:42PM
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chrsvic(z6 OH)

We have boatloads of grackles and redwing blackbirds here now. I don't see them much at the feeders, but then its nearly dark when i get home from work.

Our neighbors have a bunch of mature red cedar trees - every night, the trees fill with cackling blackbirds. I hear the neighbors setting off what sounds like strings of firecrackers, but as near as I can tell, it doesn't faze the birds a bit.

Years ago, i witnessed a grackle attack and peck to death a house sparrow. Occasionally, even a grackle accomplishes something useful!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 9:35AM
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I think you have a solution to the problem right in your post. Either fill your feeders with safflower or stop feeding. Birds do not need human feeding to survive. Some berries are not palatable until this time of year, so the birds do have some food. You could begin planting berrying bushes this spring. The bushes not only provide food, but also cover from predators and nesting sites. This also spreads the birds making them less noticable to predators and less suseptible to disease. Grackles are native birds and, therefore, have a role in the ecosystem. They will disperse as they begin to nest. Starlings, pigeons and sparrows do not.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 6:00AM
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keilamarie(z5 Mass)


I too feed the birds year round and hate to turn away any hungry bird. However, they keep ALL other birds at bay. I am not spending $$$$$ to feed only grackles so I did what I never thought I'd do...make it impossible for them to feed at my feeder.

YES..I found a way! I'm being lazy right now not grabbing my camera and taking a picture for you but I'll try to explain it.

I have a large platform feeder with a squirrel baffle I made--see picture below.

I started at the top and wound ribbon along the outside in a spiral pattern making it impossible for them to land on the feeder. There is still enough room for even cardinals to land and eat but nothing bigger, this also solved the issue of blue birds taking all of it and mourning doves napping in it! PLEASE be sure to secure it well and leave enough space for small birds to get out in a hurry in case of a birdie emergency! I plan to take off the ribbon in a week or so after they have moved on.

You will be surprised how fast this works as they take one look and figure out they can not land on it. On any other type of hanging feeder just make sure it doesn't spill seeds onto the ground.

Hope this helps, it solved my grackle issue in one morning!


This picture does not show the ribbon on the feeder just the feeder itself so you have an idea.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 12:41PM
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LKV_z6_CT(z6 CT)

Keilamarie - how closely spaced is the ribbon to allow cardinals but not the grackles? As they visit from the local salt marsh all season I'll have to use something more durable.

Also I love your natural look feeder - great use of the bittersweet! (at least the blasted stuff is good for neat looking feeders and furniture!).

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 1:24PM
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