Humane way to deter Red-winged blackbirds away from a garden?

slowgardenJuly 15, 2013

I know I have posted on this subject in the past; forgive me but I couldnâÂÂt find it back, and I still have the same problemâ¦

I love Red-winged blackbirds when I see them in the fields and wetlands. I am a country boy, and this is one of the birds of my youth! But we live in the suburbs, and they have become quite invasive here. Not exactly a pleasant garden bird, this for two reasons: they are always aggressive around nesting sites and never seem to understand that you want them no harm (unlike some other garden bird species); and their frequent alarm calls are high-pitched, loud and piercing. We have an ageing cat, strictly kept indoors or on a leash (for short and monitored periods), that never hurt a fly. When we put it on its leash in the backyard, the RWBs will go crazy with those alarm calls⦠Even when the cat is soaking it up in the solarium, the RWBs will somehow detect its reflection or something and go crazy with alarm calls⦠Other times, the cat is down in the basement, there is NOTHING alarming I can see around⦠I am working quietly in my home office, then those RWB calls come piercing the air again near my windowâ¦

I was thinking about using some of those CDs with bird alarm calls (from different species, obviously! And/or from squirrels perhaps). I could easily install a small speaker cabinet in a remote part of our lot, and play this randomly and from time to time to attract the blackbirds away from our day-to-day activities or working or resting spots, or alert them well away altogether!

Does that sound like a good, practical idea to you?

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I sure hope I didn't hurt ecofriendly sensibilities with this post of mine.

I was wondering also, perhaps, do nesting Red-winged blackbirds in suburban garden environments actually behave so aggresively as to discourage other desirable bird species from nesting close to humans? I find things surprisingly quiet here outside the RWB's activities, Vs. Black-capped chickadees, Northern cardinals and Song sparrows, to name three otherwise common nesting species in local gardens, including our own, before RWB appeared in the picture (which is of relatively recent date)... Just a thought.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 11:11AM
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Hi- thought for sure you'd have some responses by now. Since they're nesting, I don't believe there's much you can do to deter them at this point. They are usually very protective birds but I didn't know that they'll nest so closely in someone's backyard. Usually they like to nest in swamps amongst cattails and rushes.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 11:32AM
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Hi there! Yes they have been nesting very closely to human settlements in recent years, here at least. What seems to attract them, as far as I can see, is a good number of swimming pools among our immediate neighbours, including one or two in-ground ones, plus we have lots of cedar (Thuja occidentalis) on and around our lot, and they always nest in these here. ...I'd probably rather endure those blackbirds than go without the cedars BTW! Thanks for the comment!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 2:56PM
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Blackbird squabbles bothered me, with one pair attacking another pair's baby, etc. Plus they would try to roost on my house. And peck at all my growing things. So, since I have soil with plenty of small rocks I started waving my arms and then throwing rocks NEAR them, not at them. After a few days they learned that arm-waving precedes the rocks, and they would fly away. Next I would slam a door or sliding window before going outside to waive my arms. Persistence paid off and from then on the blackbirds were deterred from spending much time at my place just by slamming a window or door. The next year they only needed a few days of re-training. My neighbors down the street often have fifty blackbirds on their property. I seldom have any.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 10:30AM
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