Springfield, Illinois

Wade Kammin, shop owner

We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.

Springfield, Illinois

1930 S. MacArthur Blvd.
Springfield, IL 62704

Phone: (217) 789-6468
Email: Send Message

Store Hours:
Mon - Fri: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Additional Website:
Visit our other website

Comments:
We are located with easy access from all parts of Springfield and surrounding areas. We are next to the Mobile Super Pantry on the east side of MacArthur Blvd, just north of Ash St. contact us by e-mail: wbu150@sbcglobal.net

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NoStarling_4c (RGB, 72 DPI, 300x286)no grackles

 

How Do I Stop Starlings, Grackles, and Blackbirds*?

These species can inundated many a backyard feeder. 

Starlings are a non-native species and are not related to our native blackbirds. They are irridescent black with speckles. Their beaks are dark in winter (shown above) and yellow in summer.

Grackles, who are black with a purple-blue sheen to their heads, are our most common blackbirds. Red-winged blackbirds and cowbirds are other native blackbirds who may visit your feeders. 

 

*While not technically correct, all three species are commonly lumped under the term "Blackbird," and for simplicity we will use the term throughout the article unless specific clarification needs to be made.

Starlings' preferred diet consists primarily of insects and berries, but if these are hard to find, they turn to our feeders instead. Their beaks are not designed for cracking hard seed shells, so they go first for the softer suet cakes, peanuts, and other foods without shells. If those aren't available, they will even force themselves to eat hard shelled seeds. Fortunately, we do have a few tricks to eliminate Starlings from some feeders, and to slow them down at others, so your other birds can get their share of food, too.

 

The other blackbirds are more traditional seed eaters. They are less likely to bother suet, unless it is of poor quality (ie, filled with seeds or grains), but will devour most common seeds readily.

 

* Please note - This page is written by WBU of Springfield, Illinois. For those not within driving distance, you can call us at 217-789-6468 to order products. Or, find a WBU near you on the store locator. (Each WBU is independently owned and product offerings may vary.)




 
 
 

Exclude Them!

The most effective way to avoid losing all your birdfood to blackbirds is to physically prevent them from gaining access to the food.  These birds are simply too large to fit through the openings of the cages that surround the feeders below, yet smaller birds fly right through the openings in much the same way as they would fly through a fence or navigate in the dense branches of a bush.

Even the larger woodpeckers can still feed thanks to their long necks, prying beaks, and agile tongues, which can stretch to obtain food. 


These cages will also stop squirrels and quickly pay for themselves in terms of food saved.

 

suet feeder starling proof

Suet Feeder with Guard

The built-in suet chamber holds two suet cakes.Two Downy Woodpeckers demonstrate.

on guard cage for peanut feeder

On-Guard Peanut Feeder Protector

Fits over mesh peanut feeders to protect peanut pieces or Bark Butter Bits.

on guard cage for cylinder feeder

On-Guard for Cylinder Feeders or Dinner Bell Feeders

A Carolina Wren dines on a protected Cranberry Fare Cylinder.

OnGuardCage (RGB, 72 DPI, 225x300)

On-Guard for Tube Feeders

Because No-Mess Blend and other blends containing shell-free seeds are easier for starlings to eat, guards to protect tube feeders in which they are served are beneficial. This guards is actually the same guard as for the peanut feeder, and fits over most our of WBU tube feeders, making it versatile should your needs change.
 
 
 

Slow Them Down

There are a few feeders worth mentioning that starlings can use, but which are challenging enough that the starlings may not completely dominate.

 

upside down suet

Upside Down Suet Feeder

(made in USA of recycled plastic)


There are quite a few books and magazines that claim Starlings can't hang up-side down like the woodpeckers. Well, the starlings didn't read those articles and we'll be the first to say the Up-side Down Suet feeder is not foolproof. However, the challenge of accessing food from only the bottom of this feeder may be enough to keep starlings from eating an entire suet cake in one sitting. So, if you don't care for the look of the cage style protectors above, this feeder may be helpful.


 

 

clingers only
Clingers Only
 feeder


Because there are no perches or ledges on which to sit, the blackbirds do not use this feeder as easily as smaller birds, such as goldfinches, chickadees, titmice and nuthatches. Again, it will not stop all blackbirds, but can be used in an overall reduction program.

 

 

 

 
 
 

Offer Foods with Less Appeal

There are a few foods which are less palatable to blackbirds and using these in feeders that don't have guards on them can help discourage these birds from taking over.

oregon suet blocksimply suet

Oregon Suet Block & Simply Suet

Neither of these suets seems to have much appeal to starlings. Only now and then do we hear of starlings eating them, usually out of complete desperation, but we hear many great success stories from many people who come back to buy more, having had no starlings bother them at all.
Oregon Suet Block is pure suet with real insects mixed in.
(If you are a fan of tv's Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe, the making of this suet was featured in an episode.) Simply Suet is pure suet only. Both suets work for woodpeckers, though the Oregon Suet has the highest appeal.
Personally, I use our WBU Nuts and Berries or PB&J suet in the caged suet feeder shown above since those suets have the best overall appeal to woodpeckers, and I keep the Oregon Suet in my Tail Prop suet feeder for any larger woodpeckers that choose not to stretch into the cage. This dual approach keeps everyone happy.

Bonus: Squirrels don't care much for these two suets either!

Whole Peanuts 300

In-Shell Peanuts

Since starlings lack the beak strength to crack hard peanut shells, whole peanuts can successfully attract jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches and a few other species without encouraging starlings. About the only time we see starlings bother whole peanuts is if a woodpecker picks apart a shell and flys off with one peanut kernel, leaving the other kernel exposed, or if a batch of peanuts arrives with very thin or already cracked shells.

Grackles CAN crack peanut shells, so this advice applies only to starlings.

Safflower2safflower cylinder

Safflower and Safflower Cylinders

Because of its hard shell, many starlings won't gorge themselves on safflower, though some will eat it in the worst of weather. Grackles can crack the shells, but very few like the taste, so safflower will discourage the majority of them. Available as a loose seed to use in most standard feeders, or as a compressed cylinder, which is even more challenging for starlings, safflower has high appeal to cardinals, house finches, and doves, while being avoided by most squirrels and blackbirds.

BIRD TIP : Never offer bread, pizza crusts, or other similar foods. Few songbirds will eat them, yet these soft foods are extremely palatable to starlings and will act like a magnet, drawing every starling in the neighborhood.

 

 
 
 

Let Us Help

 

We hope you've found these tips and tricks useful for helping discourage blackbirds in your backyard. For more information, stop by Wild Birds Unlimited and we'll be happy to discuss the particulars of your backyard and help you create a plan to encourage the birds you want, while discouraging the ones you don't.

* Please note - This page is written by WBU of Springfield, Illinois. For those not within driving distance, you can call us at 217-789-6468 to order products. Or, find a WBU near you on the store locator. (Each WBU is independently owned and product offerings may vary.)