Springfield, Illinois

Wade Kammin, shop owner

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 Circle K on the east side of MacArthur Blvd, just north of Ash St. contact us by e-mail: wbu150@sbcglobal.net

Map This Location
 
 

* Please note - This page is written by WBU of Springfield, Illinois. We are locally owned and operated. We specialize in local, personal service and at this time, we do not ship. For those not within driving distance, you can find a WBU near you on the store locator.

(Each WBU is independently owned and product offerings may vary. Product offerings on the wbu.com on-line store are much more limited than in our local shop and generally higher priced than our local, midwest-based pricing, so shop in person when you can. Thanks, and happy birdwatching!)

 

 

NoStarling_4c (RGB, 72 DPI, 300x286)

no grackles

 

 

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

These species can inundate many a backyard feeder. 

Starlings are a non-native species and are not related to our native blackbirds. They are iridescent 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, peanut pieces, 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 (i.e., filled with seeds or grains), but will devour most common seeds readily.

 

* Please note - This page is written by WBU of Springfield, Illinois. We are locally owned and operated. We specialize in local, personal service and at this time, we do not ship. For those not within driving distance, you can find a WBU near you on the store locator.

(Each WBU is independently owned and product offerings may vary. Product offerings on the wbu.com on-line store are much more limited than in our local shop and generally higher priced than our local, midwest-based pricing, so shop in person when you can. Thanks, and happy bird watching!)

 

 




 
 
 

Option #1

1. Exclude Them!

The most effective way to avoid losing all your bird food 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 - see photo below.

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

 

suet feeder caged

suet feeder

Suet Feeders with Built-In Guards

These feeders each hold two suet cakes and will provide woodpeckers, titmice, bluebirds, Carolina wrens, nuthatches and other smaller birds with a meal while excluding starlings, blackbirds, and squirrels.

on guard peanut cage

On-Guard Protector for Peanut Feeders

This cage style guard is sold separately to fit over mesh peanut feeders, protecting the peanut pieces or Bark Butter Bits within. Small birds fly right in, while large woodpeckers can stretch their long necks and beaks to reach the food. Blackbirds cannot.

on guard cylinder feeder
A chickadee and a family of downy woodpeckers dines on a protected Cranberry Fare Cylinder.

on guard dinner bell feeder

On-Guard Protectors for Cylinder Feeder or Dinner Bell Feeder

cylinder copper cage
Made right here in Illinois, the copper finish on this guarded cylinder feeder adds a decorative touch.


on guard tube feeder

On-Guard for Tube Feeders, Perfect When Paired with a Safflower Feeder*

Because No-Mess Blend and other blends containing shell-free seeds are easier for starlings to eat, cage-style guards to protect the tube feeders in which they are served are beneficial. This guard is actually the same guard as for the peanut feeder, and fits over most of our WBU tube feeders, making it versatile should your needs change.
*In the set-up pictured, located right outside our shop, the On-Guard cage protects the No-Mess blend, while the non-caged feeder is filled with safflower seed, a seed that blackbirds don't like, yet cardinals love. This two-feeder combination is our top choice for insuring that both small birds and Cardinals get their share.

on guard woodpecker
The On-Guard cages stop squirrels and blackbirds, but large woodpeckers can still stretch their long necks and beaks to feed.
 
 

* Please note - This page is written by WBU of Springfield, Illinois. We are locally owned and operated. We specialize in local, personal service and at this time, we do not ship. For those not within driving distance, you can find a WBU near you on the store locator.

(Each WBU is independently owned and product offerings may vary. Product offerings on the wbu.com on-line store are much more limited than in our local shop and generally higher priced than our local, midwest-based pricing, so shop in person when you can. Thanks, and happy birdwatching!)

 

 

 

 

Option #2

2. 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.

 

Squirrel Proof Classic
Squirrel-Proof with Adjustable Baffle


This feeder can be used several ways. As pictured, it's a great, all-purpose, squirrel-proof feeder. If you lower the weather/squirrel guard, the tighter spacing makes the feeder difficult for larger birds to use. For an additional challenge, the perches can be reduced, making it extremely hard for starlings to cling onto.

 

 

 
 

* Please note - This page is written by WBU of Springfield, Illinois. We are locally owned and operated. We specialize in local, personal service and at this time, we do not ship. For those not within driving distance, you can find a WBU near you on the store locator.

(Each WBU is independently owned and product offerings may vary. Product offerings on the wbu.com on-line store are much more limited than in our local shop and generally higher priced than our local, midwest-based pricing, so shop in person when you can. Thanks, and happy birdwatching!)

 


 

 

Option #3

3. 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 block

simply suet

 


Woodpeckers will enjoy Simply Suet, but most starlings don't care for it.


Oregon Suet Block & Simply Suet
Neither of these suets seem 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 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 suet varieties 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, titmice (pictured) 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 flies 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.

Safflower2

cylinder safflower

Safflower and Safflower Cylinders

Because of the hard shell on safflower seed, which starlings can't crack, 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. Safflower is 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 (doves- loose safflower only), while being avoided by most squirrels and blackbirds. A two-feeder combination of safflower in a non-cageg feeder and a WBU blend in a caged feeder is our top choice for insuring that both small birds and Cardinals get their favorite foods.


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. We are locally owned and operated. We specialize in local, personal service and at this time, we do not ship. For those not within driving distance, you can find a WBU near you on the store locator.

(Each WBU is independently owned and product offerings may vary. Product offerings on the wbu.com on-line store are much more limited than in our local shop and generally higher priced than our local, midwest-based pricing, so shop in person when you can. Thanks, and happy birdwatching!)