Solutions For Keeping Bully Birds Away From Your Feeders

‘How do I keep bully birds away from my feeders?’  This is a question I often hear from our customers. Some of these birds are here all year and some will be migrating back to their breeding grounds this spring.  House Sparrows, Starlings, Mourning Doves, Grackles and Pigeons can fall into this category.

Ruby Throated Hummingbird
Mourning Dove
House Sparrow
European Starling
Common Grackle

These birds will often come in large flocks chasing our lovely songbirds away.  As much as we love our Hummingbirds, they can also be very aggressive at their nectar feeders, chasing other Hummingbirds away. Here are some suggestions that may help you to enjoy more songbirds and less bully birds.

Favored Pinch-Waist Hummingbird Feeder
  • Sunflower seed is enjoyed by mostly all feeder birds.  To deter the larger birds from overtaking your garden feeders, consider putting up a caged feeder that will allow the smaller birds to dine in peace.
  • Safflower seed can be used in your hopper feeders.  This discourages Grackles, (and as an extra bonus,squirrels and raccoons too). Cardinals, house and purple finches, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks prefer this seed.  Mourning Doves also enjoy safflower. If you want to discourage Mourning Doves you could put up a dove guard.  The Sky Cafe Feeder has a dove guard accessory, which can be purchased separately, to deter doves from overtaking the feeder.
  • Three models of the Squirrel Buster Feeders have tension adjustments, the Squirrel Buster Plus, Legacy and Standard.  These feeders can keep the heavier birds from taking control of the feeders.  I must be honest though, sometimes they learn if they flap their wings the seed portals will open.  I have mine adjusted to allow one Grackle to feed, if another one gets on, the portals close.
  • Consider having more than one nyjer feeder using one for Nyjer seed and the other for Finch and Friends or Fine Sunflower Hearts.  Our Finch and Friends seed contains nyjer, millet and small sunflower meats.  This will attract Goldfinches, Indigo Buntings and other small birds.
  • Starlings can be very aggressive at suet feeders, especially when feeding their young.  You can discourage them by using an upside-down or caged suet feeder, or hang a squirrel baffle directly over a regular suet feeder.  Starlings dislike going to a feeder that has any kind of cover. This would also deter house sparrows.
  • Hummingbirds can also be very territorial and will guard their nectar feeders fiercely.  Offering more than one feeder, in different parts of your garden, will allow more than one Hummingbird to feed at a time.  I have a Hummingbird window feeder and another nectar feeder hanging from a garden bracket on my deck.

I hope this helps you to enjoy more songbirds over the coming months.   Our staff is always here to help you explore new possibilities.

On a separate note, over the past week I have had some customers tell me they have seen a number of Robins arriving in their yards.  Food is scarce for them at this time of year. You can help by offering mealworms, small pieces of apple, red grapes cut in half as well as raspberry, strawberry or grape jelly, (not sugar-free).  Fruit can be placed on a Platform Feeder  and if you have a Fruit Feeder for Orioles, jelly can be added to them.

Happy Birding!

Author – Jane Paradis

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