My bird feeding station has been designed with care to prevent, repel, deter, and get rid of starlings.


And before you say that I should feed all of God’s creatures with a smile on my face, I want you to know that I wholeheartedly disagree!

*Click here to skip directly to the 3 strategies that help stop starlings!*


Here are the four reasons why I try to keep European Starlings, also known as “rat birds,” out of my backyard:


Starlings are aggressive!


One of the best reasons to get rid of starlings is because they are aggressive towards other birds, and it’s not surprising to witness them attacking and scaring away other species from my feeders.


The Cornell Lab of Ornithology collected thousands of observations from backyard bird watchers across the country to analyze the dominance hierarchy between birds at feeders. For example, if two birds wanted to be on the same perch, The Cornell Lab wanted to see who won and scared the other away.


Are you surprised to learn that starlings rarely were pushed around by any other species?


Starlings travel in large flocks!


We have already established that starlings are aggressive and scare away less passive songbirds.


The other problem arises with the fact that starlings don’t travel solo. These loud, raucous birds generally arrive in large flocks, completing taking over your feeding station. I feel bad for any other species that try to sneak in for a quick bite.

keep starlings away from bird feeders

Instead of just one bully coming to your feeder, starlings are like a gang of battle-tested warriors ready to fight any other birds standing in their way.


Starlings will put a dent in your wallet!


This statement should come as no surprise. What do you think is going to happen to your bird food supply when 30 starlings show up to gorge themselves?!


Starlings are invasive to the United States!


Did you know that starlings aren’t even supposed to be here? Back in 1890, forty starlings were brought over from Europe and released in New York City’s Central Park. The man responsible (Eugene Schieffelin) had a mission to introduce all of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays in North America.


The rest is history as starlings easily conquered the continent, along the way outcompeting many of our beautiful native birds. Their ability to eat almost anything and adapt to human development is uncanny to no other species, except maybe the House Sparrow.


Thanks for nothing Eugene!


Do you see any starlings in my yard?


Even implementing the strategies listed below, starlings are extremely hard to prevent in your backyard!


Here is a LIVE look at my bird feeding station. You may see a starling right now being obnoxious (especially during the cold winter months!)

Now let’s talk about 3 effective ways to get rid of European Starlings!


1. Choose Your Food Wisely.


This strategy is my favorite way to keep starlings away from bird feeders.


Let’s look at the body type of a European Starling. Specifically, take a closer look at their beak.

foods that repel starlings and deter starlings

The shape of a starlings beak is long, pointy, and soft, which is perfect for eating invertebrates such as insects, spiders, worms, snails, and caterpillars. Their beak also allows them to eat fruit, grains, and smalls seeds.


If you are using any of the below foods at your feeding station, then you are at risk for a starling invasion!


Foods that attract starlings to your backyard:


Cracked corn: Starlings can’t resist cracked corn, and it might be their favorite food! Remove immediately to help get rid of starlings.

Sunflower kernels/chips: Because of their soft and pointy bills, starlings like any seed that has already been cracked open, such as sunflower chips.

Suet with corn, peanuts, etc.: In my backyard, starlings go crazy for suet, but only if it has cracked corn, peanuts, or other shelled seed inside. If I just put out plain suet, they tend to leave it alone.

Shelled peanuts:


Mealworms: Invertebrates make up a large portion of a starlings diet in nature, so this is not surprising.

Bread or other human food: There is a reason starlings thrive living around people. They love many of the same things we eat!


So what foods keep starlings away from our bird feeders?


Knowing which types of food that starlings don’t prefer is critical in your quest to prevent them. Small shifts in the foods I offer in my feeding station has made an enormous difference in keeping them away.


Because of their slender and soft break, starlings have trouble eating any food that has a thick outer shell. Their break doesn’t provide the type of leverage or power needed to crack open.


Foods that help deter starlings:


Black-oil sunflower: Starlings will eat black-oil sunflower, but in my humble opinion they don’t seem to love it. If you have a big starling problem, you may also need to remove black-oil sunflower, but luckily I have not had many issues offering it.

Striped sunflower: Starlings are not able to open the thick shell!

Safflower: The miracle seed! Starlings, squirrels, and other blackbird species don’t care for safflower, but most other feeder birds (cardinals, chickadees, etc.) eat it willingly.

Peanuts in the shell: A starling’s wimpy beak can’t break open.

Nyjer: Too small for starlings to bother.

Suet: When I buy pure rendered white suet without ANY other ingredient added, the starlings leave it alone. It seems that only woodpeckers are attracted to pure suet. Starlings go crazy over suet if it has corn, peanuts, and other tasty treats included.


And there you have it.


Being aware of the foods in my backyard is the central part of my starling prevention strategy.


2. Use a starling proof bird feeder.


A great way to keep starlings away from your bird feeders is to buy one that they physically CAN’T use.


The good news is that deploying a starling proof bird feeder will stop starlings from feeding. The bad news is that the feeder will also prevent any other medium size bird or larger from eating, including many that you want to see!


Here are three feeder styles that prevent starlings you can try:


Caged bird feeders:

A metal cage encloses the feeder. The holes are small enough to keep starlings (and squirrels) away, but big enough to let most smaller songbirds through to feed.

starling proof bird feeder

Woodlink caged tube feeder Check Price - Amazon


Weight sensitive feeders:

These feeders can typically be adjusted to close when a certain amount of weight is applied.


I own the Absolute II hopper bird feeder below, and it’s one of the favorites in my backyard.

Absolute II hopper feeder  View $ on Amazon

If needed, I can make the perches incredibly sensitive to weight, where all but the smallest songbirds, like chickadees and finches, push the perch down to close access to the bird food.


Upside-down suet feeders:

I thoroughly enjoy feeding suet to woodpeckers in my backyard. The problem is that starlings also LOVE eating most varieties of mixed suet.


One way around this is to purchase a suet feeder that forces birds to cling and feed upside down. Woodpeckers have no problem with this method, but starlings don’t particularly enjoy eating like this.

Birds Choice Upside-Down Suet Feeder  View $ on Amazon 


My upside-down suet feeder has done a great job preventing starlings from devouring all my suet. Unfortunately, my woodpeckers also don’t seem to like it as much as my regular 2-cake suet feeder.


My final thoughts on starling proof bird feeders:


If you have a big starling problem in your backyard, it may be best to combine strategies! Use starling proof bird feeders along with foods that they don’t enjoy.


For example, you could put striped sunflower, safflower, and whole peanuts in your hopper, tube, or tray feeders. Then put food that starlings love like sunflower chips, peanut pieces, or cracked corn inside a starling proof bird feeder.


3. Discourage starlings from nesting in your backyard.


Starlings are cavity nesters and prefer using vents and other small openings around your house to build nests and raise their young.


I live in a suburban neighborhood and commonly see starlings flying in and out of the vents located on the sides of almost every home.


Luckily as a homeowner, it’s an easy fix to prevent starlings from nesting in your vents. Simply seal any opening with a vent cover. Many are made specifically to keep birds out AND still function normally.


Nest boxes must be monitored!

get rid of starlings from nestboxes

As cavity nesters, starlings are naturally attracted to any nestbox in your backyard. To keep them away there a few things you can do.


First, select a nestbox that has a hole diameter of less than 1.5 inches (3.8 cm). This hole size is too small for starlings to fit through.


If your nest box is large enough for starlings, then it’s going to take active management on your behalf to ensure that they aren’t nesting inside. During Spring and Summer, my advice is to monitor your boxes daily and remove starling nests and eggs as soon as you see them. (Since European Starlings are invasive and not native to North America, they are not protected by The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which means humane destruction of nests and eggs is allowed.)


Many starlings prefer using the same nesting location year after year, so it’s vital to make sure they never start using your nest boxes!


I really don’t hate starlings as much as you think.


In this post, I have spent the entire time beating up on starlings and providing ways to keep them away from your bird feeders.


But now that they are under control in my backyard I don’t hate European Starlings as much as I used too. It’s even nice to see them once in a while. Their iridescent black plumage can be stunning when viewed in the right light, and their ability to mimic the sounds of other birds is impressive. I even respect the fact they are incredibly adaptable and have thrived in an ever-changing landscape.


But do you want to know my favorite thing about starlings?


It’s the magical way they travel in enormous flocks, called murmurations. See the video below for an incredible display! It’s absolutely mesmerizing.  The action starts at about the 25-second mark.


Final Thoughts


If you want to prevent starlings and stop them from coming to your bird feeders, I have found these three effective strategies work:


  • Offer foods that starlings don’t eat. 

  • Use starling proof bird feeders.

  • Eliminate potential starling nest locations.


I’d like to hear some feedback.


What is your favorite way to prevent, deter, and repel starlings?


How do you stop them from taking over your backyard feeding station?


31 responses to “3 Proven Ways To Get Rid of Starlings TODAY”

  1. Trina says:

    Hi Scott,
    I to have problems with starlings but I’m getting
    them under control I’m down to
    about 6 or 7 everyday now but my question is
    how long do you leave the safflower out before
    they decide to move on?

  2. Allan Eaton says:

    blue jays , grackles , woodpeckers & grey squirrels also eat nestlings!

  3. Maureen says:

    Elizabeth, are you in an area that’s secluded so you don’t have to worry about neighbors? I would love to use a pellet gun, which I know will be much more effective than my slingshot, but am concerned about neighbors. I HAVE hit two starlings so far, though 🙂

  4. Kellbell says:

    I have literally tried everything from upside down feeders to safflower seed to Domed feeders, they adapt. I only feed black oil sunflower seed, they LOVE it. I tried only safflower seed, nothing and I mean nothing ate it, I waited months and even the Rose Breasted Grosbeaks didn’t want it. I’m at my wits end here. I’ve taken feeders away for weeks only to have all of them come back the day I put them back out in a different spot. I laughed at others saying about their neighbors, I’m sure mine think I’m crazy screaming at these birds, running out there with a broom all day lol. I am going to try the wireless doorbell that’s about three only thing I haven’t tried. But for me these birds have adapted to every method I’ve tried and I’m sadly about to concede. I am a bird nerd and love feeding all my beautiful birds but I can’t afford 40lbs of food a day yes they literally eat this much. Anyone has any other ideas not mentioned above, I’m all ears.

  5. Debby says:

    I had a big problem with starlings eating the dried mealworms for my lovely bluebirds. But I bought a bluebird feeder with a roof that opens on one half of the top and holes in the sides. It was a bit difficult for the bluebirds to access it but I made some great adjustments.
    My husband drilled small holes under the round openings and I put a stick in them all the way through. (Like an orchid stick.) The bluebirds perch on this and they are able to get inside. I also drilled an entrance hole in the clear viewing plastic side and put a small perch here too.
    Just make sure the perches are only long enough to fit tiny bluebird feet.

    This set-up entirely solved my starling vs bluebird problem.

  6. Heather Wiese says:

    That video of the murmuration was terrifying. Imagine how loud it would be. And those girls were stuck in a canoe. Cool seeing it safely behind a phone screen though.

    I dealt with the starlings, now sparrows are the ones I’m having a problem with. They eat everything, even safflower. And they cling onto my finch sock.

  7. Gloria Weston-Webb says:

    Well we have a problem with starlings and don’t want to stop other birds visiting, especially our blue Jay. My husband has put a wireless doorbell on the bird table, which does not bother the birds. When we have an influx of starlings watching from our kitchen window, we press the portable bell push and with the chime the starlings disappear. We found the starlings are getting lesser by degree, but obviously only works when you are at home.

  8. gary wellendorf says:

    so glad to know i’m not the only one acting crazy over these ” loud squaking pooping pains in the — birds” I wonder what my neighbors think of me standing outside yelling at these birds with a hose in my hand. I will say one thing the sound of the hose sends them scattering. lol. and I really enjoy the stubborn ones that will stand there ground and stare me down untill the blast of water knocks them of their feet!!!!! love your site always helpful thanks

  9. Kim says:

    lol just read this. I have also email the university on how to keep the starlings away from my new hatchling doves. (Other then a spray bottle, clap etc) I do know that they will grab a baby bird! They are everywhere now in my yard!! I stopped feeding the birds when I noticed the Mourning Doves were nesting! What do I have to do grab my broom and start scaring them! These baby doves will be dropping to the ground soon and I have enjoyed watching the parents switch shift and now I have two hatchlings. The female gave it away the other day when I watched her carry empty eggshells out of the nest! I am not about to watch a CAT, STARLING, SQUIRREL or any other creature KILL THESE BABY DOVES ONCE THEY GO TO THE GROUND TO LEARN HOW TO FLY!!!

  10. Mike says:

    I’m on the cusp of a real starling problem, but in my experience, even before the starlings, the safflower was/is always the last thing left in my feeder… I guess you’re saying that if all I offered was safflower the birds I want would still eat it and come just as frequently? I was even debating getting a mix without safflower at all until I read your post. Which of the smaller birds will eat striped sunflower? Maybe I need to go ahead and buy a special feeder instead… Thanks for the advice and direction!

    • Scott says:

      Yes, most birds prefer sunflower over safflower, but if there is nothing but safflower they have to eat it! Most songbirds have no problem eating safflower. Striped sunflower is hit and miss just depends on the species.

  11. Elizabeth Miller says:

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned that starlings eat baby birds too. I saw a starling pull a baby bluebird out of the box. That made me sick!!! So, it’s been a war ever since. I shoot them with my pellet gun. I use LEAD FREE pellets and my red-tailed hawks get starling for dinner. Hope most of you know that lead bullets, pellets, and BBs can kill raptors. They eat the animal shot and get lead poisoning.

  12. Lois Vining says:

    Hey Scott, I live in NE Ohio and have been battling starlings at our feeders for at least 15 yrs. However, changing the mixed seed for straight safflower in our hopper feeders has helped to a degree. They’ll still eat it, but they don’t empty it out every day. We recently bought a tube feeder and a cage that we keep filled with the small seed for our ‘little bitty birds’. We started having a problem with the red winged blackbirds and starlings flying up under the cage to get to the seed. Enter 1/4″ hardware cloth. I cut a square about 2″ bigger than the bottom of the cage opening, folded the corners up and secured 2 to the cage with twist ties. Problem solved! Now, my current project is to find a way to keep the starlings from taking over a red bellied woodpecker nest. Those flying rats chased them away for a wk after the cavity was completed. Hubs and I got the ladder out, grabbed 2 metal landscape fabric pins and a small hook and wedged them inside the cavity. We took all suet feeders down except the upside down and waited. Took a week, but we’re hoping they’ve moved on down the road. The male red belly showed up today, started squawking so we got the ladder out, pulled the pins out, came inside and waited. Sure enough, he came back and started calling for his mate. It took 45 min but she’s back. Now, trying to figure out how to make a cover/shield to keep the rats from coming back and trying to start the bullying again.. Any suggestions?

    • Scott says:

      Hello Lois! Well, we are basically neighbors and it’s always fun to hear from anyone local. And wow it sounds like you have really gone to war with starlings! Unfortunately, I am not incredibly handy so if it involves making something then I still need to call my dad over LOL. Sorry, I can’t be of more help!

  13. Susan Ervin says:

    I absolutely despise starlings. The bluebirds come to my yard for mealworms, passively allowing the starlings to TAKE OVER, unless I stand at the door and make loud noises to scare them away. I put packaged suet out for the woodpeckers, and peanuts in mesh feeders, then the starlings hang around ALL DAY and devour every crumb. Thank you for recommending the use of caged feeders and providing “real” suet without added seeds. I love watching the songbirds, but can’t afford to refill the feeders 3x day because of these rats. I guess spending $$ on better feeders will save $$ in birdfood in the long run. I will not give up. THIS IS WAR!

    • Scott says:

      Hey Susan. I agree with you, the more I feed birds the less I want the starlings to have ANY of the food! Good luck, it’s a hard war to win. Most days I feel like I am losing. 🙂

  14. Eric E Durnan says:

    What kind of camera do you use for your webcam? What service do you stream it to the internet on? I’d like to do this for my bird feeders too.

    I’ve been feeding birds for about 6 years now. This is the first year that Starlings are checking my stuff out. My biggest problem has been European Sparrows up until now.

    I get about the same exact birds that you do. I live in NE Iowa.

  15. Mary says:

    Starlings are all over my tiled roof. They leave their droppings every where. I can hardly go out my back door safetly. Cleaning up after them several times a day.
    My builder but some sort of merging front of the open ends of titles put they pulled it away. I have a plastic cat on the roof but they are not fooled.

    Suggestions would be very welcome to help me get rid of this plague


  16. Jared says:

    I HIGHLY recommend purchasing a suet sandwich feeder. Google it 🙂 It helped ENORMOUSLY with my starling problem, and woodpeckers love it. I like to make my own suet snack (lard, peanut butter, cornmeal, etc) and stuff it inside.

    • Scott says:

      Hello Jared! I have never seen that before. Very cool and thanks for sharing. I probably wouldn’t have tried it and thought nothing would is it, but sounds like you have had no trouble with woodpeckers? I may have to experiment! thanks again.

  17. Mary says:

    I see Starlings in your tray feeders and feeding on the ground undering the hanging feeders, lots of them. The Starlings that have taken over my feeders and driven out my homie song birds, are eating all the foods they are supposedly not suppose to like, such as in she’ll peanuts, they demolished an entire tray like an atomic bomb hit it, and in shell sunflower seeds. Anything they can get their beaks on. They they hang around digesting and intimidating my local song birds even my huge Doves. They are the nastiest birds I’ve ever seen. And yes you have plenty of them too.

    • Scott says:

      Hey Mary. Yes, starlings are the worst. They drop their waste all over the place too. They have taken over my backyard lately too. I think I’m going to switch to all safflower until they decide to go bother someone else!!!

  18. Al Jacobs says:

    There are starlings everywhere in those feeders!

  19. Barb says:

    Thank you for the note about peanuts/ peanut suet then too, I would guess. Have you shared what you might add to the suet from the market? could I add just Safflower?I have an upside down feeder that now has 4 starlings feeding on it. It took a year for the first one to figure it out. However, in Central PA we have the large red-bellied woodpecker that is just slightly thinner and the Flickers (occasionally a Sapsucker) that are larger than a Starling. So I think the food is the only option. Thanks for your website,. Your thoughts?

    • Scott says:

      Hey Barb! My guess is that you could add safflower to suet and they probably wouldn’t enjoy it. Starlings don’t prefer plain suet either. Anything else you add, peanuts, corn, etc they will go crazy over!

  20. Rob Persichetti says:

    I’ve found that Starlings are one of the few birds that eat stink bugs, in the morning they come around the gutters and soffit to clean them out. I’ve been trying to find out which species of birds here (western PA) will eat stink bugs and Starlings are one of the few. I used to hate starlings but after seeing them eat stink bugs they’re my best buddies now. (I don’t like cow birds, they get other birds to raise their young)! My favorite birds are the chickadees, cardinals, and bluebirds, tanagers are awesome too.

    • Scott says:

      That’s an interesting observation about the stink bugs! I will certainly watch them more closely to see if that’s true as well here in Ohio. In addition to your favorite birds, I’m a big fan of Blue Jays. Thanks for the comment.

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