starlings
Pests

About Starlings | Starlings Murmuration | Tips to Keep Starlings Away

What do Starlings eat?

Starlings like insects, fruits, grains, and also eat your birdseed if it appears to be an easy source of food. They are normally not picky in food.

While there are a few things that they do not prefer, such as safflower seeds, they will scavenge for food and consume your backyard feeder birds out of home and house if given the chance. 

How long do starlings live?

The average life span of Starlings is about 2–3 years.  Common starling nests have a 48% to 79% rate of prosperous fledgling, although only 20% of nestlings exist to breed; the adult starlings existence rate is closer to 60%.

Where do starlings live?

Starlings can be found in almost every setting from agriculture to metropolitan locales. European starlings nest in tree cavities, birdhouses, and nearly any hole in and around a structure. They often remove native hole-nesting birds, such as woodpeckers, bluebirds, flickers, etc. Their nests, which are frequently reused, consist of grasses, twigs, debris, and straw.

European starlings incline to travel in flocks and will be found grazing in small grass. Popular in residential settings, starlings will invade trees or perch on gutters, which may be clogged and restored with water. These clogged canals provide a much-needed water source for the starlings.

Where do starlings nest?

Starlings nest in loose areas and do not establish and protect a proper territory – only the some area around the nesting cavity is maintained. The whole colony feeds communally in what is termed a home span.

One interesting fact about Starlings Nest : To attract a spouse, the male starling builds the base of the nest from dry grass and flees in a hole and sings from perches close to the nest opening. The female finishes the nest by making a nest cup and covering it with fine grasses, moss, and feathers.

Tips to Keep Starlings Away

Restrictive Feeders: Opt for feeders that prohibit starlings with mesh cages or related barriers. Tube feeders with very small perches or clinging mesh designs also make starlings uncomfortable. Domed feeders can also assist to keep starlings away, as these birds aren’t as strong to get underneath the dome. Resist large, open feeders such as hoppers or platforms that are simple options for hungry starling flocks.

Select Foods Wisely: Starlings are fond of cracked corn, suet, and kitchen scraps. Hence, removing these foods from a backyard will give them limited options to live there. Safflower seed, nyjer seed, nectar, and whole peanuts are far less pleasing to starlings, but keep in mind that these items attract a wide range of other hungry bird varieties.

Remove Other Food Sources: Starlings will experiment with a wide variety of natural foods and may destroy a garden or orchard. Covering fruit-bearing trees and shrubs with a net will help to keep starlings away, and windfall fruits should be gathered and cleaned to avoid starlings to get attracted to those items. Cleaning beneath hanging feeders will remove spilled seed that starlings could experiment with. Also, be sure to discard outdoor pet food and cover compost pile chunks that may tempt starlings.

Prune Trees: If starlings are laying in the field, then think of pruning trees to reduce branch thickness which will make starlings feel less comfortable and may compel larger flocks to seek shelter elsewhere.

Restrict Nesting: Starlings need an entrance hole of 1.5″ in diameter to enter a birdhouse. If your birdhouses have big entrances, modify the entrance holes and make them smaller so that starlings cant get inside. At the same time, use small gauge netting to block open pipes, vents, and other nooks and crannies that may defend against nesting starlings.

Use Sound Repellents: When a flock of starlings visits, a sonic blast can promptly encourage them to move along. Recorded hawk calls or other predator sounds can be effective, or simply going outside to stalk them away with banging or yells can prevent them, at least temporarily.

For the best results, use different types of techniques to prevent starlings, and change techniques regularly so the birds do not become habituated to one deterrent.

How to get rid of starlings at feeders?

1. Buy a Starling proof bird feeder

  • SQUIRREL RESISTANT: Cage design allows small birds in to access the suet cake while keeping squirrels out!
  • SUET FEEDER: Suet is a good source of energy and will attract a larger variety of birds to your yard
  • SUET CAKE CAPACITY: Squirrel-X4 bird feeder can accommodate two suet cakes
  • DETER LARGE 'BULLY' BIRDS: Bird feeder prevents the big bully birds from accessing the suet allowing the food for smaller birds
  • DURABILITY: Steel lid and powder-coated weather-resistant steel cage construction

If you are looking out for exclusively starling proof bird feeders, then you will find limited options out there. As starlings are just about a similar size as a cardinal, you could also be obstructing cardinals, blue jays, and other related sized feeder birds from your feeder if you use starling proof feeders.

You could try something like the squirrel buster which has a counterweight that shuts the feeder holes on heavier animals.

2. Try Seasonal tactics

Another method is to change the types of feeders, seasonally.  Starlings and grackles seemed to show up more in the summer season than the winter. Hence, Putting out caged tube feeders in the summer may keep the starlings and grackles away.

3. Remove any nesting options

Starlings struggle to fit through an opening of 1.5 inches or smaller. Hence, you can ensure any birdhouses in your lawn to have entrance holes no larger than 1.5 inches. You can buy birdhouses precisely sized for bluebirds such as Nature’s Way Cedar Bluebird house with the suitably sized opening.

If you want to be very safe, you can go for an even minor 1-inch opening that will only enable small songbirds such as wrens and chickadees.

4. Remove their water and food sources

Normally, starlings do not like safflower or nyjer (thistle) seeds. By mixing these in your other birds fee, you can avoid starlings at bird feeder.

Starlings have softer bills than most other seed-eating backyard birds.  Thus, peanuts (in the shell) and white-striped sunflower seeds are tougher for them to open and may be worth switching to them until the starlings become discouraged and leave. 

As a last-ditch action, you can also try eliminating all your feeders for a couple of weeks. This will smash the cycle of the starlings coming to your yard for food, and you can put the feeders back in after starlings moved to another region.

5. Scare them off

There are a few alternatives for frightening off a roost of starlings, though none of which are a surefire means to get rid of them.

Loud noises – As mentioned above you can buy a predator available on Amazon that mimics the sound of predators and birds in discomfort, these sounds will frighten starlings.

6. One is one too many

It’s much simpler to deter one or two starlings than an entire flock. If even one shows up at your feeder, it is suggested to employ some of these tactics right away. By hunting them away early, you can deter a larger flock entering your lawn.

7. Other options

  • Easy to install.
  • Perfect trap for Sparrows, Bluebirds, Small Woodpeckers, Wrens and more!

A nest box trap like above is a feasible option for trapping starlings.

You should review your local laws regarding trapping or killing starlings before you try anything of that nature.

How to get rid of starlings nesting in the roof?

  • In most states, it’s legal to damage the nest of any bird as long as it’s not completely established. You have to deter the birds from fully creating the hideout by manually eliminating the materials they have already stuffed on your canal. You can use a power washer to get rid of it. However, it’s critical that you destroy the nest when the parent bird is off so you won’t stand the chance of being attacked.
  • After destroying the nest, make sure that you don’t throw the nest materials in the junk. The sparrows or starlings can easily regain this and effortlessly rebuild their nesting habitat. Instead, place it in a bag and hide it from probable pecking. This will make it difficult for the birds to find new elements so they’ll likely seek new habitat. Repeatedly remove the nests and hide the materials until the birds grow annoyed by it. The only downside here is that the re-nesting birds might be a new bunch of parents taking over your eaves.
  • The reason why birds like starlings nest under your eaves is it’s not affected by predators and natural elements. It serves as a quick roof and if the slope isn’t too vertical, your house becomes an easy choice. One thing you can do is to make the slope steeper by building an additional board or reconstructing this part of your ceiling. If you can’t manage to do that, you can use some commercial treatments.
  • If you don’t want two-feet strings hanging from your eaves, you can examine other means of getting rid of starlings. Putting a mirror in the middle of the slopes is a way to stop the sparrows or starlings from nesting. The reflection of the light will dazzle them and make it difficult for them to go near your eaves or gutter.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a group of starlings called?

‘Murmuration’ is the term given to the large groups of Starling. These large flocks of birds gather together to roost through the winter season.

2. What time of year do starlings murmurate?

The Starling murmurations (the exhibits in the skies) happen during the winter season, roughly from October to March. The peak in numbers is usually December to January when additional birds come over from Europe and join other inhabitant birds.

3. What time of day do starlings murmurate?

Most people observed Starling Murmurations in the evenings. Thousands of birds dancing together in a pattern across the skies before laying down into their roost sites. These exhibits happen around the time of sunset each evening.

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