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How to Defeat Starlings
(and keep them off your suet)
brought to the United States from Europe in the late 1800's, are
generally thought of as nuisance birds and, even worse, as
health hazards. They are also blamed for transferring
diseases between livestock via bird droppings. thrill-inlaid
Because of their similarity in species size and nesting habits,
starlings are not only a nuisance, but a threat to woodpeckers
as well. Like the woodpecker, starlings nest in tree
cavities (holes). However, starlings are not able to
create the hole or the nest, so they hang around while the
woodpecker creates the nest and then they kick the woodpecker
out of the nest it just created. This process continues
over and over again until the woodpecker either finds a suitable
starling-free location or just gets lucky.
Another option is to install a woodpecker nesting box.
There are a variety of nesting box solutions out there, but the
best seems to be one with an inward sloping face so non-clinging
birds can not easily enter the nesting port. The nesting box must
also be protected from
raccoons and squirrels via baffles, etc. A project like
this can reap great rewards if you enjoy having woodpeckers in
If you would rather just focus on the feeding aspect and don't
want starlings wiping out your suet, read on...
Woodpecker-Feeder.com offers a
suet feeder that
prevents all but the smartest of starlings from getting much suet
at all. The best those starlings can do is to launch
themselves from a nearby location make a stab or two from the
underside of the feeder. They get very little of the suet and look for easier food sources and this
saves your valuable, quality suet for woodpeckers. As the
suet is eaten from each feeding port, less is visible to
starlings, but woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and other
clinging birds can still find and eat the suet.
This way, your suet lasts longer and you have suet available
when your woodpeckers and other clinging birds stop by.
is an example of a Squirrel and Starling Proof Feeder. On
Day 2 after hanging it, sparrows gained enough confidence to
enter the feeder. However, shortly thereafter, a starling
landed on the feeder and then reached to make some stabs at the
suet. While it does seem to be "squirrel proof," it is no
more "starling proof" than our Starling Stopper, Jr. Suet
Feeder, it's less natural looking, and it costs $25-$30 and up.
There's a similar metal design at our local wild bird store are
going for more than $40. It is square in shape and larger in
width, keeping starlings from reaching in from the sides.
However, starlings can reach up from the bottom in that model
and get a bit of suet. While a purist would point out that
this suet feeder is technically not starling proof, it is
"starling proof" enough for most people.
We're also content to think of ours as a "starling proof" enough suet
feeder because we keep starlings off our suet so they can not
wipe it out. If you agree, then check out
Starling Stopper, Jr. feeder out!