Grackles are beautiful black birds with shimmery blue heads, but don’t let their appearance fool you: these birds will take over your yard if you aren’t careful. Maybe you’ve already noticed them hogging your feeder and are wondering what to do about it. If so, keep reading! In this article, we’ll talk about how to keep grackles away from bird feeders.
What You'll Learn Today
Are Grackles Pest Birds?
Grackles are frequently considered to be pests, as they tend to flock in large numbers that can destroy crops such as sunflowers, corn. They may also cause structural damage to buildings and trees when the large flocks roost together.
Wintering or migrating flocks of up to a million birds are not uncommon, and as you might imagine, all those birds crowding together on trees, powerlines, and buildings can add a significant amount of weight.
According to the American Bird Conservancy, grackle numbers are falling in part because of the lethal measures often used against them to prevent crop and structural damage.
Grackles may also control bird feeders by chasing off other birds that try to come to the feeder. They may even kill other birds and eat them, especially in times of food shortage.
Grackles can be extremely aggressive and daring, as demonstrated in the following video:
If you’re reading this article, chances are you have grackles hogging your bird feeder and keeping more desirable birds away. But what can be done to get rid of grackles without scaring off the birds you want to have at your feeder?
Can You Grackle-Proof Your Bird Feeder?
If you have grackles in your area, there’s a good chance they’ll keep other, smaller birds away from your bird feeder.
For one thing, there are often so many of them that their numbers are enough to scare away other birds. They also tend to hog the feeders, crowding around them at all hours of the day so that other birds simply can’t get to it.
So, how do you keep grackles away? Is it possible to “grackle-proof” your existing feeder, or will you need to buy a new feeder altogether?
Grackles can be difficult to discourage. Fortunately, there are a few things you can try to keep them away without having to buy a new feeder.
- Put a cage around it: Some types of feeders are already enclosed within a cage that allows smaller, nimbler birds to reach the food while keeping larger birds and squirrels out. If your feeder doesn’t already have a cage, you may want to purchase one for it.
- Remove or shorten perches: If your feeder has large feeding perches for the birds, it might help to shorten them or remove them entirely. Grackles are medium and large birds that will be discouraged from using your bird feeder if they don’t have an adequate place to perch on it.
- Keep the ground area clean and free of stray feed: Since grackles are mostly ground foragers, they will be attracted to the area of your feeder if there is a lot of loose feed underneath it. You can install a collection tray underneath your feeder to catch seed that falls, or you can simply clean the area frequently; if you remove the food source from your lawn, grackles are less likely to come around.
How to Keep Grackles Off Bird Feeders?
Say you’re planning to set up a bird feeder in your yard, but you know there are a lot of grackles in your area. You don’t want the grackles to keep all the other birds away, but what are some things you can do to keep them off your feeder without scaring off the birds you want to have around?
In addition to the tips listed above, here are a few more things you can try:
Use a caged or upside-down feeder
If you haven’t bought your feeder yet, choose one that is already enclosed in a cage or that hangs upside-down. Grackles don’t like to bother with cages, and they don’t like to eat by hanging upside down.
Use feed that doesn’t attract grackles
Grackles will eat almost anything if they’re hungry, but they generally prefer insects, grains, and seeds such as sunflower and corn. Try filling your feeder with safflower or nyjer seed to discourage grackles from coming around.
Remove other food sources
If you grow sunflowers, grains, or berries, cover them with a net to keep the grackles out. If there are a lot of insects in your yard, you may want to consider safe ways to reduce the bug population.
Again, grackles eat a lot of different things, but if you can limit their opportunities for finding food in your yard, they may disregard your bird feeder and simply move on to another area.
Use a deterrent
There are many different types of deterrents that may be useful at keeping grackles out of your yard. The main problem with these deterrents is that they may keep other birds away as well.
What kind of deterrents should you consider? Let’s find out.
What Are Some Good Grackle Deterrents?
Deterrents may be best if you don’t have feeders because, as mentioned above, they may deter other birds as well. But if you have a serious grackle problem in your yard and are desperate to get rid of them, using a deterrent may help to scare them away.
Some deterrents you could try include:
- Bird spikes: Bird spikes are spindly objects that you can mount on the ground or wherever birds like to perch. The spikes make it impossible for birds to land comfortably, and if they don’t have a place to perch, they will probably pass right on by.
- Ultrasonic deterrents: Ultrasonic deterrents act by using sound frequencies to deter animals. If you’re going to use one of these deterrents, try to find one with a sound frequency specific to grackles–that way, only the grackles will be scared off and the other birds will be none the wiser.
- Motion sensor deterrents: Motion sensor deterrents aren’t ideal because they will respond to anything that moves, whether that’s a grackle or another type of bird, a cat or a human being. But some of these deterrents can produce a loud noise or be connected to a sprinkler system that will go off every time something activates it.
- Shiny objects: Birds don’t care for things that shimmer and produce flashes in the sunlight. If you’re trying to get rid of grackles, you can try hanging up old CDs and DVDs, flash tape, pieces of aluminum foil, or other shiny objects in problem areas.
- Sound effect deterrents: You may be able to find a specialized deterrent that produces sounds of predators and grackles in distress. These sound effects will scare grackles away without disturbing other birds that may be in the area.
Grackles are pest birds that can take over an area, potentially destroying crops, causing structural damage, and chasing off other types of birds. If grackles have taken over your bird feeder, you’ll want to try to get rid of them using one or more of the methods described above.