How To Get Rid of Starlings (2022 Edition)

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Although the European starling is an invasive species, the U.S. contains nearly a third of the world’s starling population. They cause a tremendous amount of damage each year on farms and in and around homes. Since starlings travel in such large flocks, it seems almost impossible to get rid of them. 

In this informative guide to starling control, our experts reveal:

  • The Secret Tricks the Pros Use To Get Rid of Starlings
  • How To Keep Them Away
  • Starlings vs. Other Types of Birds
  • What To Expect When Visited by Starlings
Reviewed By:
Ed Spicer

Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!

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    How To Safely Get Rid of Starlings 

    Chasing starlings away from your property is not an easy thing to do. However, we provide some ideas to give you the best chance for success. 

    1. Reduce Food Sources

    Be sure to remove birdseed spilled on the ground. Also, pick up any dropped fruits or berries. By cleaning up your yard regularly, you give yourself a better shot at deterring starlings and other pest birds. 

    2. Change Bird Feeders

    Consider using starling-proof bird feeders in your backyard. They have a wire mesh that is too small for larger birds to squeeze through. They typically fit around a standard tube feeder and come in a variety of sizes. 

    Best of all, these protective cages allow access to smaller birds, such as:

    • Chickadees
    • Songbirds
    • Finches
    • Wrens
    • Nuthatches

    Also, consider installing an upside-down suet feeder. Nuthatches, woodpeckers, and chickadees all have the ability to feed hanging upside-down. Starlings, blue jays, and grackles are not so great at this acrobatic feat. 

    3. Change Your Bird Food

    Certain foods you use to attract small birds to your feeders also attract starlings. These include:

    • Mealworms
    • Sunflower chips
    • Cracked corn
    • Millet
    • Suet containing cracked corn or peanuts

    Instead, it might be time to try other options. For example:

    • Whole sunflower seeds
    • Whole peanuts in the shell
    • Safflower seeds
    • Nyjer

    Many of these foods have hard outer shells that are impossible for the starling’s soft beak to penetrate. And besides, these are not their favorite options, anyway. 

    4. Modify Starling Habitat

    Pruning trees will help keep large flocks of birds from roosting in your trees. It also reduces the number of potential nesting sites available. 

    Birdhouses can also attract starlings if they are large enough to become suitable homes. For that reason, choose smaller nest boxes, ones that are only for small birds. Alternatively, you can use the same ones by reducing the size of the entrance holes. 

    Last, it is vital to remove the existing starling nest. Relocating a nest is legal in most states since starlings are not a protected species. With that said, it is best to check local regulations, just to be sure. 

    5. Employ Exclusion Techniques the Pros Use

    One-way bird doors are available to remove starlings from attic spaces or openings in eaves and overhangs. They are typically constructed of stainless steel and fit over the entry hole. 

    To install it, you will need a 1/4 inch piece of plywood cut to fit over the entire opening. Then you will need to cut a hole the size of the door. 

    It is best to install the door to the plywood first. Then it is simply a matter of fastening the whole assembly so it covers the opening. 

    Once the bird leaves, the one-way door feature does not allow it to re-enter. There is no need to bait the door since the bird will venture outside to forage for food when it gets hungry. 

    6. Scare Them Away

    Motion-activated sprinkler systems sometimes work as deterrents for birds and other yard pests. When it senses motion, the water from the sprinkler shoots out, scaring the birds away. 

    Also, some tout the benefits of ultrasonic pest repellers. However, they do not seem to work as well on starlings as with other species. 

    Still, it may be worth investing in one with flashing lights and an audible alarm that makes loud noises. Moreover, a combination of methods appears to be better than using only one. 

    Last, it could be beneficial to place fake owls and hawks around your yard to scare away birds. Despite their apparent efficacy, it is vital to rotate all scaring devices frequently since starlings quickly get used to them. 

    7. Use Bird Repellents

    Natural repellent sprays are available for all types of birds, including starlings. They typically contain essential oil ingredients. Examples include:

    • Peppermint
    • Thyme
    • Rosemary
    • Clove

    Spray liberally to areas where birds roost. In addition, treat potential openings where birds may enter your house, storage shed, or barn. 

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    How To Keep Starlings Away 

    There are several mechanical devices you can install yourself to achieve maximum control of starlings. This section will show you which ones are most effective. We also provide the necessary tips to make full use of them around several parts of your house. 

    How To Keep Starlings off Your Roof

    Install bird spikes on ledges and rooftops. These humane devices offer a small amount of discomfort to a bird attempting to roost. It then sends out a distress call to the rest of the flock to stay away. 

    There are two types of bird spike strips available: metal and plastic. Use metal spikes for rooflines and ledges high up. For fences and lower areas where people and pets gather, use the safer plastic variety. 

    To install your spike strips on wood, utilize 1/2 inch wood screws to anchor them down. For harder materials like metal and concrete, use a quality adhesive that is resistant to heat and cold. 

    How To Keep Starlings off of Ledges

    45-degree sloping devices are now available to prevent birds from roosting on ledges. They come in two-foot PVC sheets you can cut to length. 

    They turn any 90-degree ledge into a 45-degree slope. So when the bird tries to land, it slides right off. 

    Before installing, remove any bird feces or nesting material. Then wash the surface with a solution of bleach and water. 

    Next, you will need to apply an outdoor adhesive that is heat and cold-resistant. Also, make sure it is non-silicone-based. Once installed, you can close the openings with end caps, typically included with the product. 

    How To Keep Starlings Out of Your Attic

    Install bird-proof vent covers for your attic to keep out starlings and other pest wildlife. In addition, consider installing roof vent covers and chimney caps. These and other devices will keep most unwelcome pests from entering your home through roof areas. 

    Openings in eaves and overhangs should also be sealed. Use a 19-gauge, galvanized steel wire mesh with 1/2-inch openings to achieve optimal results. 

    You can also use expansion foam to seal entry points. However, it typically will not last as long as steel. 

    How To Keep Starlings Out of Your Barn

    The best way to keep starlings and other birds out of your barn is to install clear PVC strip curtains over doorways. Here are the instructions on how to do that:

    1. Decide where you will mount the hanging rail. You can install it on the door frame or the wall above the door. 
    2. Cut the mounting rail to size using a hacksaw.
    3. Position the hanging rail and mark the screw holes
    4. Drill holes at the marked areas
    5. Secure the mounting rail with machine or wood screws. 
    6. Attach the strips to the hanging rail. Most strip curtain products come with tabs or hooks, so you can easily accomplish this step. 
    7. Once you have the strips in place, trim each one to the correct size with a pair of metal shears. The strips should hang 1/4 inch above the surface of the floor. 

    Note: You can also cut three-inch clear plastic strips and attach them to the top of the door frame using staples or screws. Just be sure to overlap each strip about 1/4 inch. The downside to this method is that you may have to replace the door frame if you ever decide to remove the strips. 

    Clear plastic strip curtains allow humans and livestock to move in and out of barns and warehouses freely while keeping birds out. 

    How To Keep Starlings From Ruining Your Trees

    Install bird netting around trees that are vulnerable to damage from starlings. Try to use 1/4 inch netting or smaller when possible. This keeps birds from getting their feet caught in the netting. 

    Here Are the Steps for Netting a Tree:

    1. You will need two people, especially for larger trees.
    2. Position one person on each side of the tree. Use eight-foot telescoping poles to lift the net over it.
    3. Walk the net back as you cover the entire tree.
    4. Be sure the upper branches do not bend excessively. You can correct this by using the poles to gently straighten them.
    5. Wrap the bottom of the net around the trunk and tie it off with twine. This will prevent birds from flying underneath the net to access the tree. 

    It is during the summer months that most residents of northern states will witness the starling. During this period, you can expect to have starlings visit your property.

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    What Do Starlings Look Like? 

    In this section, we provide a thorough description of the European starling. We also show you a comparison between the starling and similar species of birds. 

    General Description

    Starlings are medium-sized, perching songbirds. Their average length is around 10 inches, and they typically have multi-colored plumage. The ones you are most likely to encounter in the U.S. are dark gray to black with bluish-green feathers on their wings. 

    Starlings vs. Grackles

    The common grackle is in the same order as the starling. However, unlike the starling, it is a native of North America. 

    Grackles are slightly larger than starlings, measuring an average of 12 inches long. They are typically dark gray with blue feathers starting at their neck and covering their head.

    Starlings vs. Blackbirds

    The Brewer’s blackbird is a common species throughout much of North America. The males look somewhat similar to the common starling, being mostly black with highlighted plumage. So it is understandable how you could get them mixed up.

    In contrast, female blackbirds are much different. They are primarily brown, with only a hint of the coloring males possess. Also, the call of the blackbird is much sharper than that of the starling.


    How Long Do Starlings Stay? 

    In early autumn and winter, huge flocks of starlings, called murmurations by scientists, form as a defense against predators. During this time, the birds migrate from Canada to overwinter in the Southwestern U.S. 

    Witnessing starlings in early fall and winter may signal a stopover that will last only a few days. This is because they have a complex migratory pattern they follow each year. 

    It is during the summer months that most residents of northern states will witness the starling. During this period, you can expect to have starlings visit your property. If conditions are right, they may not leave for weeks or even months. 


    A Final Word About Starlings

    The starling is one of the most hated backyard birds in the U.S. and Canada, even more than house sparrows. They make a mess with their droppings and nesting materials, and they chase away native species in large numbers. 

    It takes a lot of work to stop these bully birds from taking over your property. But hopefully, we have given you enough information here to make it a bit easier. 

    Still, it is a good idea to contact a pest control company, if only to receive an assessment of your current situation. If you do, be sure to get all promises in writing before signing a contract for service. In addition, choose a competent professional who is licensed and insured in your state. 

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