European starlings are an invasive species of wild birds in the U.S. They become pests by leaving massive amounts of droppings and nesting materials on houses and commercial buildings.
In addition, they drive off native species from their natural habitats, threatening local ecosystems. So, when you see a massive flock of starlings headed toward your home, it’s best to be prepared.
In this guide to bird prevention, our pest experts show you:
- How to Humanely Deter Starlings and Other Pest Birds
- Instructions on How To Utilize Exclusion Devices
- How To Keep From Attracting Starlings to Your Yard
- A Little-known Secret for Keeping Birds Out of Barns and Storage Areas
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!
Table Of Contents
How To Keep Starlings Away
The last thing any homeowner wants is for a flock of starlings to land on their house. The mess they make, along with the potential damage they create, can be enormous. For that reason, we show you how to keep starlings from invading your property in this section.
1. Reduce Food Sources
Spilled bird food attracts starlings, so it’s best to remove it from your yard regularly. Also, be sure to clean up dropped fruit such as berries from the ground.
Insects are another favorite food of starlings. Grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars catch the eye of pest birds of all species. For that reason, you can ensure fewer starlings in your yard by regularly treating insect pests outdoors.
2. Utilize Cage Bird Feeders
Cage feeders fit around standard tube feeders to keep larger birds from stealing food. They work by surrounding the bird feeder with a cage that is too small for starlings to squeeze through.
However, they still allow access to smaller birds, such as:
Another way to thwart starlings is with upside-down suet feeders. Woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches all have the ability to hang upside-down while eating. Starlings, grackles, and blue jays do not.
3. Bird Food
Certain bird food you place in feeders to attract small birds should not be used when starlings are present. For example:
- Cracked corn
- Sunflower chips
Instead, try utilizing food that starlings hate but small birds still enjoy. For example:
- Nyjer seed
- Safflower seeds
- Whole peanuts
- Whole sunflower seeds
These foods have a hard shell that starlings have trouble breaking with their soft beaks. In addition, they represent the least favorite sources for these larger birds.
4. Modify Starling Habitat
Starlings roost almost anywhere, but their most sought-after locations are in hickory, elm, and oak trees due to their long branches and ample selection of insects. For that reason, it makes sense to keep trees pruned, especially when near houses and other structures.
Birdhouses also attract starlings, especially if there is room to nest inside. Therefore, it is vital to reduce the size of their entrance holes to less than 1.5 inches. Better yet, purchase the ones only smaller birds can utilize.
5. Bird Repellents
Essential oil repellents contain fragrances that birds hate. They’re typically available in convenient spray bottles, or you can make your own using these essential oils:
Spray natural repellents where birds roost on ledges or where they may try to enter your home. However, avoid spraying directly on trees or plants.
6. Bird Spikes
Bird spikes are mechanical deterrents designed to create discomfort when the starling attempts to land. After that, the bird sends a distress call, letting others know it’s not safe to roost there.
Bird spike strips are available in metal or plastic. You install them with wood screws, or for concrete and hard surfaces, with a strong adhesive that is resistant to heat and cold.
7. Modify Ledges
Modifying ledges and overhangs is not easy but well worth the time and effort. Going from a 90-degree ledge to a 45-degree slope makes a huge difference in your success in keeping starlings away.
45-degree sloping devices come in two-foot-wide PVC sheets you can cut to length. Apply them with outdoor adhesives that are not silicone-based.
8. Exclusion Devices
You should seal any possible bird entry points in eaves and overhangs. The best way to achieve that is with 19-gauge galvanized steel wire mesh. Alternatively, you can use expansion foam to close entry holes as well.
Keep unwelcome pests out of roof openings with vent covers and chimney caps. They come in different sizes, so it’s preferable to measure each opening before ordering.
9. Strip Curtains
The best way to keep starlings and other birds out of your barn is to install clear PVC strip curtains over doorways. Transparent plastic curtains allow humans and livestock to freely move in and out of barns and warehouses while keeping birds out.
Three-inch strips of clear plastic hang over the open door entrance. When birds try to fly in, they are stopped by the curtain. In contrast, humans can easily enter and exit at will by simply moving the curtain aside.
10. Scaring Devices
Ultrasonic bird repellers seldom work for starlings. Instead, consider placing owl decoys in several areas of your yard. The downside is that you’ll have to rotate them often since most bird species can get used to deterrents in a matter of days.
Things That Attract Starlings
Starlings build nests in open cavities in trees. Your home also provides suitable nesting sites since there are several openings in vents and other access points.
Another favored habitat for starlings is nest boxes used for small birds. If the entrance holes are large enough, they will drive the current inhabitants out.
Starlings are also attracted to yards where there is easy access to food. Their primary diet consists of:
Above all, starlings require frequent hydration. Since they prefer standing water to drink, birdbaths become easy targets for these prolific pests.
Insects are the favorite food of starlings. Grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars catch the eye of pest birds of all species.
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One Final Note
Starlings are bully birds that drive off native species and take over their nests. In this guide, we showed you how to select starling-proof bird feeders as well as how to disrupt their perches. We also stressed the importance of limiting the things that attract pest birds to your property.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that it’s always best to prevent a starling problem before it happens. And hopefully, we have given you enough information to do that here.