How to feed wild birds without feeding grackles

Written by liese jeyd hartman
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How to feed wild birds without feeding grackles
Attracting songbirds shouldn't have to mean tolerating grackles. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Although grackles will eat insects and grubs that infest your yard, they are considered a nuisance by most birders and people who maintain bird feeders. Not only do they eat the food that is meant for attractive songbirds and other colourful wild birds, but they discourage such birds from coming to your feeder. Making just a few simple changes to your bird feeding system can make your yard less appealing to these large, greedy birds.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Thistle feeder
  • Bird feeder without large perches
  • Bird feeder with cage or "perch-less" design that inhibits large birds
  • Safflower seed
  • Suet feeder for birds that feed upside down

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  1. 1

    Use safflower seed in your feeders since grackles seem less interested in it than other seeds, especially during times when grackles are migrating through your area. People in the North will see them in the spring and fall. People in the South may see them more often.

  2. 2

    Remove all platform feeders and seed that has fallen on the ground, and consider cage-covered feeders for the ground sparrows. Grackles love eating from platform feeders and the ground, so inhibiting their natural dining preference is a must.

  3. 3

    Replace feeders that make it easy for large birds such as blackbirds and grackles to feed by choosing perch-less feeders, or feeders with squirrel cages around them. This can be done seasonally when grackles may be moving through your area if you'd like to attract other large bird species at other times.

  4. 4

    Hang a suet feeder that caters to birds that feed upside down, such as woodpeckers and other species that make their homes in trees. Grackles cannot feed upside down.

  5. 5

    Add a thistle feeder to your backyard since this will attract smaller songbirds such as chickadees or finches and be nearly impossible for grackles to access.

Tips and warnings

  • Adding a squirrel cage to any feeder will likely deter large birds such as grackles.
  • Safflower seed does not repel grackles, but it doesn't appeal to them either.
  • Do not try to harm grackles as they are protected by the federal government.

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