How to Get Rid of Starlings: Best Tips

You’ve seen them, no doubt. These stocky, medium-sized black birds have feathers that are glossy in summer, then covered in white spots during winter. They travel in large numbers, are aggressive with other birds, and these large flocks can quickly take over a lawn, a field, or in trees.

European starlings, as they are called, can be a real nuisance, especially when they start to congregate in large numbers. If you’re wondering how to get rid of starlings, there are some techniques you can try to rid your property of these unwanted birds.

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Are Starlings Invasive and How Did They Come to America?

The European starling is a non-native invasive species, and it originated in Europe and Asia. They were brought to America in the 1800s as part of a plan to introduce all of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays, thanks to a fellow named Eugene Schieffelin.

Even though the starling is mentioned only one time, in Henry IV, Act 1, but Mr. Schieffelin decided to import 60 European starlings to New York on March 6, 1890.

His plan was to release these 5 dozen birds in the middle of New York City, because, well, why not? What harm could that bring?

Here we are, more than 130 years later, with the European starling population in the millions throughout the country. Thanks, Eugene!

What Attracts Starlings to My Yard?

what attracts starlings to my yard?

There are a few things that can attract starlings to your yard. One is food, whether it’s seeds, insects, or fruit.

Starlings will also congregate in areas with a lot of cover, like trees or bushes. And finally, they may be drawn to water sources like ponds or bird baths.

What Do Starlings Eat?

Starlings are omnivorous and will eat a variety of things, including insects, seeds, fruit, and garbage. They can devour fruit trees and if left to their own devices, destroy them.

Remove all food sources

One of the best ways to get rid of starlings is to remove all potential food sources. This means clearing your yard of all seeds, fallen fruit, and garbage.

If you have a pond or bird bath in your yard, keep it clean and free of standing water that could attract insects and other pests.

If you have a bird feeder, make sure to clean up the ground under it regularly. This will help get rid of any spilled seed that could attract starlings.

How to Discourage Starlings From Nesting in Your Backyard

If you have a problem with starlings nesting in your backyard, there are a few things you can do to discourage them.

If you have birdhouses in your yard, make sure the openings are no larger than 1 1/2 inches. Starlings are too big to fit through an opening of that size.

You can also try to make your backyard less hospitable to starlings. This can be done by taking the time to prune trees and shrubs so there is less cover for the birds to hide in.

If you have a pond or birdbath in your yard, keep the water level lower, about 6 inches from the top. This will prevent starlings from perching on the edge and leaning down to drink.

Install an outdoor radio tuned to a talk station near your feeder or other areas you want to protect from starlings. The sound of people talking will discourage them from coming near.

How to Get Rid of Starlings

tips on how to get rid of starlings

We have a number of suggestions to help you in your quest to deter starlings from taking over your yard. They are annoying birds, for sure, and finding effective deterrents is a priority.

Switch Up the Bird Feed

If you have a problem with starlings being bully birds and taking over your bird feeder, try to switch up the type of food you’re feeding them. Let’s look at the food sources starlings like, and those they will stay away from.

Starlings prefer this type of food:

  • mealworms
  • shelled peanuts
  • suet cakes that include corn or peanuts
  • cracked corn
  • sunflower kernels
  • human food (like bread)

Starlings don’t like this type of food:

  • striped sunflower seeds
  • safflower seeds
  • white suet with nothing else added to it
  • black oil sunflower seeds are not their favorite seed to eat

You can also try to install a feeder that is only for small birds, like finches or sparrows. This will make it less appealing to starlings.

Install a Wire Mesh Cone Around Your Bird Feeder

If you have a problem with starlings taking over your bird feeder, there are a few things you can do to discourage them. One is to install a wire mesh cone around the feeder.

This will discourage European starlings from perching on it. You can also try using an electric wire or strand of monofilament line to create an “electric fence” around the feeder.

Use Starling Proof Bird Feeders

There are a number of bird feeders on the market that are designed to be “starling-proof.” These feeders have features like small perches, a tight lid, or wire mesh sides that make it difficult for starlings to get to the food.

If you’re having a problem with starlings taking over your feeder, it might be worth investing in a starling proof bird feeder.

Another option to consider to keep the starlings away is to purchase an upside down suet feeder. These upside down suet feeders will make it harder for an invasive species like the european starling to feed from it.

Scare Starlings Away With Reflection

You can try using an outdoor mirror, like the ones used for scarecrows, to make your property less appealing to starlings.

Placing it near your bird feeder or other areas you want to protect will help keep the birds away.

Try to start with a small mirror and work your way up if it’s not enough to scare off the birds.

Use Ultrasound Starling Repellent

If you have a problem with starlings in your backyard, there are a few things you can do to discourage them. One is to install an ultrasound repellent. This will help keep the birds from nesting in your yard.

How does the ultrasound repellent work?

Ultrasound repellents use cone-shaped speakers that emit an ultrasonic sound. These sounds are usually high-pitched and inaudible to humans, but they interfere with the starlings’ navigation system.

Usually, the bird will hear it as a predator warning them to stay away.

The use of ultrasound starling repellents is a non-toxic, humane way to keep the birds away from your property.

Call a Professional

If you’re having a problem with starlings, it might be worth calling in the professionals to help. Some pest control companies are equipped to handle starling issues and can come out to your property and assess the problem.

They will humanely trap the birds, or use other methods to remove them from your property.

There are also companies that specifically deal with bird problems, so check online for one near you.


What smell do starlings hate?

There is no one smell that starlings hate, but they are generally repelled by strong smells. Try cayenne pepper or garlic to keep them away.

Are starlings dangerous?

No, starlings are not considered to be dangerous. They are, however, considered to be a nuisance birds because they can be so disruptive. If you’re having a problem with them, there are some things you can do to discourage them from coming around.

Can I kill starlings?

No, killing starlings or harming them is illegal in the United States. There are a number of humane ways to discourage them from coming around your property, so try using one of those and please refrain from resorting to violence.

Why are there starlings in my yard?

If starlings have suddenly appeared in your yard, it might be because there is a nearby source of food. They are known to flock around bird feeders from time to time, so if you have a feeder they may be coming around for that reason.

Conclusion: How to Get Rid of Starlings

The european starlings are considered nuisance birds, and we want to keep this invasive species away from our homes and yards. After all, backyard birding is supposed to be enjoyable, and a starling infestation is definitely not that!

The goal is to keep other bird species in your yard, while eliminating the unwanted birds as much as possible.

We hope that these tips to control a starling problem will be effective for you.