Imagine this: You’ve spent forever reading up on how to attract a specific bird species to your backyard.
You make your backyard a welcoming place, offer the right foods and hope for them to flock around for you to watch.
One day you happen to catch a glimpse of one at your feeders.
Then just as soon as they arrive, another bird starts attacking them and they fly off never to come back to your yard.
Even the most rookie realize backyard bird watchers realize that some birds are way more aggressive than others.
You can check out this guide to the most common aggressive birds in your backyard.
Bully birds at your feeders can be a huge issue.
Why you need to stop bully birds at your feeders
1. Save money
Bully birds will raid your feeders and empty them pretty quickly.
That means you’ll be opening your wallet regularly to replace all that food.
Preventing bully birds from raiding your feeders will save you money in the long run.
2. Better variety of Bird
Bully birds will stop other birds from coming near your feeders.
The aggression tactics they use are likely to scare off smaller and more desirable birds that you want to attract.
If bully birds are dominating your feeders, it’s unlikely the rare bird spotted in your area will attempt your feeders.
3. Prevent disease
Bully birds such as starlings, sparrows, and pigeons are the worst offenders for spreading salmonella amongst feeders.
Salmonella spreads in their droppings and is fatal to other birds.
Even worse, these birds can pass on salmonella to your pets.
Always take precautions cleaning your feeders when a bully species are invading. Although it’s pretty rare, you’re at risk of catching salmonella too.
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So we’ll agree that bully birds in your backyard are a problem you need to fix.
But how do you stop them?
This guide will show you ways to deter those pesky bully birds from your feeders.
So let’s get to it.
5 Ways stop bully birds at feeders.
Bully birds can be a nightmare for your feeders.
Starting fights, chasing smaller birds away, and eating all the food!
These are tried and tested ways to prevent bully birds from coming back to your feeders.
1. Use the right feeder
The issue with having bird feeders in your yard is that they are an easy food source for bully birds.
The reason some birds like starlings and sparrows can take over is that they dominate easy food sources. Your backyard feeders are the definition of offering it on a plate.
But of course, you’re not going to take down your feeders to stop them.
The smart way to tackle this issue is choosing the right feeder for your yard.
Let’s have a look at your best options:
When deterring bully birds we can use their bullying strengths against them.
The easiest way birds can bully smaller birds is by using their size. This applies to birds like starlings, blues jays, crows, and pigeons.
The solution is to use a feeder that lets in the little birds and keeps out the big birds.
A cage feeder will do just that. You use them like your regular tube feeders but they have a caged area on the outside of the tube.
This feeder is one of the highest-rated birdseed feeders on amazon for keeping larger birds out. But if prefer offering suet or seed cakes then this is the feeder you want.
Another option is to buy a cage that fits over an existing feeder, such as this one.
But here’re the rub.
These cages are as expensive as buying a whole caged feeder. So unless you have a beloved feeder you don’t want to lose then it’s gonna hit your wallet.
Weight Activated feeders
Larger birds are heavier than smaller birds and that’s another weakness that you can use against them.
That’s where a weight-activated feeder fits in.
Weight-activated bird feeders will only give access to food if a bird is light enough.
If a bird is too heavy it shuts off the food with a barrier and they can’t get access.
And if that’s not enough, a weighted feeder will stop squirrels from raiding your feeder too.
If this sounds like the right feeder for you, then check out this one which has over one thousand 5 star reviews on Amazon.
Let’s go for a third weakness of the bully bird: their height.
Using a dome feeder is the ideal way to prevent a bird from feeding easily because they are too tall compared to smaller birds.
Dome feeders have an open dish feeder with an umbrella shape overhead.
The cool thing is that with a well-made dome feeder like this one, you can adjust the height to allow only certain size birds to feed.
This is a great option for birds such as cardinals, bluebirds, titmice, and thrashers who prefer open-style feeders over the tubes.
Short perch feeders
Another way to use the bully birds’ size against them is by using smooth feeders with short perches.
Short perches make it difficult for bigger birds to settle and feed. Without cages or mesh, the bigger bird has nothing to cling to.
Some smaller birds can even feed whilst fluttering around your feeder. That means there is the option of removing the perch altogether.
This is a smart way to keep a flock of starlings away from your feeders.
This feeder is a highly recommended budget option with small perches.
Avoid ground feeders
Bully birds such as starlings, grackles, sparrows, and pigeons are ground feeders.
So avoid using a ground feeder like this one.
Ground feeders will attract bully birds to your yard. When all the food in the ground feeder is gone or there is no space they will move on to your other feeders.
2. Catch the seeds
So you’ve got your bully birdproof feeders all sorted.
But hang on a minute…
The smaller birds keep dropping the seeds making it a ground feeding haven for the bully birds.
Annoying isn’t it?
I get it, this put me off feeding birds in my yard for years. I couldn’t stand the pigeon coo’s that dominated my yard through the day.
But this doesn’t have to be you. There are a few simple ways to tackle this problem.
Let’s take a look.
One way to prevent seeds from falling on the ground is to catch them in a seed tray under the feeder.
You can buy a feeder which is already has a seed tray attached like this one.
Or if you don’t want to buy a new feeder you can get one like this that attaches separately on a feeding pole.
A word of caution: the seed catcher may become a separate feeder for some birds or other animals like squirrels and raccoons.
That means a seed catcher might not be the answer to your problems.
But don’t worry there are more solutions to try.
No mess bird seed
A lot of the mess or waste seed you see on the ground is actually the shells and hulls of bird seeds.
Well, that mixed in with all the filler seed most birds turn their beak up to!
The best way to avoid so much wasted feed is to buy ‘No Mess’ or ‘no waste’ seed mixes. Lyric does a great selection to help you attract the bird you want to see in your yard.
Now this seed mix is a lot more expensive than a regular seed mix.
But the reality is it’s pure food without all the filler.
That means you’ll initially pay out more, but you’ll find you don’t need to fill your feeders as often with these brands.
If the other two solutions don’t work for you then try a trash can.
This is a suggestion from a Birds and Wild reader. They found this the best way to catch seed without having birds gather to eat the mess.
The trash can should be large enough so birds won’t eat from it. Then place it directly under your feeder.
Having a liner inside the garbage can will help to clear the mess quickly and easily.
3. Use food Bully Birds Hate
We’ve looked at tips on how to deter larger bully birds from your feeders.
But what about smaller birds bully birds like sparrows?
Cutting off the food supply that any bully birds like is the best way to stop them from coming to your feeders.
The issue with this technique is finding food that other birds will eat but the bully birds won’t eat.
Let’s have a look at some foods to try out in your feeders.
The perfect food for small birds is Nyger seeds. Songbirds love it because it’s easy for their small beaks to eat.
If you want finches in your yard then they go crazy for this stuff.
The larger birds don’t really bother with it as it’s too small. When combined with a mesh-style bird feeder you’ll be sure to keep most big birds away.
Putting safflower seed in your feeders is a great way to ward off bully birds.
Safflower seeds are high in protein and fats which can taste quite bitter for most bully birds. Squirrels also hate safflower seeds, so that’s another bonus.
You’ll find yourself attracting cardinals and chickadees as they go crazy for safflower seeds.
Striped sunflower seeds
If your main problem is sparrows, then striped sunflower seeds are a great deterrent.
Sparrows will eat softer hulled sunflower seeds so make sure you get the black ones with the white stripe. Their beaks can’t hull the seeds.
Another bonus is that the hull is too hard for starlings to get through.
Warning: squirrels love these, so only get these if you like to feed your backyard squirrels too.
Starlings are not a fan of plain old suet.
But don’t get this confused with the suet balls that have other things added in them. You want pure suet.
Although this can be quite tricky to find in stores or online. If you have a butcher shop locally you can ask if this is something they offer.
4. Use food Bully Birds Love
Wait a minute. Didn’t I just tell you not to use foods the bully birds like?
Hear me out.
If you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle with trying to get bully birds out of your yard, start to offer foods they love.
But here’s the trick:
Offer it in a separate feeder.
You should then place these feeders in less desirable places in your yard.
You want your prime feeders in spots where you enjoy bird watching. Hide the ‘bully bird feeder’ away where you don’t really see them.
You can even make these feeders more accessible to even squirrels if they are another problem for you.
That means you can keep them away from your good feeders and from disturbing the birds you want to watch.
Let’s look at some foods you can use to lure the bully birds to these feeders.
You will find sparrows will go gaga for cracked corn in your feeders.
In fact, a separate feeder with cracked corn is one of the best ways to keep sparrows from your other feeders.
The great thing about cracked corn is that it’s cheap to buy, as you’ll go through quite a lot.
Other animals such as squirrels and deer also like to eat cracked corn.
When you offer mealworms at your feeders you’ll find that starlings will often overpower them.
Mixing in some mealworms with filler food such as millet it’s a sure-fire way to get the bully birds distracted.
Check out my article to find out what other birds you can attract with mealworms in your feeders.
Sunflower seeds are like candy to bully birds. Starlings, sparrows, and pigeons love these.
Make sure you get the hulled sunflower kernel as the non-hulled seeds are hard for bully birds to eat.
Remember you want to give them things that are easy to eat to keep them coming back.
5. Annoy them
Last but not least we have one more trick up our sleeve to deter bully birds from your feeders.
The answer is to simply annoy them back.
All birds have certain quirks about them that they just hate to be around. The trick is to find what that is for the birds causing you the most annoyance.
Let’s look at a few common tricks to make your backyard uncomfortable for the bully birds.
Placing a simple wired halo above your feeder can help you reduce sparrow at your feeder.
The University of Nebraska university https://lancaster.unl.edu/enviro/pest/factsheets/072-99.htm completed a study that shows a magic halo device like this one https://birdfeederhalo.com/shop, reduced sparrow numbers up to around 80%.
It’s thought this affects the way the sparrow lands at your feeders and causes them great annoyance. Other birds aren’t too bother bothered this technique.
A lot of Birds and Wild readers find that simply making loud noises around bully birds will deter them.
It’s unlikely the effect will last for long and you may need to do it daily. But this can deter them long enough for smaller birds to have a chance at your feeders.
Clapping your hands, pots, and pans or using a whistle are all effective. But switch it up occasionally as the birds are smart and soon realize you won’t actually harm them.
One way to keep bully birds at bay is to prevent them from nesting near your home in the first place.
During nesting season you can use decoy predators such as snakes or owls to keep birds’ nests at bay.
This tactic will only really work to prevent birds from nesting rather than scaring them from feeders.
Not only will you scare ALL birds from your feeders. But they will get used to the decoys are realize they aren’t actually a threat.
You may have seen shiny Mylar tape for sale which promises to deter certain birds.
The truth is that Mylar tape can be quite effective at deterring birds.
The catch is that not only does it scare off the bully birds but the small birds you want to watch too.
My advice is to stay clear of the Mylar tape for scaring off bully birds.
If you’re having problems with bully birds scaring other birds from your feeders there are 5 ways you can tackle this problem.
1. Choose a feeder that they can’t use
2. Stop them from ground feeding
3. Use food they don’t like
4. Use food they do like in separate feeders
5. Deter them from your yard.
Getting rid of bully birds can be a task. You’ll probably find that a combination of these techniques will work for you.
For me, it was using the right feeders, the right food, and stopping them ground feeding.
Let me know which birds you’re finding hard to deter at your feeders.