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March 15, 2021 - We got a Starling proof feeder

Updated: May 5, 2021

Updates on 3/22/21: Eastern Pheobes did visit our new feeder and enjoyed their mealworms!

We had been tackling with starlings for the past two weeks. On March 6th, one big purple-ish bird visited our garden and landed right on the mealworm feeder. This creature seemed so pretty with its feather glittering under the sunlight. I used the Merlin ID app and identified it as the "starling." Starling! These marvelous European birds that we have seen flying in flocks and kept shifting the shapes in the dusk sky of old old Rome. We were so happy and excited. Well, on the first day.

Like the other new visitors, once they appeared in our garden, they stayed. Unlike the others, starlings do not share this comfortable environment with any other birds. They soon showed up in groups. Groups of bullies. Starlings seemed to enjoy the mealworms very much and occupied this feeder all day long. They scared away all the other regulars such as Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Phoebes, Carolina Wrens, and Mockingbirds. They were loud, aggressive, and could consume an entire feeder full of worms in one day. Whenever they appeared, all the other birds had to stay far away. We tried to run outside and scare them away, but those "punks" simply perched on the lowest branch above the feeder, staring at us mockingly. What's worse is that these invasive birds could also injure and even kill the other native birds when they are seeking the best nesting and food resources. We definitely do not want to see that happen. Starlings have to leave.

Eventually, we did some research and bought a Starling-proof bird feeder on Amazon (we are not endorsed to write this article, but I would be happy to share the link if you need it). The feeder that we have received is very light and doesn't seem very durable. But hey, it does its job! Compared to the other caged tube feeder, this feeder leaves a big enough space between the wires to let most of the birds access the food inside. It has been five days now, we have most of the regulars including bluebirds and mocking bird back to enjoy their meal. Eastern phoebe seems to have some difficulty, but it is not because of their size but because they do not like eating food while perching on the feeder. They used to pick up the worm quickly while keeping flying in the air, and then they throw the worms in the sky and then catch it to eat. I do miss seeing that fun scene, but at least eastern phoebes are not really feeder visitors and we still see them hanging around in our garden and playing with our grass and bamboo poles.

Starling never showed up. Thank you for stopping by and thank you for leaving us alone, ha :)

P.S. For those who provide suet to birds and also have a starling issue, you could try an upside-down suet feeder to discourage them while the other suet lovers like nuthatch, woodpeckers, titmice, and chickadees have no problems with it. Our other tube feeders with hard-shelled seeds like sunflower seeds and also safflowers did not seem to attract starlings. At least as of now.

Weather report: Mostly Cloudy. H:64 F, L:45 F

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