Learning how to get rid of grackles in a humane way is a challenge because they are abundant in nature and they can be persistent. They live in the Southeastern U.S; they seem to prefer Florida and Texas and they migrate to the North and Midwest during the summer months. The preferred habitat of grackles is agricultural fields where they eat the crops and they are regarded as a greater threat than crows. But, grackles can be found in urban and suburban areas too and they become dominant and harmful to other birds. Homeowners tend to use specialized bird feeders to limit the grackles’ access to food. But, this may not be enough if a large flock assembles and some will resort to poisons. This is unfortunate and humane because they are largely ineffective and a waste of money. In this article we will show you how to get rid of grackles and other nuisance birds.
Grackles and starlings are both noisy birds, but they are very different and understanding the birds that you want to remove is helpful. Grackles are native to the U.S, and starlings are not and they look very different on closer inspection.
Starlings have glossy and spotted features with thin, long and pointed bills. Starlings are true gluttons, they will eat pretty much anything, including: seeds, insects and more.
Grackles have a glossy and iridescent body with intense golden eyes that can be intimidating to stare at. They have long tails and feathers and they consume any food that they can get from farmers fields to bird feeders. Grackles are aggressive and noisy; they carry transmissible diseases and they produce a lot of nasty poop.
Although they are dominant and aggressive, grackles can and do form large flocks with blackbirds and starlings to devour large quantities of food. Dealing with these flocks is a real challenge for farmers and others affected by them.
Grackles can be hard birds to control, but with the right approach and some good products it is possible to make your home a less attractive place for them.
The place where most people tend to notice the arrival of grackles is at bird feeders in their yards, vegetable patches or orchards. Grackles are aggressive and dominant and they tend to bully other birds to prevent them feeded. Certain birds can be very beneficial to the outdoor spaces around the home and they should be encouraged to stay. So, one of the best approaches is to continue feeding the helpful birds and to stop grackles feeding. There are dedicated bird feeders and bird barrier guard products that can be added to existing feeding setups. The most common example would be a cage that smaller birds can enter to feed, but grackles cannot fit inside. Another option is a weight activated feeding system that prevents heavier birds from reaching the seed. Some people have a lot of success with upside-down feeders because grackles don’t like to feed in a hanging position. Denying easy access to the feeding areas will make your yard a less attractive prospect for grackles, blackbirds and other nuisance birds.
Some of the bird repellers are electronic models that can emit two different types of sound to confuse and frighten grackles and other nuisance birds. The first sound is a hawk in flight, hawks are natural predators for many birds and they are keen to avoid them. The second sound is a grackle distress call that sends a warning to other grackles in the area that they are in potential danger. These sounds can be combined to keep grackles guessing and they are less likely to make themselves at home if they feel threatened. The only real drawback is that these sounds may scare other birds away too because hawks are a predator for multiple bird species. But, if you use the distress call and occasional hawk calls this may be enough to reach the right balance. These devices work automatically, but they can be turned off at night to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep.
As we mentioned earlier, grackles will flock with starlings and blackbirds and these flocks can be very large. So, when grackles appear, they tend to arrive in large numbers and this is very common during the summer migrations. They will congregate in trees, on roofs and other higher locations in and around your home. Sound repellent devices can be effective, but using ultrasonic frequency may work better. It’s important to understand that different bird species can perceive different frequencies. But, most larger birds that we would regard as a nuisance including grackles, blackbirds, starlings, pigeons and others, do hear the same frequencies. A properly configured electronic bird repeller will deter these nuisance birds and the smaller birds that you want to stick around will not be affected. These products tend to be passive in nature, they can be powered by a solar panel and they can run all the time. It’s even possible to add other ultrasonic repellers to keep other animals away, such as: cats, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons and more. Check out our article on the best ultrasonic bird repellers for more information.
The best way to prevent grackles from perching and roosting on the ledges, roofs, balconies, trees and other locations is to install bird spikes. Grackles tend to gather in large flocks, they like to stick together and this is especially true when it comes to males of the species. When they flock together they create a lot of nasty mess under that location which represents a health hazard for toddlers and kids. Adding bird spikes to areas that are attractive to grackles will make these places uncomfortable. Most bird spikes are made from resilient plastic or stainless-steel to resist the weather and they can remain effective for years. The spikes work equally well if you’re investigating how to get rid of pigeons or other nuisance birds.
A motion activated sprinkler is an environmentally sound and humane choice when you want to scare birds away. Most ground birds hate a sudden and unexpected burst of water and smaller birds that stick to the trees are unaffected. These devices are very effective on a wide variety of nuisance birds, including: grackles, pigeons and others. As an added bonus you can give your yard some extra water at the same time. The motion sensor will detect the movement of birds and animals that enter the pre-programmed coverage area. Even rats, racoons and squirrels will be deterred by a motion activated sprinkler system. Installing several of these units around the exterior of the home will increase the coverage area and the favorite grackle spots can be doused with water up to a long distance. This solution is extremely effective at the start of the migration period in spring and early summer.
Making the access to food sources hard for grackles is a great way to deter them and to force them to leave. These birds are resilient, but they are always on the lookout for an easy meal and if they can ‘t get one they will go somewhere else. Grackles will gather at bird feeders and bully smaller birds that are trying to feed. Installing bird feeders that they cannot access or securing the vulnerable areas with a bird barrier mist net bird net will help. Grackles and many other nuisance birds like sunflower seeds, vegetables, small invertebrates, insects and other birds eggs. All trash should be secured because grackles have been known to rip open plastic trash bags to feed on waste. A grackle can even fish if it needs to feed and you need to keep them away from your fish pond. Keeping the yard clean, installing nets, using bird repellents, spike strips and other techniques are necessary to make your home a no-go zone.
How do I get rid of grackles but keep other birds?
This is a common question, there are many smaller birds, such as: titmice, chickadees, goldfinches and others, that we want to keep in our gardens. They can feed on shorter perches or they can cling with their claws as they eat. Those same shortened perches will present a real obstacle to grackles because they are larger. If you’re still experiencing problems, make a switch to a feeder that requires the bird to eat in an upside-down position. Feeding in that position is impossible for grackles. In many cases, the grackles will simply give up after a short while and fly away to find food elsewhere.
How to get rid of grackles at bird feeders?
Grackles, blackbirds and starlings prefer to eat corn, millet, wheat, bread and sunflower seeds. So, it’s a good idea to supply food that they hate, such as: nyjer and thistle seeds that finches love or safflower seeds that nuthatches, chickadees and cardinals enjoy. When available food is not to the grackles tastes there are more likely to go somewhere else to eat.
The grackle removal techniques we’ve covered in this article are proven to work. But, limiting yourself to one or two approaches may be less successful. It’s more likely that you will need to try multiple methods to make life uncomfortable for the grackles. Limiting the use of poisons and shooting grackles is admirable because these approaches are not guaranteed to work and they can make the situation worse. If you try these methods and you have limited or no success it’s time to contact a professional. They will know how to get rid of grackles and you can stipulate that they don’t use lethal methods to deal with the problem.