We enjoy attracting all types of birds to our backyard to marvel at their beauty, magnificence and enjoy their company. But sometimes a beautiful bird like Common Grackles can dominate other birds, and take over your feeders.
These large blackbirds have huge appetites, travel in big flocks and can take over your bird feeders by eating everything they can get their beaks on.
Common Grackles are native to North America and are quite beautiful to look at. They have striking iridescent plumage and distinct calls.
Some people enjoy having grackles in their backyard bird ecosystems. Other people prefer they go elsewhere.
Whatever your preference, you need to keep these birds under control.
Keeping Grackles Under Control
Here are a few tips to stop them from taking over your feeders.
-Use feeders with small or collapsible perches
Get a feeder with a perch that closes when too much weight is on it to keep out grackles.
Another option is to get a feeder with small perches designed only for songbirds. Grackles are too large to grab hold of the perches and won’t be able to eat the seed.
But keep in mind, the birds might land onto the feeders and knock seed on the ground.
-Put a cage around your feeders
Mesh cages are a useful squirrel-proofing device but work just as well with grackles.
A flock of hungry grackles can devour suet and empty feeders in a matter of minutes, but they’re too large to get through the cage feeders designed to keep out squirrels.
Don’t worry, smaller birds will still be able to get through the compartments in the cage.
-Avoid tray and hopper feeders
Tray and hopper feeders are serving platters for grackles to feast.
If you see that flock of grackles coming into your yard, pack up your feeders temporarily until the birds move on.
-Use black oil sunflower seeds to reduce spillage
Birds can be pretty messy and dump much of the seed they don’t like on the ground. The problem is that grackles eat all the spilled seed on the ground.
Put black oil sunflower seeds into your bird feeder because birds will eat everything and won’t spill very much leaving very little for them to feast on.
-Use Safflower seeds in feeders
Grackles don’t like safflower seeds, but birds like chickadees and nuthatches do. If you don’t serve food grackles like, they will be out of your hair in no time.
–If you can’t beat them, enjoy them
This urban dwelling blackbird is quite beautiful, fun to watch and hear their unique calls: a loud and deep chuck.
You can try to enjoy them while they’re around and eventually they’ll move on.
We’re not quick to label a bird as a bully and prefer to coexist with all bird species that drop in.
We enjoy their quick visits to the feeders. It’s challenging to photograph them because they move so fast and it’s fascinating to study their behavior.
So appreciate the Common Grackle and find the good qualities in this bird.
And let’s all coexist.
Yup, grackles. Well, as the song goes, “all God’s children got a place in the choir,” so while not exactly happy about their blitzing my feeders, I’ve learned to live with them. And in the past couple of weeks, I’ve repeatedly watched an amazing scene: an adult grackle grabs suet, then flies to the ground and feeds the suet to one of the two or three juveniles on the ground. Sometimes one of the young perches at the top of the pole from which the feeder is hung, so is only a couple of feet from the adult. What a thrill it is to observe this behavior!
We love watching Grackles. They act like they are committing a crime grabbing suet from the feeder. The fledglings are so much fun to watch. They’re not a pest to us, we appreciate having them.
I shoot them with my air rifle and also trap them with a bird trap.
I agree with your appreciation of grackles. One year our oak trees were smothered with worms that hung from the limbs on long strings of web. It was impossible to walk through the yard without running into them. Then the grackles came. It was like a scene from “The Birds”. They only stayed about 10 minutes and ate every worm on the trees. Now, I have deep respect for these magnificent birds.
Hi Lori. What a fabulous story! It’s proof that every creature was created with a purpose.
Hi Lori. Amen! Every living creature should be celebrated for their purpose.
My son rescued 2 baby grackles in May of this year that had fallen from their nest. Unfortunately only one survived. Tiki has been with us ever since. She has become best buds with our Yorkie. She eats what ever we eat as well as corn- fresh frozen, shredded cheese, bread and meal worms. She does not like sharp edged foods. Tiki has a sweet tooth liking baby cereal with honey as a youngster. She is ready for bed once the sun has gone down and will cryr until put to bed. I never thought I would want a baby grackle as a pet , but she proves me wrong daily and I love her.
Hi Carolyn. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story.
last early june, we had a terrible storm, and i found a little grackle, with only pin feathers, spread out under a tree. he was cold and at first i thought he was dead. realizing that he was not, but would be by morning, i took him home, warmed him up, and began feeding him catfood “mush”. well, he grew and did well and eventually had to be allowed to learn to fly and be a bird. i introduced him to bird seed, pea-nuts and meal worms, (his favorite). he roosted in the garage at nite or in the trees. he would always come and see us, sit on our shoulders, pick at my necklace and was so curious and very smart. one fall day he took off with the other birds, which was the goal, but we really miss him, (and so does our neighbor). i hope he’ll be back in the spring.
Teresa, did your grackle come back this spring? Thanks so much for this beautiful story.
i’m not sure if he’s here or not. we have a fair amount of grackles in our yard, but so far i cannot identify him. last year he would come when i called him, but so far, not this year. i hope he does, i would sure love to have him visit me.