Grackles in Your Yard? If You Can’t Beat Them, Enjoy Them

Tips to Stop Grackles From Taking Over Your Feeders

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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

The grackle has an eye-catching metallic purple and bronze color
The grackle has an eye-catching metallic purple and bronze color

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.

If you see a flock of grackles coming into your yard, remove feeders that are easy to land on until the Grackles move on
If you see a flock of grackles coming into your yard, remove feeders that are easy to land on until the Grackles move on

-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.

Grackle "steals" a Peanut Suet Nugget from the bird feeder
Grackle “steals” a Peanut Suet Nugget from the bird feeder

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.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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