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Blackbirds causing problems? Change the menu!

Blackbirds causing problems? Change the menu!


Blackbirds congregate for a drink at a birdbath.

Crows, grackles and blackbirds are on the move with their families. They could be in your yard monopolizing your feeders! If so, there are a few things you can try to discourage this practice.

Feed safflower: Safflower is a small, white seed that is high in protein and fat. Many favorite backyard birds - including chickadees, House Finches, Mourning Doves, and nuthatches - enjoy safflower. Typically, blackbirds, like grackles and starlings, have trouble cracking open the tough shell. In addition, squirrels typically dislike the bitter taste of the meat of the safflower seed.

Downsize your feeders: Try seed tube or smaller feeders that the big birds can't access. If blackbirds are a problem, it may be best to put away your hopper feeders until closer to wintertime.

Create "small bird" and "large bird" feeding areas: Spread out your feeders throughout the yard so the small songbirds have an area to feed that's far away from larger birds.

Safflower seed must be offered on its own to be most effective. The seed looks and tastes different from other birdseed, so just be patient and give your birds some time to adjust. Being able to feed the birds you want and not the ones you don’t want will help to enjoy your backyard bird feeding hobby even more. Happy Bird Feeding!

Kathy and her husband, John, own and operate the Wild Birds Unlimited, located at 111 S. 24th Street. Billings and at She is a Certified Bird Feeding Specialist and a Master Naturalist.


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