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How to Control Grackles

Bird house hanging in a yard.

If you've been to the park, or the zoo, or ate outdoors then the chances are pretty good that you've had a run in with a Grackle. These large, black birds are scavengers and will feed any where they can find food, including your bird feeder. Without some form of Grackle control, these aggressive birds can easily take over your entire bird feeding operation by preventing other species from feeding and nesting.

What are Grackles?

Grackles are large, black birds with glossy, iridescent plumage. The Common Grackle is wide spread east of the Rockies but is less frequent to the west. The Boat-Tail Grackle can be found in the mid-Atlantic and southeast states, while the Great-Tailed Grackle inherits the southwest United States.

Grackles can be found in many different habitats such as farms, cities, feedlots, forests, and suburban areas. Grackles walk around the ground in search of food and will eat a very wide variety of items including crops (especially corn), grain, insects, bird eggs, mice, frogs, acorns, fruit, and more. They also like all kinds of bird seed and will descend on feeders (sometimes in numbers), eat large quantities of bird seed and discourage smaller birds from feeding.

How to Keep Grackles from Raiding a Bird Feeder

Grackles can and will eat from many different kinds of bird feeders such as tube feeders, platform feeders, and hoppers. They will also eat seed off the ground so it's best to avoid these types of feeders if you want to discourage Grackles from invading your back yard.

One of the best ways to prevent Grackles from feeding at your bird feeder is to use a tube feeder with a cage surrounding it. Most bird feeders with cages are too small for Grackles to access the bird seed inside while still allowing smaller birds such as chickadees, titmice, finches, and nuthatches to continue to feed.

If you are using suet as a feed for birds, be sure to use a feeder that only allows access to the suet from the bottom. This means that to feed, the bird must either hover or cling upside down, something Grackles do not like to do.

With the Grackles under control you can focus on attracting and watching the smaller birds you love.