How to stop starlings from eating all the bird food

It's fascinating to watch starlings in action – they can descend upon a bird feeder with such speed and enthusiasm that it seems to empty in minutes! They’re noisy, they squabble and they make a huge mess.

However, these lively birds are facing tough times and are currently listed as endangered on the BTO red list for conservation. Despite their knack for causing a ruckus at the feeder, it's crucial to remember that they, like many other species, need our help and protection to thrive in the wild. There are several reasons to fall in love with starlings. They are omnivorous and have an appetite for insects, grubs, and other garden pests, including leatherjacket larvae. Leatherjackets are young crane flies, and they eat plant roots which stunts plant growth and leads to nutrient deficiencies. They cause patches of lawn to yellow, wither and die too, but starlings can be valuable allies in managing leatherjacket infestations by controlling their populations, reducing the need for chemical pesticides. Plus, their scavenging can aerate the soil as they probe for insects, improving its overall health. Starlings are also known for their breathtaking aerial displays, known as murmurations, where thousands of birds fly together in mesmerising, synchronised patterns. They are intelligent birds who can mimic other species’ songs and have a keen ability to adapt and problem-solve, and let’s not forget the exquisite beauty of their feathers, a feature often overlooked. Starlings display a remarkable iridescence in their plumage, particularly during the breeding season. In the sunlight, their feathers shimmer with shades of green, purple, and bronze, creating a stunning play of colours that can rival any exotic bird. 

How to stop starlings from eating all the bird food

While it’s a good idea to have a few free-access feeders in your garden which the starlings are able to use, it doesn’t hurt to have a feeder just for the smaller birds, too. Although unlike pigeons, crows and magpies, starlings won’t be deterred by the Medusa Feeder defender, and they’re generally light enough not to activate the springs on a Squirrel Buster, I do have a great starling-proof solution. The Starling-Proof Bird Feeder Guardian includes a heavy duty seed feeder surrounded by a robust steel cage which the starlings can’t get past. A tray at the base of the cage prevents food from being spilled, and the bars prevent pigeons, corvids and squirrels from eating all the food, too. I have added a complimentary rain guard to prevent seed from getting wet - it lasts so long in the feeder, that it can become inedible in bad weather. I have tried close to twenty feeder guardian cages, and while this one is an investment, it is worth it in the long run for the money you save on bird food.

5 tips to stop starlings from eating all the bird food

1. Invest in a starling proof feeder
I would love to claim that the Squirrel Buster works as well against starlings as it does against pigeons, crows, magpies and jackdaws, but starlings are too light to activate the mechanism - we've had three feasting at ours with the feeding ports open, even on the lightest setting. The only thing that saves food for the little birds is the Starling Proof Bird Feeder Guardian Cage, which I tested in five gardens as well as our own. Yes, it's an investment, but it's the only one I've found that stands the test of time (and the squirrel's jaws).

2. Time your feeding
Starlings are generally out and about slightly later than other birds, so if you're up with the larks, use that early morning slot to top up your feeders before the starlings wake up.

3. Keep the floor clean
Starlings are attracted to food on the ground, so using a tray beneath the feeder to collect dropped seed or regularly sweeping up is a great way to keep them away.

4. Use a no-mess, premium bird feed
My seasonal food is designed to be eaten, whereas cheaper blends often end up on the floor as the birds kick out the ingredients they don't like. 

5. Avoid putting out bread or table scraps
Starlings will mob a bird table for scraps, so it's a good idea to avoid putting them out if you're looking to deter starlings from your bird feeders.

We have a few free-access feeders that the starlings (and corvids) have access too, and the little birds fly in and hoover up the leftovers, but having one starling resistant bird feeder has made such a difference to the species we attract. Do you have any other tips to deter starlings from your feeders? Send me an email to with your advice.