Grackle Problem Solved

In Virginia, the migrating flocks of mixed blackbirds (grackles, red-wing blackbirds, starlings and cowbirds) would descend on our bird feeders during spring and fall migration. One moment we could have finches and cardinals eating at the feeder and the next minute, the yard would be filled with hundreds of blackbirds clamoring for bird seed. Migration lasted for about 2 – 3 weeks and the birds were gone.

We think we know where they were all going in the spring… to New Hampshire where we now live. Experts say that as food becomes more plentiful in the warmer months, feeders account for less than 25% of most songbird’s diet. But it must be 90% of the grackles’ diet. We took the seed feeders down early but continue to feed our hummingbirds and the woodpeckers with suet feeders pictured below….that is, until the flocks of grackles found the suet.  In numbers, they could tear apart a suet cake in two hours.

woodpecker on suetMy daughter showed us her grackle-proof suet feeder that worked for them so mister gardener got to work to build one for us. He crafted the new feeder to fit the suet cage, which he fixed horizontally beneath the structure, pictured below:

suet feederThe suet is caged just inside the structure to allow clinging birds to hang on to the bars of the cage. The grackles (and squirrels!) try their hardest but so far have been unsuccessful in hanging upside down. The birds we enjoy have no problem hanging on to the horizontal cage. The noisy chickadee families, the nuthatches, several kinds of woodpeckers and the titmice visit our new feeder and entertain us…. all dining upside down.

suet cage

5 thoughts on “Grackle Problem Solved

  1. Since I removed the seed feeders, the grackles have moved on to other feeding grounds. I must admit that I occasionally sprinkle a handful of shelled sunflower seeds over the ground. I love seeing the cardinal babies and blue jay babies being fed by their parents. And I have one plump robin who prefers seed over worms. We have PLENTY of insects but he guards the area and waits for my shelled sunflower seed. This is a first for me.

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  2. What a clever idea! The blackbirds came in the fall, stayed all winter and show no signs of moving on. We bought a pretty pricey suet feeder to keep them away from the cakes, but the raccoons managed to get it off the stand and once it was on the ground, they reached between the guard bars and ate most of a suet cake. I’ll have to get The Squire to make up one of these. Thanks!

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    • I do miss Virginia and enjoyed reading your witty and interesting blog and will continue to read it to catch up on the good life in Virginia! However, if there is one thing I do not miss about living in Virginia, it is the nightly raids of raccoons. They are the cutest babies but the adults are HUGE and scary! We hung suet from a high limb by wire that we could raise and lower, but the raccoons could do the same thing! We finally outsmarted them by hanging it from a high limb by a very long metal “shepherd’s hook” purchased from a bird store.

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