HELP ! Too many Starlings

Wildlife

Wildlife
We're about more than just birds (though obviously we like them a lot).
Wildlife questions

HELP ! Too many Starlings

This question has suggested answer(s)

I am disabled and I get immense joy from attracting and feeding wild birds.Everything from red legged partridge to house sparrows. However, my wild bird food bill is now over £100 per week as I have hundreds and hundreds of starlings coming to my garden. All the finches, sparrows, robins, yellowhammers etc aren't getting a look in as the starlings are like locusts!! I am getting into debt and need advice on how to limit the number of starlings. I had the same problem last year and I am still paying the credit card bill for the  extra feed from 2009. PLEASE help me to limit this problem as all the joy has gone out of this pastime and it is costing way too much. Thank you.

All Replies
  • Hi birdy girl

         I know a couple of people like yourself and it's a delicate question.

        I can only say do not get emotionly involved

        Don't take in any injured animals or birds, let an animal sanctury take them off your hands

        ONLY FEED WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD DON'T GE INTO DEBT.

       Starlings will come in large numbers this time of year and will happily feed on scraps

     You could put a cage or wiring round and over the seed etc with the mesh that allows small birds in and keeps larger ones out.

       Your own health is important so try not to get upset even if it means losing some of the birds

       I' m sure you will stil get enough wild life on a smaller budget.

                  Ray

  • Good tips there from Barnsley lad, if you are finding buying bird food is becoming a drain on your finances then why not consider providing some of the cheaper every day food items that birds enjoy. You will find they enjoy windfall or soft apples, cooked rice, cooked potato, cake and pastry crumbs, porridge oats and homemade fat cakes.

    Have a look here for more tips on what to feed birds and how to go about it.

    As for starlings, well they do need help and are really amazing birds if you take the time to watch their antics as many people have commented on the thread here.

    If you do find that feeding is not a viable option for you anymore, providing water is a really positive, and cheap way of helping birds. You may already do this but maybe putting a few extra dishes out where birds can drink and bathe safely will still give you the enjoyment of having the birds in your garden without having to worry about the expense.

  • Hi Birdy Girl and welcome to the forum.

    I know exactly what you mean. I never had Starlings until very recently when they descended on my garden in swarms. At first I resented them gobbling the bird food in minutes and driving the other 'resident' birds away. I was away earlier this week and returned to empty feeders!!

    But, as others have replied on this thread, there are cheaper alternatives they will eat and they are very amusing to watch. I have now put out a greater variety of food and there seems to be room for everyone.

     The large migrating swarms will be gone soon enough and your garden will return to more peaceful times.

    Cheers

    Pipit

  • Barnsley lad

    Hi birdy girl

         I know a couple of people like yourself and it's a delicate question.

        I can only say do not get emotionly involved

        Don't take in any injured animals or birds, let an animal sanctury take them off your hands

        ONLY FEED WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD DON'T GE INTO DEBT.

       Starlings will come in large numbers this time of year and will happily feed on scraps

     You could put a cage or wiring round and over the seed etc with the mesh that allows small birds in and keeps larger ones out.

       Your own health is important so try not to get upset even if it means losing some of the birds

       I' m sure you will stil get enough wild life on a smaller budget.

                  Ray

    Dear Ray,

    Thanks so much for your advice and understanding. It terrible when you love wild life so much and live on a limited income. I bought the cages that you suggested previously. It took the starlings only 2 days before they worked out if they squeeze their heads in first and really squeeze their bodies they can get into the feed !!!! Its funny watching them try to get out as they seem to lose the knack of squeezing through once they have filled their bellies !! I am going to have to be firm with myself as it's not even winter yet, and I cant get into debt and not feed them when it snows. So thanks for caring. Take care and I will follow your advice.

     

  • Dear Ian, 

    Thanks again for replying. I am all for recycling so I will follow your tips, especially as I always have cooked rice or potato left over and have kept some of the windfall apples. (Are they ok eating cooking apples?).

    I have lots of water about in different depth containers to drink or bathe, so I am ok there. I am going to follow yours and Barnsley lads advice and try to be more firm and sensible about the whole thing!!. Will keep you all posted. Thanks again. Birdy Girl.

  • Dear Pipit,

    Thanks for being so welcoming.

    I am going to follow everyones advice and get a grip on the situation(see other replies).  I will keep you posted. Regards, Birdy Girl.

     

     

     

  • Glad we could all be of assistance!

     By the way, cooking apples are fine, starlings will go for all sorts of apples and pears when they are soft enough, other soft fruits like currants and cherries don't last long either!

  • Please do keep us posted, Birdy Girl.

    Most of us on here share your joy in watching garden birds. Long may it continue.

    Pipit x

  • Hi birdy girl

        Thanks for your reply and thanks to all the others who answered your thread.

          You are obviously a lovely person.

                Good luck      Ray

  • Birdy Girl

    I am going to follow everyones advice and get a grip on the situation(see other replies).  I will keep you posted. Regards, Birdy Girl.

     

     

     

    Welcome to the RSPB  Birdy Girl.I am so pleased all the advice is helpful for you .I hope you can now really enjoy the birds without the worry .As you can see, lots to do and water costs so little but is soooooo important summer and winter  Happy 

    Enjoy :o)))





  • You have my sympathy, Birdy Girl.  I live near a starling roost and we are inundated with them in winter time. I love watching them though and I know they need feeding so I try to cope by scattering some of the food around in different places so the other birds have a chance to get in. I also use guarded feeders and I have just ordered a mesh cage.  I realise the starlings are good at finding a way in, but it does slow them down. I also have found that there is a window of time early morning and late evening when the starlings take about half an hour to get to and from the roost.  If I put food out during this time, the local birds can have a go without competition.  The cost is a major consideration, I agree.  I have decided that I need to keep myself to a budget for bird feeding as they will eat all I provide.  Also I keep some back in case we have a hard winter like last year.  Fortunately I have apple trees in my garden and even after sharing them round friends, relations and work colleagues there are three large boxes full in the garage to see the birds through the winter.  Watching the birds gives such a lot of pleasure I hope you find a way to organise yourself so you can enjoy them without anxiety.

  • Hi Birdy Girl,

    Know what you mean about the Starlings. As I am writing this they are out there mobbing the feeders causing all sorts of chaos .... but they do need our help and they are such funny little characters ....  I make up my own fat balls from lard, Muesli (approx 65p kg Sainsburys) Porridge (approx 70p kg Tesco) and just make it up in plastic trays the same size as the square wire scrap feeders.  I make sure these are full first thing in the morning and late afternoon - the starlings seem come in and demolish those whilst mostly leaving the other food alone. Then move on to mob someone elses garden - lol.  As Mozziecat has said make sure you give yourself a budget each week - and stick to it as they will otherwise eat all that you provide. Please don't get into debt - your birds will still come if you provide less.  Keep us updated:) Oh by the way ..... welcome.

  • Hi folks,

    What lovely, thoughtful, helpful responses to assist Birdy Girl - well done to all!  I have started making birdcake every other day with 4 packets of lard (around £1), a couple of packets of bird seed (under £2), a packet of sunflower seeds (£1.50).  I get 8 birdcakes out of all the above & still some seeds left over for feeders & platforms!  So a fiver a week plus a few rounds of bread does it for me and the starlings love it as do all my other friends from the sky.

    I do think the RSPB could lower the prices so we all could put the money back into the charity.  I plod around the pound shops as in these times of dread I couldn't afford to order from RSPB shop.  I'd dearly love to but I find it too expensive.

    Ok, off to get the lard burning!

    Cheers

    Jim

  • Hi Birdy Girl

    Welcome to the forums!

    Just wondering how you buy the seed etc for the birds.

    I buy mine in bulk from an online supplier,this way of buying has advantages in that it is delivered directly to you.

    For example you can get 25kilos of Premium Economy Wild Bird Mixture 
    for £22.75 (inc P&P) from www.wildbirdfood.uk.com 

    But still remember to only buy what you can afford!

    Good luck.

    Rachel

     

  • Dear Everyone,

    Thank you so much for all your replies. Wow ! So nice to now there are so many ordinary bird lovers. I perhaps need to explain the situation here a little better. When I say I have too many starlings, there are 3 separate flocks at the moment (there was only 2 when I first wrote for help). I have attempted to count each separate flock as they arrive in the garden. They all come at once in a big group twice a day,(the noise is so loud!) then separately during the day. I can see the flocks quite clearly as they all roost on the telephone wires across the field from my house.The total number is 130 at the moment. Last year there were 5 flocks in total, which produced another 100, taking it to approx. 230 - 250. I felt overwhelmed.

    I also have at least 50 sparrows, which have grown into a bigger flock, year on year. Approx. 40 mixed Gold/Green/Chaff finches, 4 Great Spotted woodpeckers (who love suet and nuts), 6 Nuthatches, lots of mixed coal and blue tits(so quick and hard to count), thrushes, blackbird, robins, wrens, 3 Jays (aren't these so big!), 2 pied wagtails, various swallows and house martins, 12 beautiful collard doves, a couple of old wood pigeons, 6 new young female pheasants, their pheasant Mum & Dad, several red legged partridge, and a selection of small little brown birds that I haven't identified as yet. Sad to say, no yellowhammers at the moment. I have seen this little lovely bird dwindle over the past 5 years.

    I realise that I am blessed having such a selection of wonderful birds to observe. I fully expect to see Bill Oddie in my garden shed one morning with his binoculars !!

    I use 20 kilo bags of Harrison's Wild Bird Food - wheat free as the wheat seems to attract rats more. I get this from my local animal feed suppliers at £19.00 a bag. But I use at least 2-3 bags a week, plus suet coconut shells and suet cake for square feeders, plus 25 kilo bag of peanuts at £26.00. During wintery months , this will increase. Majority of this seed goes into feeders placed within branches of trees and one man made wood stake hanger for feeders at different levels, plus a caged ground feeder. Pheasants, partridge and jays get their feed on the stone wall away from the mayhem. Plus a scattering on the grass for ground feeders. So as you can see, any help and advice will be welcomed.

    Could someone explain fully how you make the suet cake using lard, seeds etc as that will help a lot. Will the woodpeckers still be able to chip away at this as they do the suet?Plus, what did all these birds eat before we kindly people starting feeding all this seed? Where would they find it.

    By the way, after your advice, I have put out my windfall cooking apples (5 a day) and theres is nothing left but a skin shell once the starlings attack them, so that is a good tip.The cooked rice disappeared, but I didn't see which group of birds ate it.

    It's suddenly all gone quiet in the garden, so I expect a kestrel or sparrow hawk is on the look out for lunch, so I will sign off for now. Thanks again to everyone. You all sound such a lovely group of people. I there were more people like us out there, maybe the world would be a better place. Thanks again. I really appreciate tips and advice.

    Warm appreciation Birdy Girl x