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Bird Feeder Problems with Grackles, Blackbirds & Mourning Doves

Some of the problem birds at Bird Feeders can include Grackles, Blackbirds, Crows, Mourning Doves, and Starlings. One of the common issues in Backyard Wild Bird feeding is how to attract and feed desirable songbirds and yet limit access to undesirable birds and pests. These problem birds can monopolize feeders and deplete the bird's food very quickly, so that there is none left for the songbirds. One strategy is to let the feeders go empty or remove them for a few days until these birds have moved on to a more reliable food source.

A more active approach is to use our knowledge about these birds to our advantage. A lot depends on the type of seed and feeder that you have. Sunflower seeds attract the greatest variety of wild birds, but require strategies if want to limit large bird's access. Thistle seed, a favorite of Goldfinches and others, does not attract squirrels, grackles or crows. The larger the bird the more room they need to perch or set on a tray. Mourning Doves and Crows in particular are wide bodied and need the most room. Below are 3 nice open bird feeders that put out the welcome mat to all birds for us to see and enjoy. They can accommodate a very large assortment of birds but do not impose any restriction of use.
Recycled Platform Bird Feeder
Recycled Platform Bird Feeder
Cedar Hopper Bird Feeder
Cedar Hopper Bird Feeder
Platform feeders are an example of large open tray feeders that are general all purpose feeders. A good approach can be to use this type of feeder as one of many styles and limit refilling of this one if getting unwanted attention. By choosing a bird feeder that has small perches, a very small tray, or no tray, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of larger birds monopolizing a feeder. Wire Cage bird feeders will effectively block large birds with their 1.5" grid and will only let smaller songbirds pass thru. I have Mourning Doves around my feeders, but they are confined to cleaning up seeds on the ground which is OK. To restrict access and still allow some of the larger desirable birds such as Cardinals, Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, etc, you might have a mix of feeder types.

Let's discuss which Bird feeder types can be used to limit the undesirable birds which are generally larger. To review, the feeder types that have no constraints on bird access are: platform, large tray, and hopper feeders with open ledges.
Tube Bird feeders
Tube Bird feeders
Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders
Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders
Special Bird feeders
Special Bird feeders
Tube Bird Feeders are bird feeders styles that are a little more restrictive with small perches at open ports and wire Peanut or Sunflower Bird Feeders that are only accessible to the clinger birds that can cling to its wire sides and peck at their treat.

An example of Special Bird Feeders styles that are more restrictive are Wire Cage bird feeders that are only accessible to the smaller songbirds that like to cling to its wire sides and pass on thru. Squirrel Proof Bird feeders that are Metal Wire Cage feeders not only block squirrels, but also larger birds like Grackles, Blackbirds and Doves. Unfortunately these cage feeders can block Cardinals and Woodpeckers as well. Cardinals don't seem to like to pass thru a wire cage and prefer to feed on the ground for droppings from these type of feeders. This style can be used along side of other more open styles and is nice to have at least one feeder that is a protected songbird feeder.

Then there are the Metal Mesh Bird Feeders which are less restrictive than the Wire Cage Feeders. These are the styles that can accomplish more of a selective access in favor of the songbirds and a few larger desirable birds like Cardinals. They don't entirely block pests but do make things harder for them.
Sunflower Seed Tube Bird Feeder
Sunflower Seed Tube Bird Feeder
Squirrel Baffle Bird Feeder
Squirrel Baffle Bird Feeder
Sunflower Wire Mesh Bird Feeder
Sunflower Wire Mesh Bird Feeder
The Metal Mesh Feeder styles above with small trays can be a compromise feeder that allows Cardinals and Woodpeckers to come and feed but is still offers some restriction of use. Cardinals can get use to a small tray and Woodpeckers like to cling to the side. Large birds can still get on these feeders, but they won't get much seed. Mourning Doves and Pigeons with their wide bodies have a hard time staying on the small tray for long. The many styles of Cardinal Bird Feeders is shown here.

The internal baffles of some of the feeder designs help keep the seed at upper levels for longer periods for many birds to use. Large capacity feeders that are of the metal mesh design are nice so you don't have to refill as often. Their advantage is a large surface area that many birds can cling and feed at the same time. One feeder design has perch rings and a small bottom tray. Being a wire mesh style the undesirable birds can't as readilly clean out all the seed of these feeders or damage them trying.

These are but a few examples to illustrate the different types of feeders. You can use the principles and ideas discussed here to make a selection that is right for you. More of all the styles can be seen in the Bird Feeders category.

Feel free to forward a link of this article to anyone you think would like to get help with their bird feeding.