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Jen

I thought Grackles were originally a European bird (At least the ones we had in Maryland I thought were....) in which case they aren't indigenous.... That said, now that I am in Oklahoma the grackles are OUT OF CONTROL!!!
The hospital in our small town uses a distress call to keep the grackles away and it seems to work.... and we have them in town year round.

EUNICE sivertsen

i operate a duck resc ue and have bowls of scratch feed outside for them i have domed in the wole yard with hardware cloth i have bought scare eyes because they find the smallest hole and swoop in i am at wits end what do i do next they are here all the time in florida. they go into the ducks bowls and spill the seed all over we are trying to find out how they get in but it is getting crZY THOUGHT THE SCARE EYES WOULD HELP AND NOT SCARE THE DUCKS HELP

Matt Mendenhall

S. Lane: Here are three ideas. You could try Terror-Eyes, a predator replica that scares birds away:
http://www.bird-x.com/terroreyes-p-6.html

There’s also a product called ScareCrow that shoots short bursts of water to scare away problem animals and birds. I have not used it but the reviews suggest that it does the job...however, at $89 it isn’t cheap. A well-timed short burst of water from the hose might also work.

http://www.contech-inc.com/Products/Scarecrow/

Or perhaps a falconer could help. The Texas House passed a bill last March making it easier for falconers to use trained hawks and falcons to control pest birds. http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/outdoors/stories/032509dntswfirstbill.6e331a6b.html

And you're right. It is illegal to shoot native birds. The law that says so -- the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (http://www.fws.gov/laws/lawsdigest/migtrea.html) -- was signed in 1918, long before most of us were born.

S.Lane

I live on an acre north of Ft. Worth, TX. We are covered up with grackles this year. They've eaten bird eggs and small birds. We are in a one acre lot neighborhood in the country...everyone has 2 to 5 large dogs (no deterant to grackles) NO ONE feeds other birds (or has feeders)out here (again no attraction to grackles). Everything is neat, clean, & mowed. The grackles have run off almost all the other birds we had out here. The bird lover/tree hugger/whale savers have made it impossible in our parts of Texas to shoot at these pests. Our roofs look awful from bird poop.....HELP! How can we get rid of the thousands of grackles that now call this their(year-round) home? THANKS. S.Lane

Matt Mendenhall

Hi Lisa,

First, don't feed bread. It could attract more grackles, and possibly even rodents.

More importantly, however: If grackles are killing other birds, it seems to me that the problem in your yard is past the point of finding a new way to distract them. My advice is stop feeding birds now. I'm sure it's unintentional, but the fact is that the feeding station is luring birds to their deaths.

Take down the feeders for the summer. Natural sources of food are plentiful right now, so your birds will be fine. Then in fall or winter, get the feeders back out again.

Lisa

Here in Michigan, it seems that they stay all summer. Right now, in mid June I have several families feeding their young in our front yard and I am afraid that the babies will continue to feed and bully here long after they have fledged. They make a morning tyrade of it until my suet and post feeder are empty. They not only monopolize the feed, they are extremely aggressive. I found a dead bird out there yesterday. Now, I am not sure the fate of this most recent bird, but I have had this problem before at another location and it was grackles. They were killing sparrows for trying to feed in my yard. We figured this out after close observation of behavior and consulting our local wildlife experts out here. As opposed to when a cat or hawk or other predator got a bird, these birds were completely intact except for their eyes, and laying right below the feeder. I was finding 1 to 3 dead birds a day! I know that seed from the feeder falls to the ground, but I have chipmunks, voles and doves that clean it all up. I read in a couple different places that tossing bread on the ground may distract the grackles enough to let the others feed...I am tempted to try it as I have specific species coming that I will loose if I switch my seed. (I tried switching to safflower the first time and not even the sparrows would eat it!) Has anyone tried the distraction feeding? Do I really have anything to lose by throwing food on the ground if they are otherwise going to raid my feeders anyway? Is it possible that things will calm down when the young start feeding for themselves? Blue Jays can be piggies too, but they don't generally kill others for it! Any input would be helpful.

bwfov

Hi Diane,
The birds should leave soon as their migration season winds down. To get them to move on sooner, try switching to a different seed, such as safflower, or take down your feeders for a week or so.

Good luck.

- Matt Mendenhall, Birder's World

Diane

Ugh! I just started putting out feeders for the first time last year, and I'm so excited to see new birds and naming them all. I also have a grackle problem. Large flocks of them in Michigan. Will they ever leave?

Matt Mendenhall

Hungrydog, there's a great photo of a grackle on the Birder's World Forum:

http://www.birdersworld.com/brd/community/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1065

Hungrydog

I had never even heard of a grackle until I read this. I'm from PA.

Matt Mendenhall

Hi Moira,
The grackles in your area are Great-tailed Grackles - larger versions of the eastern Common Grackles. The dates you listed correspond with the nesting season, so it's likely that they nested in your area and have now moved on. It's impossible to say where they went, but they may have headed to agricultural areas, feed lots, or pastures for the non-breeding season.

Moira

I LIVE IN TUCSON AZ AND THE FIRST GRACKLE I SAW WAS 3/21/08. THEN THEY ALL LEFT BY 6/29/08. WHERE DO THEY GO? I HAVE NO BIRD FEEDERS BUT THEY HAVE MANAGED TO KEEP THE OTHER BIRDS FROM THE AREA.

Matt Mendenhall

I don't know if you're serious about getting a shotgun, Patsy, but since this is not the first time that shooting grackles has come up in the comments, I feel I must tell you that it's a violation of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act to kill any native bird that is not a gamebird. That includes grackles.

This page from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service describes the laws that protect birds, including MBTA:
http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/intrnltr/treatlaw.html

Here's the list of protected birds:
http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/intrnltr/mbta/mbtandx.html

And this PDF lists the 125 non-native species that are not protected by the act:
http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/issues/nonnative/Final%20NonNative%20Species%20List.pdf

If you want to continue feeding quail and doves, then I don't think there's any way to get rid of the grackles. It's great to hear that you're feeding bluebirds -- they need all the help they can get.

Patsy

I live in the country and have a HUGE flock of grackles living in the woods in front of my house.I took down the platform feeders because the would perch on them and dump a whole feeder onto the ground so the whole flock could get to it. I put up weight bearing feeders but they must not be sensitive enough because they are still getting into them and they can hang upside down to get to the seed. I don't want to quit puttind food on the ground because I have huge flocks of doves and a couple of quail that feed here so I not only do not clean up the spillage but I also throw food out on the lawn for the ground feeders. I live in Louisiana and this flock has been here since May without leaving. I had the same problem last year and I think they only left in the winter. I do not want to take the feeders down because I have bluebird boxes full of chicks and the bluebirds feed at my feeders. I also have 3 families of redheaded woodpeckers feeding at them. I am ready to go buy a shotgun and bird shot!

Matt Mendenhall

I'm sorry to hear about your grackle troubles, Guy. It may not be much comfort, but the birds aren't trying to be evil; they probably perceive you as a threat and are trying to defend their territory. As for what to do, here are a few ideas:

People sometimes use scare devices such as reflective strips of mylar, plastic, or vinyl; pie pans; or CDs hanging from strings. Spotlights and recorded bird distress calls might also work. There’s also a product called ScareCrow that shoots short bursts of water to scare away problem animals and birds. I have not used it but the reviews suggest that it does the job...however, at $89 it isn’t cheap. A well-timed short burst of water from the hose might also work.

http://www.contech-inc.com/Products/Scarecrow/

Good luck.

Guy Pines

I don't have any feeders and the grackles here in Florida are permanent, not migratory. These birds are pure evil. Forget the poop, they swoop down upon us in the back yard as if they are trying to attack us. How do I get rid of these birds from Hell?

Chuck

HI everyone-- Thought you'd like to know that Don and Lillian Stokes describe seven ways you can deal with grackles in an article in our August 2008 issue. You can read it online here:

Coping with Grackles
http://www.birdersworld.com/brd/default.aspx?c=a&id=1133

Chuck Hagner
Editor, Birder's World Magazine

Matt Mendenhall

Rebecca, birds have bills, not teeth, so if it's teeth marks you see, then the culprit is a mammal -- squirrel, mouse, or something else. Also, although other bird species will nest on buildings, grackles nest in trees - typically conifers. best wishes, Matt

Rebecca

Hi...ok, so I think I have one of these fun birds nesting just below my roofline.. and it appears he/she has been eating the wood around the roof as well... I can see all the jagged edge of "teeth" marks... is this possible? Has anyone heard of this? What do I do????

Dudley Gilmer

Ha! I just read my comment about "widow" bashing. Sorry 'bout that typo. Guess the cowbirds haven't gone quite that far (yet)! Dudley

Dudley Gilmer

We love keeping our feeders up in summer.Until this summer, we havehad the most spectacular birds that are here in summers only. Taking down our feeder would be our saddest option. But the cowbirds have taken over and run off the others. Maddeningly, a male cowbird bashes into our window about ten (or more) times per hour unless we keep our curtains closed. We live in a scenic area. We want to look out the window, and we want to watch birds. Nobody has mentioned the intentional widow bashing. Help! Dudley

Paisley

My husband and I have a HUGE Grackle problem. We have three dogs that stay outside. The Grackles take the dog food and dip it in their water bowls and make the BIGGEST mess!! We don't know what to do. We've tried moving the food away from the water and it doesn't seem to faze them at all. They just walk that much further to dip it in the water. My husband has even shot at them with a bee bee gun and that doesn't scare them either. Please email me with ANY suggestions at paisleymarshall@yahoo.com!!!

Matt Mendenhall

Hi Shani,
No, I'm not aware of scaregrackles. The birds are dropping the fecal sacs of their young. Our columnist Julie Craves wrote about why they do this in December 2003: http://www.birdersworld.com/brd/default.aspx?c=a&id=214
The best advice I can give is to be patient. Once the young fledge in two weeks or less, the parents will stop this annoying behavior.

Shani

We live in the country and just got a beautiful inground pool, the problem is grackles are purposefully dropping their poop in the pool. It's a mess. Is there a such thing scaregrackles (as opposed to scarecrows)??

Matt Mendenhall

Kev,
The best strategy, it seems to me, would be to feed your dogs where the grackles can't get to the Iams. The birds currently have a reason to stop in your yard, but if you move the food to the kitchen, mud room, barn, garage, shed, or other indoor place, you'll stop attracting them. Or, if feeding the dogs indoors isn't practical, then the next best thing would be to pick up their bowls as soon as they're done eating so the birds can't get to the food.

Kev

No they don't always leave! Texas for some reason manages to have year round populations of these horrors!
I do not have bird feeders...but they love Iams large breed dog food, a lot. Only way i have found to rid myself of these pests has been a .177 cal air rifle...or shotgun if you are outside town. Or does anyone want to trade two useless dogs for one good one?

Louie Kizis

My yard has no feeders. The grakles taunt my dog and he will chase them until they are too high. The poop everywhere and make me crazy. Help.

Louie Kizis

There are no feeders in my yard. The grakles love to taunt my dog until he chases them everywhere in the yard. They poop everywhere and I cannot figure out the attraction for them. Help!

Maggie

I chuckled when I read your list because I have done all of the suggestions, except take down the feeders. I don't want to lose my chickadees, titmice, etc. As for the cages, the grackles hold on tight and stick their faces in, through the spaces. I have 2 weight-bearing cages which close when the grackles land; but they still manage to snatch a few seeds for their efforts.

I am happy to hear that they migrate - I can wait until October. But can you please promise me that, unlike the Canadian geese which no longer migrate, these grackles really WILL leave ?!

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