-Hard candy lollipop
-Bug sucking device
Among them, though, are terms that reveal a great deal about common problems birdwatchers are looking to solve. Grackles clearly are one:
-How to get rid of grackles
-Get rid of grackles
-Getting rid of grackles
Poor grackles. They can be such beautiful birds, with their bronzy iridescent feathers and yellow eyes. But they can also be real hogs at birdfeeders, driving away many other species looking for a meal. No wonder so many folks want them to go away. If you're one of them, the following dos and don'ts are for you:
DON'T offer seed on open platforms or on the ground.
DON’T allow spilled seed to accumulate under feeders. Grackles and other pest birds like to feed on the ground, and so do rodents.
DON'T feed bread or other food scraps. Grackles will take advantage of almost any food source available. And again, scraps attracts rodents and other unwanted creatures.
DON'T provide suet in sacks, open cages, or nailed to a tree. Doing so makes it easy for feeder pests to raid the stash.
DO remember that if you feed birds, you won't always have much of a choice of what species come to your feeders. Most are extremely adaptable and abundant, so it can be tough to exclude a few while accommodating others.
DO feed birds from feeders that allow a few birds (not a backyard-ful) to access food, and that generate less waste.
DO try using a tube feeder with short perches that allow only small birds to use them –- you can trim plastic perches so that only goldfinches, for example, can fit on them.
DO try using a tube feeder that is surrounded by a wire cage. The wire will allow smaller birds to pass through but keep out larger birds.
DO use suet feeders that require birds to cling upside-down to get at the goods.
DO pay attention to the type of seed you use. Cheap seed mixes usually include cracked corn, a favorite of grackles. Fancy blends aren't necessary. Try single types of seeds, such as sunflower, safflower, or nyjer.
DO restrict or stop feeding birds in the summer. Most birds are raising families then, and even seed-eaters will be feeding insects to their young. Natural food will be abundant.
DO be patient. Grackles typically use feeders heavily during migration only. If you can’t tolerate them for a few weeks in spring and fall, take down your feeders for a while when grackles are abundant. They will likely leave to find an easy meal elsewhere.
Special thanks to Julie Craves, our fabulous "Since You Asked" columnist, for her help with all of our grackle questions. You can find a collection of her past columns, containing more common-sense answers to a variety of questions about birds, on our website, including her October 2007 column, in which she talks more about feeders that keep out bad birds. -- J.E.