People get frustrated with European Starlings in North America, they are non native and they can snarf up food quickly at the feeders. One of the ways to deal with them is to offer feed mixes that only have hard shell seeds like black oil sunflower seeds or safflower.

red bellied woodpecker and starling

Suet can be a challenge though because it’s hard to find a flavor that starlings won’t eat. Some say plain suet keeps starlings away, but I’ve yet to find animal fat that they won’t eat. The above style of suet feeder works well if you get a lot of larger birds like Red-bellied Woodpeckers because the long piece of wood on the bottom gives woodpeckers something to prop their tails on and hold their bodies up. But starlings can easily hang off of it too.


There are feeders that allow a woodpeckers to hang upside down and starlings have a tougher time doing that (though a small percentage seem to figure out it).

irritated woodpecker

But I think that sometimes we forget that our own native species are capable of holding their own against starlings. The above female Red-bellied Woodpecker stared at the starling for a moment and then appeared to have enough…


And then just started yelling at it. At first the starling was oblivious and then kind of jumped as if to say, “Oh, you talking to me?” The woodpecker lunged and the starling flew away. So sometimes, our native birds can fight back with the introduced species.




Written by Birdchick
Sharon Stiteler was given a Peterson Field Guide to Birds when she was seven years old and snapped. She loves birds - it’s just the way she’s wired. Since 1997, she has made it her goal to get paid to go birding. She runs the popular birding blog,, and has been in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and on NBC Nightly News as well as making regular appearances on Twin Cities’ TV and radio stations. She’s a professional speaker and story-teller and her writing can be found in several publications including WildBird Magazine, Outdoor News, and Birding Business. She wrote the books 1001 Secrets Every Birder Should Know, Disapproving Rabbits and City Birds/Country Birds. When she’s not digiscoping, tweeting or banding birds, she’s a part-time park ranger and award-winning beekeeper.