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Blackbirds and Starlings

I love all birds and do have a soft spot for blackbirds.

I put out mealworms for them almost every day however discovered today that the local starlings and magpies seem to be munching them all.  Within two hours the entire portion was munched.  I think the blackbird and his mate may have got two if that....

Does anyone have any experience of this and how do overcome it to ensure that all the birds get a fair share of mealworms.

Considering putting out two portions but afraid that will just attract more magpies and Starlings.

Thanks as always 😊



  • A tricky one, because unsurprisingly the starlings and magpies will take advantage of available resources just as much as any other bird. I have only had a blackbird visit my garden once, because at the moment there isn't much cover for them, but other birds visit and, like you, the starlings and magpies do tend to muscle in and gobble up the lion's share. This doesn't bother me too much, as they are beautiful birds in their own right and have interesting behaviours to watch, but likewise I do like to see some of the other birds (in my case robins and bluetits) have a chance at the mealworms.

    In all honesty, the only way that I have found to do this is to put out very large amounts of mealworms: the starlings and magpies have their fill, and then the smaller birds either pick at the mealworms on the outside or wait until the bigger birds are done and then come out of the shadows to take their turn. In general, I put at least four scoops out at once, sometimes more, and that way everyone gets a look in. Depending on the time of year and how many birds are around, there is sometimes a bit leftover (although usually not much - most of the time pretty much everything gets eaten), so you may have to experiment in your garden and gauge how much your birds eat in order not to attract rats. We have a little family of field mice living under our shed who pick up food that the birds leave behind, though, and they don't cause any bother, so I tend not to worry to much about a few spare worms. It's all wildlife and they all need to live.
  • NollieNollie Posts: 6,737
    I have a good population of blackbirds, they nest in my leylandi hedge, so seem to appreciate the good, evergreen cover. Could you ascertain where they hang out and maybe provide food closer to their cover rather than putting the food out in the open where it’s perhaps less accessible to the more voracious mealworm thieves?
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • We don't do mealworms only bird feeders with peanuts/sunflowers etc
    The starlings do come to the feeders but not often.
    Magpies have never come to feed apart from when the fruit in the orchard (still green) they love to peck and then the fruit is no good.

  • RubytooRubytoo Posts: 1,307
    I tend not to put out large amounts of mealworms en mass in full view, but sprinkle a few spoons in and under shrubs. Pretty much as Nollie suggested.
    That way shy ones like Dunnock, Wren, Blackbird and Thrush get some. They tend to be lurkers and ground feed here mostly anyway.
    The other birds can and do find them, but as they are less obvious the shy ones get a share. Though sometimes the Blackbirds and Robin get a bit grabby and mean.   
  • ErgatesErgates Posts: 2,068
    We toss out suet nibbles for our blackbirds every morning at around the same time. They hang around under the hedge below the window, and dash out to collect them. We have even had blackbirds fly up to the windowsill to stare at us if we are not quick enough to put the food out!
    We don’t have any starlings or even sparrows in our neighbourhood, the main competition is from the woodpigeons. 
  • B3B3 Posts: 24,412
    I think we need to look after starlings too. The flocks aren't enough to even make a murmur. They're cheeky and have a beautiful song. When's the last time you saw them filling the sky and wheeling about in amazing shapes. Over a decade for me.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • Mark-EMark-E Posts: 182
    We have a couple of blackbirds visit the garden. They stay clear of the bird feeder and instead seem to pick  seeds or worms off the floor. This year we seem to have a roost of starlings each night in the bamboo behind us but they don't seem to take food off the feeders.
  • RubytooRubytoo Posts: 1,307
    @B3 Agree. I think also around a decade here too.
    We used to have so many we could not count them when we first moved here.
    They made a terrible mess but they have as much right to be here as we do.
    As time went by we noticed less and less, not sure why.
    But they seem to be making a comeback here slowly.
    We have murs, not yet murmurations.

    I watched a small flock the other day the low sun was reflecting off their wings as they flew around. I wish I could have captured it on camera.
    Don't  half p*ss the neighbours off pooping on their cars. But it is a small price to pay as far as we are concerned.
    Stunning birds.
  • cazsophieq2019cazsophieq2019 Posts: 179
    edited January 2021
    Hi everyone, I'm kind of cringing at myself.  I know where I've gone wrong.  I should simply sprinkle the mealworms over the lawn then they'll all have a share.

    As it happens in Belfast there's a regular starling murmuration every evening just slightly after the sun sets over the Albert Bridge.  I used to walk home from work when I lived in that part of Belfast and was fortunate to see them performing every evening.  Mesmerising to watch. Sometimes I'd be lucky enough to see the murmur start with just a few birds and see it increase in size as small flocks fly in to join the main Albert Bridge one.

    Great to watch.

    Here you go ...

    Thanks again folks.
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