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Starlings attacking nest box

Hi, we urgently need ideas on how we can stop a couple of starlings trying to get to the baby blue tits in the nest box. They’ve been at them for the last couple of days.  It’s a small holed, wall mounted box without a perch - they can’t get their whole head in. I’m almost as frantic as the parent birds!


  • WoodgreenWoodgreen Posts: 1,273
    I once watched helplessly as a starling plucked tiny sparrows from a nest and dropped them to their deaths. The starling took over the nest for itself. I dont know what to suggest in the short term but I always have the metal plates on nest boxes to try to prevent woodpeckers and squirrels from enlarging the entrance hole in order to reach the eggs or chicks. Hopefully someone can suggest what you can do now that won't disturb the adult bluetits.
  • Sue & MuttonSue & Mutton Posts: 120

  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 9,972
    I had the same dilemma with blue tits in my nest box last year.
    A magpie was determined to get in - even trying to pull the nest box from my pergola. I'd often see the box at quite an angle as it was just one screw holding it in place.
    My heart was often in my throat when I saw it pecking at the hole and I'd run down the garden waving my arms about to scare it off.
    I secured the box with string so it couldn't move.
    The magpie still tried to get its head inside but it couldn't.
    The blue tits fledged on 30 May last year.
    This year I used the rose growing on the pergola to wrap around the box and I secured the box with an additional screw so there's nowhere for other birds to get a grip.
    So far so good -I can see them now whizzing in and out with food - a lovely sight.
    The hole on the boxes is quite high up, and is designed to only allow blue tit size birds get in, so hopefully your babies will be fine too.
    I think we get more scared than the birds do!
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • WoodgreenWoodgreen Posts: 1,273
    "I think we get more scared than the birds do!"
    Quite so, @Pete.8
    I usually wander down each day to check why the blackbirds are having such an almighty panic session. It's inevitably just because the tawny owl has come to snooze on a nearby branch, as it does most days, but the racket the blackbirds make......I end up going to see what's up.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,236
    The hole guards are certainly a good idea. I bought one recently, but the birds have been going in and out, so I'll wait to put it on. 
    It's always heart breaking, even though it's all part of the cycle of nature. The other birds have to eat as well. 
    I wonder if it's worth having feeders out for the other birds to access. Give them obvious food to distract. I tend not to have any ground feeders out from end of April until about late August/early September, but the cages always have food in them.
    The starlings don't bother coming in again until about now, when they have youngsters to feed. They started appearing a couple of days ago, trying to get in the cages, but haven't gone near the nest box at all. I'll keep an eye out though.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • BlueBirderBlueBirder Posts: 212
    I know it's awful, but it's part of nature... hard to watch - I cried when this happened to a box near me! If the starlings can't get their heads in, I think the blue tit young will be OK. Once they've fledged the starlings will leave them alone. 

    Fingers crossed for you.
  • bertrand-mabelbertrand-mabel Posts: 1,964
    We have a very very old bramley apple tree. One year we noticed the GS woodpecker making such perfect holes in the trunk. Great we thought they are going to nest here. NO!!
    They waited until the great tits nested in the holes and then one by one pulled the fledglings out. @BlueBirder yes it is nature.
  • Poor Blue tits... I don't think the starlings are big enough to bring down a box nor peck through the box though. 
    Happy Gardening
  • Sue & MuttonSue & Mutton Posts: 120
    Thanks for your replies, hopefully they’ll fledge and we can come up with a plan. There’s now a sparrow that wants in too!

  • Allotment BoyAllotment Boy Posts: 5,987
    I knew about woodpeckers and Magpies,  but didn't realise Starlings did this too. We have 2 new boxes made of that woodcrete stuff so I know they can't get in . One box is on the house wall like yours,  the other is in the Bramley apple tree.  Exited to see both in use, but the tree is also where I hang the feeders. I will have to keep a close eye on them now. My big problem with starlings at the moment is, we were using the square insect fat blocks, but thestarlings just come en masse and take the whole lot in a day, the other birds hardly get a look in. 
    AB Still learning

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