How to Discourage Unwanted Birds

June 2, 2010



Since pigeons are fairly large birds, small hanging feeders are the most difficult for them to feed from. Hanging feeders will tip with their weight and swing in the air, and if there is limited or narrow perching room, the pigeon cannot get a foothold. Duncraft’s Satellite and Cling-a-Wing feeders would be disappointments to any hopeful pigeon.

YouTube Video on Bird Control Gardening Flowers & Vegetables : How to Control Pigeon Population

To control a pigeon population in the yard, eliminate the food and water source that attracts them, block off nesting and perching areas using string, and sprinkle strong-smelling spices like cinnamon, pepper or cayenne around the property to discourage their presence. To discourage pigeons further, we recommend feeding black-oil sunflower seed in the shell. Pigeons do not like this seed and your smaller birds, and cardinals, will love it. Pigeons especially like: corn, milo, wheat, oats and millet – so stay away from mixes that contain these seeds.

Even if you think you can feed a mix in a small pigeon-proof hanging feeder, you’ll soon find that pigeons, who enjoy eating from the ground, will gather to enjoy various seeds flicked out of the feeder by smaller birds. So, stick with black-oil sunflower in the shell for all-around best bird feeding (excluding pigeons!). If you have a pole feeder, set it in the middle of a bush. Pigeons cannot get in between the small branches but your other birds will like this arrangement and will feel secure feeding. The feeder itself should be about level with the top of the bush.

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As a last resort, set up a diversion feeder, just for pigeons. Duncraft has a large variety of ground and platform feeders. Fill the diversion feeder with any inexpensive seed mix, cracked corn or bakery products. Often pigeons will be satisfied with their own feeder and will leave others alone.

Blue Jays

If you do not want jays feeding at your regular feeders, we suggest a diversion feeder, away from your other feeders, customized just for them: fill it with striped sunflower seed and crushed eggshell (they crave the calcium readily available in eggshell). They also love peanuts in the shell. A few good words for blue jays: They warn other birds and animals of danger, and most birds feel very secure when there is a jay around.


To discourage blackbirds, do not feed corn, bakery products, or most seeds, including sunflower. Instead feed thistle seed (Nyjer seed) and fruits. If you do not want to stop feeding other seeds, then distract blackbirds with baked goods put out in an onion bag away from other feeders.


To discourage starlings, feed thistle seed, sunflower hearts, and fruits only. Stop feeding sunflower seed in the shell, suets and all mixed seeds. Starlings will not stay around long if they are not getting the foods they like from your feeders. However, if you want to divert them away from your feeders, then set out a suet feeder away from your main feeding area.


The aggressive, territorial mockingbird is not a seed-eater, but is a fruit lover. Divert this bird from your other feeders by putting out a fruit feeder away from your other feeders. They also enjoy suet, raisins, grapes, peanut butter mixtures and bread.


House Sparrows

To thwart house sparrows, develop your feeding program around Nyjer seed feeders and small hanging feeders that do not provide the secure footing that they require. Avoid stable platform feeders or feeding tables. Feed black-oil sunflower seed and thistle. Sparrows like seed mixtures that contain corn, oats, milo, wheat and milet; however, these are seeds liked, also, by towhees, juncos, tree sparrows, etc. In the end you may decide that house sparrows are not enough of a nuisance to bother with trying to discourage. Many folks welcome them and hope their presence, along with an abundance of easily obtainable food, will attract a wide variety of other birds. You may also use a diversion strategy: put out their favorite foods in a feeder away from other feeders.


{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann June 4, 2010 at 9:42 am

My new Duncraft bird feeder has been up hanging from a pole–about 4 feet from my patio wall–for 2 weeks and the only birds I’ve seen come to it are 2 chickadees. It is green and round with metal mesh on the outside of this round feeder where the birds perch and a round inner mesh core which I’ve filled with black-oiled sunflower seeds. My obvious need for advice–how can I get the birds to come to this feeder? Thanks for any help you can give me.

Grocery Coupons Free Online June 6, 2010 at 6:01 am

This is an extremely organized and well put together site. It is loaded with valuable information. Thank you!

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Bill July 13, 2010 at 1:03 pm

how do i keep unwanted small black birds from taking the feed? with out changing my feed. they hang on to the metal bird feeder pole to jump onto the feeder. would putting lard on to it so they slide down and can,t hold on help. or putting chicken wire over top work. if you can help i would like to here your ideas. thanks.

Bill July 13, 2010 at 1:05 pm

any help would be appreciated

rose July 14, 2010 at 11:33 am

My problem is the hawks . Hawks have been attaking all my other visiting feathered friends. Very up setting. The hawk comes right to the deck. It has taken a blue jay & a robin. PLEASE what can I do?

rose July 14, 2010 at 11:42 am

How to get rid of Hawks? Help

stephanie July 15, 2010 at 6:34 am

how can i discourage birds from building nests up in my roof?

Louann Wrasman August 15, 2010 at 4:16 pm

I have hundreds of blackbirds in 2 of my very tall maple trees. They are making a mess in my yard. How can I get rid of them?

Jason October 12, 2010 at 1:18 pm

I’ve been having a real problem with House Sparrows this year. I feed only sunflower hearts and thistle but they still seem to gorge themselves and chase away other birds. I have the Squirrel Buster Deluxe set on a low sensitivity and I removed the perching ring and shortened the perches. This has been somewhat effective but the sparrows are still hanging all over it. Does anyone have any suggestions on a good feeder or methods that will stop them ? I don’t want to do the distracton feeding. i just wouldn’t be able to keep up with it. Thanks.

R. Brune October 13, 2010 at 11:46 am

Sorry everyone, for some reason some of our posts aren’t coming through. For House Sparrows, try a “Cling a Wing” feeder. This will work for big birds too. These birds can’t really cling to the openings–at least not for long. And the swinging motion as they land on it will also discourage them. As to hawks, the only thing you can do is to feed the birds under the cover of dense bushes or at the edge of woodland so they can eat without being easy targets for hawks. Or, stop feeding altogether until the hawk learns this isn’t an easy food source anymore. As to huge flocks of birds, usually the problem resolves itself as these birds begin to migrate. But there really isn’t much you can do to scare off big flocks of birds, especially if they’re up in the trees.

Jason October 13, 2010 at 6:02 pm

The new underneath feeder looks interesting. House Sparrows hate to cling and I think that feeder could discourage them. I’ll have to try my satellite clinging feeder I found in a box. Oh by the way, I tried the Sparrow X Magic Halo, it didn’t work well at all this summer. I think the dry summer really made the House Sparrows not afraid of it.

Jason October 13, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Bill, try safflower seed. Sounds like to me you have a problem with Starlings or Grackles. Blackbirds don’t like safflower. Try it out.

Jeanasina October 14, 2010 at 5:27 am

I also had huge problems with the House Sparrows completely taking over every feeder I have, including the suet logs I have out for the woodpeckers! I did some research on line and found out that Sparrows hate fishing line! I have squirrel baffles over each feeder and log. My husband drilled tiny holes all around the baffles and I attached fishing line and tied it on all around the baffles so it hung down to the bottom of the feeder or logs. I was absolutely astonished when the next day I watched and the sparrows would fly towards the feeder or log and then quickly turn away. I have had the fishing line up for over a month now and I would say it has kept 90% of the Sparrows away from those particular feeders and the suet log feeder! They will still feed on the ground under the feeders but won’t go on them!

This has been very successful for me and I have a LOT of feeders up. IF this didn’t work, I was going to order the HALO which is explained here:

Hope this is of some help! Oh! In anticipation of your question, all the other birds STILL come to the feeders and don’t seem to pay any attention to the fishing line!

PJ January 5, 2011 at 10:01 pm

When having a problem with Hose Sparrows stealing nest boxes, It’s my understanding that if you can get rid of the male Sparrows your problem is greatly reduced. In the book “The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds” they show the plans for building a House Sparrow live trap called a “Huber House Sparrow Trap”. Does anyone offer this or something similar commercially for sale?

Nancy March 22, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I read a post last year that mentioned hanging metal wires above the opening of a bluebird house to keep sparrows out. Could anyone give me more information on that technique and why it works?

Rose March 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I have 2 aggressive, loud, raucous mockingbirds chasing everybody away from my feeders. I’ve got 3 sunflower tubes, a thistle sock and a suet feeder. They take huge clumps of suet and sit on top of the feeder and chase everyone else away. I’ve brought in the suet, but they still come looking for it and squawking. Should I make up their own feeding station away from my regular feeders??

PJ June 2, 2012 at 8:30 am

I have two blue jays who are harrassing my indoor cat. I do not feed the birds. They are keeping up prisoners in our house as we can’t keep the door open as the cat will try to go through the screen door to get the birds. There may be a nest nearby, but we don’t see them going in/out of tree as if to tend it. How can we discourage them?

donna paro June 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Bought bluebird house for feeding your nuggets…..have the house
alone by itself……the opening facing north……I put the nuggets on
the outside of the shelf… encourage feeding…..I do not have any
luck with the bluebird feeding outside or inside……Yes, we do have bluebirds….one family is nesting 100ft away! Please help! Thank you dp

cheryl miller December 4, 2014 at 3:12 pm

I have pigeons — and they do not wait for other birds to flick seeds out of the feeder; they fly at it and knock the seeds out; I’ve even seen them flap-hovering in order to peck at a feeder they cannot perch on. I feed seeds that they do not typically “like” but apparently this flock did not get the memo…

Donna March 1, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Add ‘peanuts’ to the list of things mockingbirds love. Hulled peanuts. We have one feeder guarding now, and he just swallows the peanuts whole, one after another.

Victoria May 6, 2015 at 12:54 pm

I have a thistle seed feeder for the goldfinches. There are a large number of starlings that are eating from it. They seem to love it. I discouraged them from the other feeders by adding safflower seeds to the mix. It has helped tremendously. The starlings and bluejays do not like safflowers.

Patrick June 7, 2015 at 4:27 pm

Safflower seeds seem to deter grackles and bluejays. However, my group of flickers and woodpeckers aren’t crazy about safflower seeds and want their peanuts back. Of course the grackles and jays also love peanuts. Is it possible to feed peanuts to the flickers and woodpeckers and somehow keep the grackles and jays away?

Heidi Babb June 12, 2015 at 9:06 am

The jays seem to prefer peanuts in the shell, and I find that the flickers and woodpeckers like the shelled peanuts a little better (at least at my house). You could try a diversion feeder for the jays with the peanuts in the shell and black oil sunflower seeds. The grackles (according to my research) would prefer black oil sunflower seed over the peanuts, so that might work for them, too. Grackles and jays can be greedy, bossy birds, but both really have their plusses. For example, grackles will eat Japanese beetles and other types of destructive beetles that most birds dislike.

Patrick June 12, 2015 at 2:59 pm

I appreciate your comments and suggestions regarding the jays and grackles. I have set up a diversion feeder as you suggested and I will be very interested to see what happens. I have found that the upside down suet feeders work very well … the jays and grackles refuse to eat upside down, while the woodpeckers, flickers and nut hatches, etc. do not mind at all. Thank you.

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