Discourage Certain Birds

Learn how to discourage certain birds at your feeders.

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.

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.

As a last resort, set up a diversion feeder, just for pigeons. This can be a pie plate or an old feeder set away from your other 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 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 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, 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 bird feeders.

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  • Barbara January 15, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Pigeons in Albuquerque,NM will eat anything, including black oil sunflower seeds in the shell. I have resorted to the diversion tactic with some cheap seed in a separate part of the yard. The idea about putting the bird feeder over a bush is something I had not thought of and is worth a try. I have tried just about everything to keep the pigeons of Albuquerque at bay.

  • Anne January 21, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I’ve used the divesion tactic with my backyard pigeons for many years. I’ve found that they can be quite smart and have come to enjoy the pigeons too. They are not random birds but the same group waiting to be fed every day. I confess that I do buy pidgeon food for them.