Because starlings can be such a nuisance by devouring all of the suet, it’s important to use deterrents to keep them at bay permanently.
Putting your fat balls in a specialized feeder is a common method to prevent starlings from eating them in your garden. If you cover up the feeder with plastic, however, other species, including some that can’t execute the same feeding technique as the common starling, can perch upside down and get their food.
The juvenile starlings will start to defend their territory on your bird feeder pole in the spring.
The juvenile starlings will be raiding your suet feeders at this time, but for most of us it may only be a matter of weeks before they disappear for good.
The elimination of starlings at bird feeders is an ambitious goal, but if these pests are kept from coming into contact with bird food, their numbers should decrease, if not vanish, in a few weeks or months at most.
Given that adult starlings can take over the fat ball feeder and make a lot of noise if there are a lot of them there at once, it’s safe to assume that they will scare away smaller, friendlier birds.
Certainly, we can’t eliminate all starlings from bird feeders; but, we may lessen their numbers over time to prevent them from devouring all the suet, which can be purchased in various forms such as suet cakes and fat balls.
I can promise you that keeping starlings away from your feeder will be a lot less of a hassle if you use fat balls inside of it.
Wrapping the fat ball feeder in plastic, leaving only a small opening at the bottom, allows birds to cling upside down to eat the suet, as is usually observed with woodpeckers and chickadees.
Starlings are capable of eating in any position, but they can’t cling to the bottom, which is the method you want to teach them to avoid certain failure.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle, you can just purchase in a squirrel proof feeder, which will deter starlings from entering.
Conceal top of fat ball feeder
Can I presume that when you say “your fat balls,” you’re referring to suet balls in a “typical long, wire fat ball feeder” designed to be hung from a branch or bracket?
A surprising fact about starlings is that despite their size, they cannot cling to the underside of suet feeders or any other type of bird feeder in order to eat.
While starlings can turn themselves upside down, they can’t perch like chickadees or woodpeckers on the bottom of a fat ball feeder or any feeder with a cage-like wire or mesh surround.
Hide at least half to two-thirds of the top piece of your classic long fat ball feeder if you want to prevent starlings from devouring the fat balls.
Firstly, this will leave only two or three inches at the bottom of the fat ball feeder, making it extremely difficult for starlings to cling onto. Starlings that would otherwise hang upside down to reach the limited food source will be deterred by the cover (often a plastic sheet or coke bottle).
Eventually, starlings can be discouraged from feeding from a fat ball feeder by forming the top of the feeder into an upside-down cone by wrapping plastic sheeting around it.
You may also use a plastic coke or Pepsi bottle by cutting off the bottom third (or whatever length would fit your fat ball feeder) and threading the hanging feeder inside.
Trap fat balls behind squirrel proof feeder
A second surefire method to keep starlings away from your suet feeder is to place the fat ball feeder inside a feeder that cannot be opened by squirrels.
A long, hanging-style fat ball feeder can have much of its upper side concealed within a plastic soda bottle as stated above, but a little investment in a specialized squirrel resistant fat ball feeder is all that’s needed.
Currently available fat ball feeders are not designed to attach inside a squirrel resistant bird feeder cage, thus you would have to begin again.
And the best way to be sure of a sturdy build is to purchase a squirrel-proof fat ball bird feeder.
Fat balls caught in the center of the cage surround will allow your typical little birds like chickadees or finches to jump through the small cage holes while preventing starlings from leaving the cage.
The good news is that this strategy works for preventing huge birds from stealing from your feeder, so it will be worth the cost in the long run.
Affix low baffle over bird tray
If you don’t want to spend the extra money on a squirrel-proof fat ball feeder, you can still keep starlings from getting to your fat balls by hanging your ordinary fat ball feeder below a squirrel baffle.
The type of squirrel baffle I have in mind is the kind that you would hang from a tree branch or the pole holding your bird feeder, allowing you to suspend a fat ball feeder from its central point.
This should deter squirrels and should keep pigeons and crows away from the feeder, but it isn’t quite effective enough to keep starlings from dropping by.
If you want to keep starlings out of your fat ball feeder, you should raise the baffle to the highest point possible.
The only way to prevent huge birds like starlings from landing on your feeder is to purchase a hanging squirrel baffle in the shape of a dome. This will prevent the upper half of the fat ball feeder from being within the bird’s reach.
The squirrel baffle in question need only be thin enough to approach the fat ball feeder cage, rather than being tall and wide.
In order to successfully keep starlings away from your fat balls, you’ll need to restrict their consumption by keeping them inside a fat ball feeder.
To prevent starlings from devouring the suet, the fat balls must first be hung within a cage-like feeder.
To hide the top portion of a fat ball feeder, a sheet of flexible plastic can be formed into a cone shape and placed over the top of the feeder, which must be of the cage variety.
Starlings will be compelled to try to cling in an unnatural way—from the top.
To keep larger birds like starlings away from your fat ball feeder, you may also use a recycled soda bottle by cutting out the bottom half and hanging the feeder within.
In place of your present fat ball feeder, you can switch to a squirrel proof fat ball feeder if you’d rather not become crafty.
While starlings won’t be able to hop inside the cage’s interior to get to the fat balls, smaller birds will have no trouble doing so.
To keep the starlings away from your fat ball feeder, you can keep using it if you prefer; just hang it below a small, deep-curve squirrel baffle.