5 Common Backyard Birds you DON’T want at your bird feeder

Bird feeding is an absolutely massive industry in the United States, and why wouldn’t it be? The hobby of feeding birds offers people the chance to get up close looks at a wide variety of species ranging from cute to extremely bright. While there are plenty of amazing birds to play host to, there are also some that you really don’t want making themselves at home at your bird feeder. Whther it’s due to their gregarious nature, or the way they bully other birds, here are 5 birds you don’t want visiting your bird feeder. 

Before we get started, keep in mind that this is a subjective list and some people may adore these particular species and welcome them to their yard and at their bird feeders. We aren’t saying any of these birds are necessarily bad, but rather that they may be problematic for other species in the yard.

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

Kicking off the countdown is a large blackbird species wide spread across much of the United States: the Common Grackle. Common Grackles live in Eastern North America with their summer range expanding north into Canada and west as far as Idaho. They are actually quite sleek in appearance with a long tail, jet black body,  iridescent head, and bright yellow eye. While they are a native species and therefor not a huge problem from an invasive standpoint, they can still pose problems due to the way they behave around the feeders. With a larger size than most other backyard birds, Common Grackles tend to take over and can become bullies. Additionally, they tend to flock with other black bird species, meaning there will probably be an all out onslaught of activity at the feeder when they are around, thus preventing other birds from getting seeds. 

European Starling

European Starling

The first invasive species on our list; European Starlings are native to Europe and Asia but were released into the united states, eventually spreading across the country. To be fair, starlings are actually quite beautiful birds with many different colors shining from their feathers, but the problem is that where there is one, many are sure to follow as these flocking birds gather together in large groups. If starlings find a bird feeder, they often dominate the space, and prevent other more timid bird species from approaching. Additionally, European Starlings are cavity nesters, and will occupy bird houses and other suitable nesting sites, preventing native species from using them. In sum, European Starlings can have a negative impact on the biodiversity of a yard, but they aren’t nearly as destructive as other species on this list.

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Where there is an abundance of prey items, there are sure to be predators. One of the biggest natural threats to backyard birds are raptors such as Cooper’s Hawks. Other species that could occupy a spot on the list for a similar reason are Sharp-shinned Hawks and Merlins. Out of these birds, the Cooper’s Hawks gets the nod due to the fact that their range encompasses most of North America, and because they seem to often be found loitering around bird feeders. These large yet streamlined raptors feed mostly on medium sized birds such as Robins, Mourning Doves, and Woodpeckers, but have been known to catch smaller birds as well. Cooper’s Hawks are native to North America and are an important part of the ecosystem, but it’s understandable why feeder watches don’t want the birds they care for and become familiar with killed by anything, even another bird.  These predators are extremely good at what they do, landing them a spot at number three on the list, but keep in mind that their presence could actually be a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Although Brown-headed Cowbirds are native to North America and are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, most people dislike them because they are brood parasites. This means that rather than raising their own young, they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. The young often outcompete or kill the other nestlings and can sometimes be seen being fed by their different species parents. Cowbirds often flock with other blackbirds and can show up in very large numbers, not only preventing other species from getting food but most likely also parasatizing their nests. It’s also worth noting that the Brown-headed Cowbird is extremely wide spread in the United States, meaning that people in almost every state have most likely encountered them at some point. The fact that Brown-headed Cowbirds being in a yard means that other species have less of a chance to raise young makes them one of the most despised species by backyard bird lovers, and puts them at number two on our list. 

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

Coming in at number one is a species that anyone living in a city is probably familiar with: the House Sparrow. Some people enjoy having House Sparrows at their feeders, and they are pretty humorous to watch with their constant bickering. However, there are even more people who completely detest them. The reason for this is because much like the European Starling, House Sparrows are not originally native to North America and spread like wildfire across the country upon their release into the New World. Not only are they numerous, but they are also extremely territorial and aggressive, often outcompeting other species. In addition to their antics at bird feeders, House Sparrows have been known to kill cavity nesting birds such as Eastern Bluebirds, and anyone who has ever had to deal with them invading a bird house knows the horror that they can inflict on more passive species. If House Sparrows take up residence near a bird feeder, they are hard to get rid of and have posed major problems ever since they were first introduced to North America, earning them the title of the number one common backyard bird, that you don’t want visiting your bird feeder. 

Do you agree with our list? Are there species you would add or remove? Let us know in the comments below. Also, if you enjoyed this post, please like and subscribe as it helps our channel continue to grow. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next time, on Badgerland Birding.

One thought on “5 Common Backyard Birds you DON’T want at your bird feeder”

  1. We have had 2 cowbirds here (in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin) every year for the last 4 or 5 years. It makes me think they are not so terrible as they are made out to be. It is so fun to see every hawk that shows up. We have a big dog so maybe hawks are not that comfortable hanging out here. We also do have a pair of house sparrows that make me nervous. We have a house in the city of Minneapolis and a house out in the country in Maiden Rock Wisconsin. In Minneapolis, the sparrows take over every feeder and are so terrible. I will keep you posted. 🙂 Will also take any advice from you bird watchers.

    Like

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