Fewer Mixed Blackbird Flocks at My Feeders 2020

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Common Grackles are Often Part of Mixed Flocks
Common Grackles are Often Part of Mixed Flocks

Large mixed “blackbird” flocks are the bane of backyard birdwatchers in late winter and early spring. Appearing in mass, groups of Common Grackles, European Starlings, Brown-Headed Cowbirds and Red-Winged Blackbirds can take over feeders and push other birds out. But this year, for many reasons, the blackbird flocks are not as much of a problem in my yard. Some of this is because of things I’ve done to set up my feeders and some is beyond my control.

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When Grackles Don’t Leave

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Common Grackle at Squirrel Buster Plus (Perches Removed)
Common Grackle Hovers at Bird Feeder

This year, the spring grackles didn’t leave. Every year, we get flocks of nuisance “blackbirds”, including Common Grackles, in late winter and early spring. In my area, some of these grackles are year-round residents but more northern-based grackles do also migrate through the area, increasing their numbers. They usually only cause problems for a few weeks. This year was different.

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Nuisance Birds Use Baffles to Get Suet

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Grackle on baffled Shepherd's hook feeder pole where suet is hung
Clever Grackle Uses Baffle to Get to Suet Feeder

Common Grackles and European Starlings can be a nuisance on suet feeders, especially in late winter and spring. Since I’ve switched to using upside-down suet feeders, they usually don’t cause too much of a problem. But sometimes grackles can still get a little crazy. They can’t hang from feeders for long, but if there is a little flock of them, they can take turns. Lots of little bits of time dangling on a feeder can add up and they are aggressive toward other birds. But I have a trick to keep nuisance birds off suet on poles!

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