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> Birding Center > Wild Bird Information > Selective Bird Feeding

Selective Feeding of Birds

Are larger, more aggressive birds taking over your songbird feeders?  Many backyard birders want to know what they can do to prevent grackles, European starlings, mourning doves, crows, blackbirds and cowbirds from dominating their feeders.  These birds badger and bully the smaller birds and don't allow them to feed.  Don't give up because there are several things you can do to deter the aggressive birds and selectively feed your favorite songbirds.

1)  Outfit your feeders to accommodate only smaller birds by encircling your feeder with a large-mesh hardware cloth or chicken wire.  The wire should have an opening large enough to allow smaller birds to pass through while keeping larger birds away.  Be sure the feeder is several inches inside the cage so the larger birds can not reach inside with their long bills.

You can buy caged-in feeders at your local birding supply store or right here.   Click on the picture at right to view our selection.

2)  European starlings love suet but are wary of any kind of cover.  Put your suet feeder under a domed squirrel baffle and the starlings will stay clear.

Click here to view all caged feeders

3)  Aggressive birds are often attracted to the seeds that drop from your bird feeder.  Simply place a deep container below the feeder to collect the seeds.  The larger birds will not fly into the container and soon will quit coming to your feeder.

4)  In general, the larger, more aggressive birds prefer bread, corn, millet, wheat and sunflower seeds.   So never put out table scraps or bread crumbs as this will only attract a larger number of aggressive birds.  Instead use seeds that these birds will not eat.  Offer thistle (niger) in a hanging feeder for the finches and safflower seeds in a hopper or tray feeder for chickadees, cardinals and nuthatches. 

If you follow these guidelines the large, aggressive birds are likely to go elsewhere to feed.