Keeping grackles away from your property can be a challenge. Grackles are bird bullies and they often gather around bird feeders, leaving the other birds starving. Here are the most effective tips on how to get rid of grackles fast!
1. Install grackle proof bird feeders
If you’ve been noticing an increasing number of grackles at bird feeders in your garden or orchard, it’s pretty clear that they have the ability to bully birds and steal their food.
That means that the feeders you’re using aren’t specifically designed to deter their attempts at gorging themselves on the seed.
When it comes to how to keep grackles away from bird feeder spots, there are several simple designs that you can rely on. You will have to either make some modifications to the bird feeders that you have already installed.
For example, adding a cage around them so that only the smaller birds have the ability to eat, or you can buy a commercial one right off the bat.
One design that’s been found to be effective to keep grackles away from your bird feeders is the so-called weight-activated feeder, which basically determines when a too heavy animal is trying to get to the seed.
Whenever that happens, such a model will automatically close the feeding ports, making it impossible for any black grackle to feed.
Using an upside-down suet feeder is another method that you can rely on, simply because grackles don’t really love hanging with their bodies upside down when they eat. This type of design is best to use if you have chickadees, nuthatches, or titmice coming to your garden.
2. Install a bird deterrent flying kite
Whenever spring comes along, it’s time to put your best efforts into controlling the grackle population you have on your property.
That’s because if you don’t, they will nest, lay grackle eggs, and sooner rather than later, you’ll have a number of baby grackles in your garden, yard, or orchard.
Hanging visual deterrents in trees is one way to stop grackle migration and ensure that they don’t make a home on your property. But using a bird deterrent flying kite can be another method.
You can simply tie it to the side of your house, or one of your trees and the kite will do its job by basically telling the grackles that there’s a hawk just waiting to eat them for lunch.
No matter the model that you will end up choosing, most come with telescopic poles with an adjustable length, so they can deter several different bird species.
In general, when picking such a product, it’s a good idea to opt for good reflective visual effects and durable materials, especially since the kite might always become the victim of strong winds if it’s poorly made.
As another plus of using this method, there’s nothing stopping you from using the kite for what it is, a source of endless fun for children.
3. Use grackle distress calls
One of the smartest ways to scare away grackles is to use an electronic repellent, which can act as a grackle deterrent by emitting two types of sound.
One of them is the sound that a crackle predator makes, such as the sound that hawks in flight make, and the other would be a standard grackle distress call.
Sometimes, these two can be combined and they offer the best results in keeping grackles away. No bird wants to roost or nest in an area where they feel threatened, and the best thing about this solution is that it’s non-toxic and safe for everyone.
It does come with a drawback, though, and it consists of the fact that the sound might deter other bird species, too.
That is why using the specific grackle call might be a better idea rather than resorting to using the predator call. After all, hawks can scare a variety of birds away, not just grackles.
Most of the devices that we have come across in this category are pretty effective and they can be used either with batteries or with a standard 110V power source. Best of all, they work around the clock, but they can be turned off during the night if you want that.
4. Install bird spikes on roosting areas
If you want to get rid of grackles in trees or stop grackles from roosting on your roof or ledges, you should consider installing bird spikes. This bird species is a little different than others in that it weighs more and it will find it uncomfortable to roost in narrow places.
When it comes to the typical grackle behavior, you should know that they tend to gather in very large flocks, especially composed of males.
Not just regular homeowners have a problem with them and are always looking to get rid of a grackle population, but also local authorities. When there are many birds gathered in one spot, they tend to make a mess out of that portion of the street.
Sometimes, their feces can be health hazards for people or, more importantly, for kids, especially toddlers.
Installing bird spikes on your rooftops, garage door, porch, windows, or any other place where you’ve seen grackles socializing can deter them from doing just that.
Plus, most bird spikes out there are made of stainless steel and tend to last for decades, if not a lifetime. So, once you have set them up, you aren’t going to have to worry about handling your grackle problem any longer, at least not next to your home.
5. Shorten or remove feeder perches
If you have already purchased a number of bird feeders and you find yourself forced to do your best to turn them into grackle proof bird feeders, one convenient way of doing that would be to remove or shorten their perches.
Small birds such as chickadees have the ability to feed no matter if they have a perch to sit on as they munch on the seeds or not.
They will often use their little legs and nails to keep their bodies right on the feeder, but the same can’t be said for grackles as they are far bigger to be able to perform the same task.
Since they require more sizable landing places to be able to get to the seed, grackles aren’t going to be able to do much else than abandon their efforts if they have no perch to sit on.
Most commercial bird feeders that are currently available for sale come with removable perches, but even with those that do not, you will be able to remove them by gently tapping them with a hammer.
Moreover, some feeders are equipped with domes that usually act as baffles against squirrels, but they can be lowered so as to exclude seed access for larger birds such as grackles.
6. Remove easily accessible food sources
One of the first steps that you should ensure if you want to conveniently and effectively get rid of grackles is to remove any potential food that they might munch on.
Common grackles are ground birds, which means that they will only gather at bird feeders if they have to.
They can eat a variety of things from small invertebrates to other birds’ eggs, and they’ll also consume sunflower seeds, whether hulled or black-oil sunflower.
They can also eat a variety of fruit and even fish if they have to, so they’re very versatile in this sense. That is why removing any food sources that grackles could use is so difficult.
If you don’t take the time to clean your garden or yard on a regular basis and you don’t want to give up feeding the rest of the birds, at least for a while, there’s virtually no chance of you being able to keep grackles away from your property.
Another tip on how to keep grackles away would be for you to remove and secure your trash as these birds have been found to open up plastic bags if they have to.
They’ll even eat your pet’s food if they don’t have anything else available, and since most commercial pet food nowadays contains a lot of grain, it’s not even going to hurt them.
7. Implement a motion activated sprinkler
If a grackle proof bird feeder doesn’t seem to be enough to keep this pesky bird species away from your garden or yard, you might want to try a different, also eco-friendly solution.
Granted, some birds might not be scared by water as easily as others, but ground ones can be deterred by it, especially when used properly.
The point is that a motion-activated sprinkler works with pigeons, grackles, and other ground birds and it doesn’t necessarily have any effect on smaller ones that like to live in your trees.
Another advantage of using this method is that you’ll be able to water your grass without putting in too much effort, either.
The sprinkler comes with a motion sensor that detects movement whenever a critter gets to be in its coverage area. It will automatically start working then and there, and so it will repel the animal, whether it’s a raccoon, a rat, or a grackle.
Since some of the models that we have come across have different coverage areas, we suggest installing several across your property so that the grackles find no place to rest and not become wet.
This solution is particularly effective at the beginning of their migration period in early spring when the weather is also colder than during the summer months.
8. Apply grackle repellent gel
Another way to get rid of common grackle birds, especially if you have an orchard, would be to use grackle-repellent gel.
The truth is that this type of product isn’t that specific, so it isn’t uniquely made for grackle control and it might inadvertently repel other bird species, too.
However, it has been found to be effective in deterring a variety of pesky birds from pigeons and blackbirds to starlings and grackles.
Ideally, you should use this type of grackle bird repellent on the roosting areas in your trees, on your roof, peaks, cornice, sills, or ledges.
Pretty much any place where you have noticed grackles gathering around is an ideal spot for applying this gel.
To get rid of grackles in the yard, orchard, or garden, you will have to apply the gel using a putty knife or a caulking gun.
The most significant benefit ensured by the product is that it is weather-resistant and it’s going to act for a minimum of two weeks.
For the best results, you should make sure that the surface you want to use it on is dust and debris-free and it doesn’t have any droppings or anything else that might prevent the gel from getting stuck on it.
9. Install a scarecrow grackle predator
As we might have mentioned, grackle birds tend to avoid nesting and roosting in areas where they know that there are grackle predators that could attack them.
Using a sound repellent is a great idea as it can tell a grackle bird that it’s time to move to another place if it doesn’t want to lose its life.
But these days, since these birds don’t tend to react to traditional scarecrows, which resemble humans, you can get a little creative to keep grackles away from bird feeders.
There are some decoys that resemble hawks and owls, two of the most common predators that attack grackles and other birds.
While getting a simple decoy might not be enough, if it also emits predator calls and it even rotates.
Therefore, it mimics the natural way in which the predator moves, it can be extremely effective. Some fake owls or hawks even come with glowing eyes, which further adds to their realism.
To make sure that it gets the job done, you should install the decoy in a place that you’ve noticed is a favorite of the grackles on your property.
This could mean in your vegetable garden, in your patio, on an open porch, or on your deck.
10. Remove roosting areas
Out of all of the tips that we have included in this post, removing roosting areas might be possible only for a limited number of homeowners.
To repel a flock of grackles, you will have to remove any surface that could be used for roosting, and that can be challenging, if not impossible (if you have trees you’ve planted in your yard).
If you don’t want to pull them out or the shrubs you have in your garden and concrete it all, you can at least prune your trees so that they have less branch density.
As a general rule, both starlings and grackles hate hanging out in open spaces, especially if they aren’t part of a large flock.
It makes them feel vulnerable, and in a way, it’s a good guess since hawks and other potential predators can see them a lot better if the tree they’re roosting in doesn’t have too many branches.
By comparison, smaller bird species will still feel at ease in a heavily pruned tree, and that’s mainly because most predators don’t tend to aim at hunting small prey.
Since you obviously can’t remove the sides of your roof, for example, try to install bird spikes in there so that you make the task of roosting as uncomfortable for the grackles as possible.
11. Try an ultrasonic bird repellent
Grackles flock with blackbirds and starlings, so that’s why they tend to form an enormous flock.
Therefore, it is not uncommon for you to see a whole population of grackle swarm on your property, especially during their times of common grackle migration.
There is another method of deterring them, especially from trees and a variety of other areas.
Some sound repellents can combine the specific frequency that is audible to this bird species and that will put it off with reflective eye diverters or the sounds of predators.
Most repellents come with just the ultrasonic ability, though.
What is important to note is that some birds have different audible frequencies compared to others.
Luckily for you, most of the bigger ones, such as pigeons, blackbirds, and grackles, usually hear the same frequencies, so using an ultrasonic bird repellent, so long as it is customized properly, will not deter other smaller birds.
Furthermore, the vast majority of the devices in this category are very easy to use, especially since they tend to rely on solar panels to do their job properly.
Depending on the customization that you will make, most ultrasonic repellents can deter other animals, too, such as raccoons, rats, rabbits, squirrels, and even cats, if they have to.
12. Scare grackles with reflection
Another kind of grackle repellent that you might be interested in trying out is bird tape or a different type of reflection-based bird deterrent. Some of the models that we have come across are a little better than others.
For instance, due to their design, some reflection deterrents resemble antennas that will use sunlight and wind to deter grackles from roosting or nesting on your property.
There are also reflective scare rods available, which you can conveniently install in your garden. They’ll use several different angles of reflection points to scare and confuse birds such as grackles and woodpeckers.
The bird tape is another option that you can rely on, but the truth is that it tends to be less effective in this case.
Grackles don’t like hanging out in trees that much, like starlings do and when it comes to feeding, they’ll always prefer the ground rather than to have to go up in a tree.
They will resort to this if they find no other food source available and they have to eat fruit, for example.
So, at least in this situation, you will be able to use bird repellent tape, which scares them off both with reflection, but also with the metallic sound it makes when it’s stepped on.
13. Apply liquid bird repellent
Another way to get rid of grackles at feeders and pretty much anywhere you might have noticed them gathering would be to use liquid bird repellent. But how is it different from gel?
Well, this type of product stimulates the birds’ trigeminal systems to such an extent that they aren’t going to want to return to your property anytime soon.
Most repellents in this category contain methyl-anthranilate, which is smelly and bitter, and that’s how it manages to keep grackles away.
Some of the pests that such a repellent works for are geese, pigeons, crows, ducks, blackbirds, seagulls, grackles, sparrows, cormorants, and a variety of other birds, too.
It even works on woodpeckers and shags, which can’t be said for other methods to get rid of grackle birds that we have mentioned in this article.
For the best results, you should apply the liquid on areas where fruits and other foodstuffs tend to fall and attract grackles.
But since these pest birds like to sit on the sides of houses and even your rooftop, you could use the solution in these places, too.
More importantly, this is a humane way of removing grackles from your property, so while it will disgust them, it’s not going to cause them harm.
14. Stop feeding birds for some period
As much as you might love birds, you should consider completely stopping feeding them for a while.
The chances are that they’re going to make do with whatever they have available in their living environment and survive until you add seed to their bird feeders again.
Since grackles are known to bully birds to the point that they decimate their populations, removing any potential grackle food will guarantee that you get rid of grackles at the bird feeder and across your property.
The other option you have available is to use a grackle proof suet feeder, but there’s a good chance that grackles aren’t going to stop coming there and abusing other small birds, so you don’t want to lure the latter to their deaths.
If these pesky birds don’t have anything to ensure their grackle diet, they will stop coming over in just a couple of weeks’ time, especially if they aren’t native to the area you are living in.
It’s universally acknowledged that birds tend to have food available in the summer, so there’s no need for you to use bird feeders during that time. Take them out in the yard in late spring, when food starts to become scarce.
15. Call a professional
If everything else fails and you don’t want to resort to a number of unorthodox methods such as killing grackles or shooting grackles, or even using a grackle trap (since you have to get rid of the bird later on), there’s always the option of you calling a professional.
Using professional services is often a better idea than you having to spend your hard-earned cash on a number of repellents that might or might not work or putting a lot of effort into handling your grackle control tasks.
Someone who knows what they are doing is usually better equipped to get rid of anything from the presence of droppings on your property to the grackle noise you might hear due to their nesting or roosting.
You can even ask them to use safe methods that aren’t going to endanger the health of the birds, although most pest control services are legally authorized to make use of a variety of substances that can act as deterrents, be they chemical or not.
Plus, a professional can also give you a number of tips on handling this problem in the future, if you’re unlucky enough to have a grackle control issue all over again next year.