Setting out a bird feeder is an easy way to get a close-up look at wildlife, and watching the antics of small songbirds can provide hours of entertainment. Unfortunately, bird feeders can also attract unwanted birds that wear out their welcome very quickly. Nuisance birds such as starlings and pigeons not only prevent songbirds from enjoying the feeders, they make a big mess while they eat an excessive amount of expensive birdseed. There are, fortunately, several ways to deter the nuisance birds while still attracting songbirds and other welcome feathered friends.
Install a bird feeder protected by a wire cage. These feeders are designed to allow small birds in, while blocking out nuisance birds, which are generally larger. You can either purchase feeders with this protection pre-installed, or you can surround your existing feeders with chicken wire.
Buy a feeder with a weighted perch that closes when large birds land on it. Smaller birds will have no problem because the mechanism is set to withstand their lighter weight.
Purchase a suet feeder constructed so that birds are required to hang upside down to eat. Most larger birds, especially starlings, have a very difficult time with this design.
Provide a tube-type feeder with no perches. Many larger birds won't be able to use them because they require a place to land in order to eat. An added benefit is that tube feeders spill less food on the ground. Try filling the tube feeder with niger thistle, which attracts finches and other small birds. Avoid purchasing birdseed mixes containing milo. Songbirds won't eat it, but blackbirds love it.
Sweep up spilled seed and keep the area under the feeder clean. Spilled seed attracts large nuisance birds, especially pigeons. You can also use unshelled sunflower seeds--they create less of a mess, and most songbirds love them.
Put down bird spikes if nuisance birds are perching on window or balcony ledges. The spikes, which come in long strips, don't hurt the birds, but they do make it difficult for them to land. Install metal or plastic netting underneath overhangs and rafters.
Keep pet and livestock food covered whenever possible, and clean up any spilled or discarded feed or grain. Use covered feeders that have a flip top for convenience.