How to Keep Starlings From Getting Dog Foodby Lori Lapierre
With few natural predators and no easy way to control their population, starlings have become bird bullies.
Introduced to the United States in 1891, European starlings quickly become the bane of the bird world. Loud, obnoxious and greedy, they are despised for swooping into yards and cleaning out bird feeders in minutes. Your dog's food dish is no less safe; prepare to declare war to protect it.
Move your dog's food inside a small shed or outbuilding to prevent easy access to the birds. If they can't see it and aren't sure what is inside the shed, starlings will look elsewhere for food.
Hang bird netting across a doorway opening to prevent birds from flying into larger buildings to roost, nest and seek out your dog's chow. You or the dog can move the netting aside to enter or exit, but the birds won't bother if the netting's secure all the way around. Hanging a small weight from the bottom corners will keep the netting in place against wind or drafts.
Prop a small to medium-size mirror behind the dog's bowl. Starlings do not care for their own reflection -- perhaps considering it another scary-looking bird. A look in the mirror might be enough to deter those that approach your dog's dish.
Play loud music when starlings enter the yard in large groups. Turning on a radio at full volume will startle these birds. Sit outside and continue turning on the radio when the birds attempt to come back. Do this consistently for a few days, and the birds may figure out it's safer -- and quieter -- to look elsewhere for sustenance.
Make your yard inhospitable to starling nesters considering laying down stakes there. Destroy nests immediately, before eggs are laid, to discourage the return of the starlings and rebuilding.
Place bird deterrents around the yard and near the dog food -- such as aluminum foil strips hanging from a tree, or rubber owls and snakes placed near the dog food. While birds are smart and can figure out these are not real threats, moving them around often will help to confuse them. Commercial products exist -- such as a balloon that chases birds or appears to have large eyeballs -- to help scare off your unwanted guests.
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- John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images
- Bird netting
- Aluminum foil strips
- Rubber owl
- Rubber snake
- The key is to make your yard unwelcoming to starlings before they show up. If they find it unwelcoming, the dog food should remain safe.