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06/12/2012 at 10:34

Hi everyone - I was just wondering if anyone knew if it is normal for starlings not to have migrated yet.  I have a huge band that have congregated around my garden of about 50 or 60 - my garden is only 20ft x 30ft and the whole of the back hedges are now white with starling poo.  I put out mealworms and suet granules for the blackbirds and robins which is what is keeping them coming.  They are eating me out of house and home.  I felt sure that by now they would have migrated and I have seen groups of birds heading south over the last couple of weeks, but these starlings remain steadfastly on my hedges.  I'm starting to have the horrible thought that these starlings have already to my garden, and I will be stuck with them all Winter.  I am in South Lincolnshire.  Any thoughts please?  Thanks 

06/12/2012 at 10:51

Sorry Lunarz, they don't migrate. Some of the best flying displays are in the winter.

06/12/2012 at 11:00

They did migrate last year nutcutlet - I had lots of starlings last Summer, then no starlings all last winter and then they all returned in the Spring and dropped off their young, which are all now adults and which comprise the big group that I have now, plus I seem to have had several additions in the last few weeks.  All of the starlings in my garden are in their first winter - they have different coats to the adults.  I really hope that they do migrate again as I am in a situation where they are now eating all of the food that I put down for the other birds within 10 minutes of putting it out.  I am in Lincolnshire, so I did think that I am too far North for them to over-winter here - I know that they do winter along the South coast of the UK.  

06/12/2012 at 11:33

Some of the best winter starling displays are around Gretna in Scotland. Perhaps yours went to join them last year. 

We are talking about the same bird aren''t we? Noisy, lovely flight patterns, pretty colours in the feathers?.

They're resident birds, might move away from one garden but they haven't left the country. 

http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/s/starling/index.aspx 

06/12/2012 at 11:45

Yes, we are talking about the same birds - believe me, I know all too well what starlings sound like and look like - I have had to have my roof sealed this year because I had them roosting in my loft right above my head - not a sound that you want to hear at 5am when the sun comes up.  Then I had to seal up all of my bathroom vents because they got in there too.  I have had exactly the same pattern this year as last year so far - several adults arrive in the Spring, bringing lots of (brown) baby starlings, the adults fly off and the babies grow up around my garden. The babies coats gradually change to be like the adults, except that their heads remain brown.  They definitely all left my garden at the beginning of last winter which was a big relief to be honest, but now I am worried that I am going to have to put up with them all winter this year.  According to my (also RSPB) book, they do migrate from Northern Britain in the winter.  I simply can't afford to feed 60 starlings all winter and they are bullying all the other birds out of the garden, even the blackbirds. They are also covering the garden in droppings - and I mean absolutely covering.  It's as bad as having 50 or 60 pigeons in a small space.  I am sure that they are lovely birds from afar, and I know that their numbers are in decline, but in a small 20ft x 30ft garden, 60 starlings are a huge pest and actually quite distressing - even to a wildlife lover like me.

06/12/2012 at 12:01

I remember hoards of them eating everything we put out years ago but we haven't had them in such great numbers for ages. There's a popular roost down in our nearest village so I can sympathise with the droppings situation, It's dangerous to walk underneath. I don't know that there's much you can do to get rid of them without losing the rest of the birds. Perhaps if you withdrew the food for a while they'd move on. Then you could start feeding the rest again.

06/12/2012 at 12:49

Yes, sadly that's the conclusion I've come to - but I would feel very sad to stop feeding the blackbirds and robins.  I've seen a couple of flocks heading South so I'll keep my fingers crossed for a week or two and if not, I'll have to decide whether to withdraw the food.  Such a shame as I have done a great deal to encourage wildlife into my garden over the last couple of years 

06/12/2012 at 13:06

It is a shame. While it's sad to see any species diminishing, there'll be a lot of people  who were glad to see a reduction. The only thing I missed was those fantastic dusk flights.

06/12/2012 at 13:13

Hi Lunarz

 

Oh I do sympathise with you, I live in NE Scotland (Moray) and have had starlings throughout this year.  I too thought they migrated and was wondering the same, when are they going to beggar off, but to no avail thus far.  They too savage all the food I put out for the little birds, but I do find that they totally ignore seed and peanuts.  I too put out suet pellets and dried mealworms and it's these latter 2 that get savaged - oh and the fat balls.  Just this last week I've had a family of long tail tits in the garden which are a delight to see, but distressing for me also as they head for the fat balls, so I have to watch for the starlings so the poor little LTT's get a look in.  I also put out a fat cake in a cage, and every so often the whole thing 'just disappears'.  I too like you enjoy encouraging the wildlife into the garden, and love the array of birds I get, I know we must feed and support all kinds of birds, but do feel the same sometimes re:  the starlings.  Though luckily I don't get 60 odd, the most I've counted is about 23, all lining up on the electricity line over the garden.  Luckily I live in the countryside, so don't get quite so bombarded with the plop, though the dome feeders on the feeding station is smothered some days.

We can just cross our fingers and hope they do move south a little, as my jet propelling the window open and swearing through the gap on a regular basis must be quite comical to anyone that could hear me

06/12/2012 at 13:56

LOL - I'm so glad I'm not the only one who jet propels open the window and shouts at the bushes.  Accompanied, with the occasional running out into the garden clapping my hands like a mad woman   I feel pretty sorry for my neighbours as, at least there is a reason for me to have droppings all over my hedge - he gets them all over his side and he's not even interested in feeding wildlife.  I am waiting for the inevitable knock on the door about me continuing to feed these pests...  If things stay this cold, perhaps there is a chance that they will still migrate - I was so pleased to see them go last year - and was so sorry to see them back with all the babies this year... 

07/12/2012 at 01:21

Yes we do have some resident starlings, but the large flocks we have in the Winter are migrants from elsewhere. Scandinavia and Russia.

I dislike them.  I put down cheap porridge oats from the supermarket.  They will all fly away round about St Patricks Day.  

07/12/2012 at 06:38

Starlings love suet - if you stop putting out suet-based feed for a little while and put fruit and grains out for the other birds I think the starlings will head off and look elsewhere, but while you keep offering them their favourite meal why should they leave?   In your area they're likely to join a flock which will roost in reedbeds for warmth as the weather gets colder - in fact after yesterday it may be happening 

We'll be heading for Kesteven South for Christmas - family there are plagued by jackdaws - But it's the area where I see more Song thrushes than anywhere else 

07/12/2012 at 06:43

  Starlings don't migrate, but like other resident birds they do move about from one habitat to another at different times of year.  In your area they're likely to join a flock which will roost in reedbeds for warmth as the weather gets colder - in fact after yesterday it may be happening, but starlings love suet so while you keep offering them their favourite meal why should they leave? - if you stop putting out suet-based feed for a little while and put fruit and grains out for the other birds I think the starlings will head off and look elsewhere,

We'll be heading for Kesteven South for Christmas - family there are plagued by jackdaws - But it's the area where I see more Song thrushes than anywhere else 

07/12/2012 at 12:36

I sympathise with those of you who have hoards of starlings to contend with, we love to have the small flock that visit our garden. Their antics are very amusing and yes they do eat a lot but we have had very few other birds in this winter (except for the pigeons)  which is most unusual. One of our starlings has taken to landing on the back of a pigeon when he is feeding from the suet block. The pigeon takes no notice!!

Lyn
07/12/2012 at 12:55

I have just read 2 articles on web that say they do migrate.

They arrive in our area in october and then congregate by the millions to go in the spring.

07/12/2012 at 14:45
Well yes some migrate to the UK for our milder winters and then leave to travel to north and east Europe to breed, what I should have explained is that the ones that breed here do not leave but do move about within the UK, generally speaking. They do not fly south for the winter.
07/12/2012 at 17:22

Thanks everyone.  It sounds like I was just lucky that they all sodded off last winter then   Today I counted 70 starlings in the garden.  It has got to stop and as Dove says, I have got to keep putting the suet out, as it is insanity to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome.  So.... before I stop feeding the poor old blackbirds too, anyone know of a food that blackbirds like and which starlings hate?  I think that the robins and dunnocks will eat the sunflower seed from the feeders so they should be OK and the tits can eat out of the suet ball feeders which I have already 'de-starling-ised' earlier this year.  Any ideas gratefully received....

07/12/2012 at 20:18

Hi Lunarz - I rarely see the starlings eating the apples or pears I put out.  I'm sure they would if they were starving, but the blackbirds usually get fruit all to themselves.  Good luck!
Caz

08/12/2012 at 06:28

I find that blackbirds are much happier with fruit and oats on the ground.  I get damaged apples from the farm shop and chop them up, I also buy raisins and sultanas when they're on BOGOF or similar, and then either porridge oats or an oat-based ground feed - we had over two dozen blackbirds in our garden at one time on a snowy day last winter 

 Why not spread some suet elsewhere nearby for a few days (a wide roadside verge or some agricultural land or common land etc) and get the starlings used to looking elsewhere?  Just an idea 

08/12/2012 at 10:07

Good idea Dove - I'll sneak into the field under the tree that they sit on and put down some suet - yet another mad behaviour these starlings have brought out in me!  The neighbours must think that I am mad....

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