A Black-capped Chickadee eating from a bird feeder.

How To Keep Big Birds Away From Feeders? 6 Simple Steps!

Tired of big birds hogging all the birdseed and causing chaos at your feeders? Say goodbye to their feathered antics with our handy guide on “How To Keep Big Birds Away From Feeders?”

We’ve got the quick fix and a magical bag of tricks to rescue your wayward feeders from their rebellious tendencies. Let’s dive in!

Why it’s important to keep big birds away from your feeders?

It’s essential to keep big birds away from your bird feeders if you want to keep your feathered friends healthy and thriving. 

Big birds such as crows, ravens, and jays can be quite aggressive and can scare away smaller birds, as well as cause a lot of mess and waste. 

Not only that, but the big birds can also spread disease to the other birds that visit your feeders. So, it’s important to take the necessary steps to keep the big birds away. 

A Northern Cardinal feeding at a large bird feeder.
Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

What Kind of Big Birds Are We Talking About? 

When it comes to keeping big birds away from your bird feeders, it’s important to know what kind of birds we’re talking about. 

While some birds may be considered big, they’re not all an issue when it comes to your feeders. 

Common examples of big birds that can be detrimental to your feeders include crows, ravens, vultures, hawks, and owls. 

These birds are much larger than the smaller birds you may be trying to attract to your feeders. 

They often consume large amounts of birdseed, leaving little for the smaller birds. 

They can also become aggressive and may even attack other birds or small animals in the area. 

It’s important to keep these birds away from your feeders to ensure that your smaller birds are safe and can enjoy their meals.

The Benefits of Keeping Big Birds Away

Keeping big birds away from your feeders offers several important benefits. For one, it helps to reduce the amount of waste associated with the feeders. 

Big birds tend to eat more than smaller ones, so if you’re not careful, you could end up with a lot of wasted seed. 

Additionally, having fewer big birds around means that there will be fewer messes to clean up from your feeders. 

And lastly, it’s important to keep big birds away from your feeders in order to ensure the health and safety of the smaller birds that you are hoping to attract. 

By removing the competition for food, you can ensure that your smaller birds get the nutrition they need.

Two sparrows angry at a hairy woodpecker at a bird feeder.
Image by Gregory Sabin from Pixabay

How To Keep Big Birds Away From Feeders?

In this section, we delve into the fascinating world of keeping big birds away from your feeders. Explore practical tips, clever techniques, and bird-friendly solutions to ensure your smaller feathered friends have a safe dining experience.

Step 1: Change Your Feeder Placement

Step one in keeping big birds away from your bird feeders is to change the placement of your feeders. 

It’s important to move your feeders away from trees and tall structures, as big birds tend to perch in these areas and swoop in to snatch food from your feeders. 

If your feeders are too close to these structures, the big birds can easily access the food and scare away the smaller birds. 

Moving your feeders away from these areas makes it harder for the big birds to get to the food, giving the smaller birds a chance to eat in peace.

Step 2: Choose the Right Feeder

When it comes to selecting the right bird feeder, size is key. Big birds, such as crows, hawks, and vultures, can be overly aggressive and can easily take over a feeder that is too small. 

Look for feeders that are large enough to accommodate the smaller birds, but too small for the larger varieties. 

Additionally, look for feeders that have smaller perches that are too small for a big bird to fit on. 

This will help to ensure that only the smaller birds can access the food. 

Finally, choose a feeder material that is durable enough to withstand the elements, as well as any attempts by big birds to get at the seed.

Step 3: Stock the Right Foods

When it comes to keeping big birds away from your feeders, one of the most important steps is stocking the right birdseed. 

Not all birds like the same types of food, so it’s important to choose birdseed that is tailored to the types of birds you want to attract and discourage the birds you don’t. 

For instance, if you want to attract smaller songbirds, you should avoid using sunflower seeds, as larger birds like crows and jays prefer them. 

Instead, opt for a variety of seeds that are smaller, such as millet, Niger seed, and thistle. 

These types of seeds are too small for big birds to eat, so they won’t be as attracted to your feeders. 

Additionally, it’s important to switch up the type of seed you’re offering throughout the year to keep your smaller birds coming back.

Step 4: Use a Baffle

Step 4 in keeping big birds away from your feeders is to use a baffle. A baffle is a dome-shaped cover that is placed around the feeder to make it more difficult for big birds to access the food. 

Baffles are made from different materials, including plastic, metal, and wood, and can be hung from the top of the feeder or attached to the pole that holds the feeder. 

By blocking the direct access to the food, a baffle can help keep big birds from reaching the birdseed and deter them from returning. 

Additionally, when combined with other methods, such as moving the feeders away from trees and tall structures, using the right feeders, and stocking the right foods, a baffle can help create an effective barrier that will keep big birds away from your feeders.

Step 5: Install a Scarecrow

The fifth step you can take to keep big birds away from your feeders is to install a scarecrow. 

Scarecrows are a great way to deter large birds from getting too comfortable around your bird feeders. 

Not only are they a fun and decorative addition to your yard, but they also serve as a reminder to the birds that they’re not welcome. 

When placed near your feeders, scarecrows can create the illusion of human presence and can be quite effective in keeping large birds away. 

They should be placed in an open area that’s easy to see and move if necessary. 

Just make sure to give your scarecrow regular maintenance to make sure it stays in good condition and is still a deterrent for larger birds.

Step 6: Keep Feeders Clean

Step 6 of keeping big birds away from your feeders is to keep them clean. Keeping your feeders clean is an important part of keeping your smaller birds healthy and safe. 

By regularly cleaning your feeders, you can help prevent the spread of bacteria and disease. 

Not only that, cleaning your feeders will help keep away pests and keep your feeders in good condition. 

Make sure to clean out your feeders every few weeks and replace the birdseed as needed. 

This will help keep your feeders looking and functioning their best, while also keeping your smaller birds free from illness.

birds at feeder
Photo by Gary Meulemans on Unsplash


In conclusion, it’s crucial to keep big birds away from your feeders in order to maintain a healthy and balanced environment for the birds that are visiting your yard. 

With the right placement, feeders, food, and scare tactics, you can keep large birds such as jays, crows, and grackles away from your feeders. 

To achieve this, we recommend following these 6 simple steps: change the placement of your feeders, choose the right feeder, stock the right foods, use a baffle, install a scarecrow, and keep feeders clean. 

By following these steps, you can help ensure that your smaller bird species have a safe and healthy environment to feed in.

A couple of small birds at a bird feeder.
Photo by Lidia Stawinska on Unsplash

FAQs: How To Keep Big Birds Away From Feeders?

Can I use scarecrows to keep big birds away from my feeders?

Yes, scarecrows can be effective in deterring big birds. Their presence creates the illusion of human presence, making the birds feel unwelcome. Place them strategically near your feeders to keep the big birds at a distance.

What type of bird feeders are best for keeping big birds away?

Opt for feeders with smaller perches that big birds can’t comfortably land on. Look for designs that make it difficult for them to access the food, ensuring only smaller birds can enjoy the feast.

Do big birds pose any health risks to smaller birds at the feeders?

Yes, big birds can spread diseases to smaller birds. By keeping the big birds away, you reduce the risk of infections and create a healthier environment for the smaller, more delicate species.

Will changing the placement of my feeders help deter big birds?

Absolutely! Moving the feeders away from trees and tall structures where big birds often perch will make it harder for them to access the food. This creates a safer space for smaller birds to feed without intimidation.

Should I use specific types of birdseed to discourage big birds?

Indeed! Avoid using sunflower seeds, as larger birds like crows and jays prefer them. Opt for smaller seeds like millet, Niger seed, and thistle, which big birds find less appealing. Switching up the seed types throughout the year can also help.

Can big birds cause a lot of mess and waste around the feeders?

Yes, big birds tend to consume more birdseed and create more mess compared to smaller birds. Keeping them away from the feeders will help reduce waste and the need for frequent clean-ups.

Is it advisable to use baffles to keep big birds away?

Absolutely! Baffles are dome-shaped covers that make it harder for big birds to access the food. By blocking their direct access and combining them with other methods, like feeder placement, baffles can be an effective deterrent.

Can I use bird feeders made of certain materials to discourage big birds?

Choose feeders made of durable materials like metal or strong plastic. Big birds may attempt to damage or break through flimsy feeders, so sturdier options will help keep them at bay.

Are there any alternative methods to deter big birds from feeders?

Yes! Adding noise-making devices near the feeders, like wind chimes or bells, can startle big birds and discourage them from approaching. However, be mindful of not scaring away smaller birds as well.

Should I regularly clean my feeders to deter big birds?

While cleaning feeders primarily ensures the health of smaller birds, it indirectly helps keep big birds away too. Regular cleaning reduces the chances of attracting pests and keeps the feeders in good condition, making them less appealing to big birds.


  • Vince S

    Meet Vince, the passionate founder and author of Learn Bird Watching, boasting 30 years of birding experience. With an unwavering mission to empower fellow bird enthusiasts, Vince shares invaluable wisdom and guidance. As a dedicated moderator and contributor to Quora's Bird Watchers' Club, he actively engages with the birding community, where his insightful answers have garnered over 440,000 views and over 2,670 upvotes. Whether you're a budding birder or a seasoned avian aficionado, his wealth of knowledge is at your service.

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