How to Get Rid of Starlings
The starling: you may think he’s a handsome individual, with his iridescent blue-black plumage and his bold eye—that is, until you look up and see 3000 of his friends flocking in to roost all around you. In their huge numbers, starlings do a tremendous amount of damage.
The simplest and kindest approach to getting rid of starlings is simply to make your location less attractive than others. Try covering all possible food sources such as feed piles or dumps or grain storage. If starlings are displacing valued birds like purple martins or bluebirds in your area, you can modify your birdhouses to feature crescent-shaped entries, which starlings avoid, rather than the round holes they favor. If your house or outbuildings provided nesting places, fill or cover crevices, rafters, and other nest-attracting crannies with fine mesh wire to keep the birds off.
The next level of engagement in your quest to get rid of starlings will involve actively scaring them off. Some people report success with a simple inflatable plastic balloon in the shape of a great horned owl. There are also sonic repellents that emit sounds mimicking predator or distress calls. Laser repellents will shoot light beams into roosting spots, confusing and alarming the birds. The old-fashioned burst of firecrackers can disturb a mass roosting, but is probably not practical for continuous application. For a quieter deterrent, consider a cat—though if your concern is for other native bird species, this method has its drawbacks.
Trapping and/or Killing Starlings
A really huge starling problem necessitates drastic measures. On an individual level, the old-guard solution of a shotgun burst into a roosting tree may still feel satisfying, but it’s generally illegal within city limits. City agencies, airfields, and agricultural concerns will sometimes undertake large-scale trapping programs to get rid of starlings. Large numbers of birds will be gassed after trapping with nets or other means. In recent years these activities have also netted a large number of complaints about the unethical treatment of starlings, so sometimes they are relocated instead of being killed. This is not a practical plan for the individual, but if your starling problem is severe, it’s worth talking to local authorities to find out if they are willing to take action.
Your approach to getting rid of starlings will depend on their nuisance level and your own feelings about ethical treatment. It’s not impossible, but it may be a long and difficult project.