Blackbirds and Their Control

Blackbirds include the

  • red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
  • yellow-headed blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
  • common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)
  • brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater)
  • brewer's blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)
  • rusty blackbird (Euphagus carolinus)

Blackbird Identification

Grackles are blackbirds with iridescent plumage. They may place whitish sacs of droppings evenly spaced on hard surfaces, such as driveways and near water areas.



Ripening corn, sorghum, sunflowers: Eat sprouting corn and rice and ripening corn, sorghum, sunflower, oats, and fruits; flocks with starlings foul feed and water of confined livestock. Grackles take nestling's droppings from nest and wipe them on hard surfaces, usually near water (bird baths, garden pool areas, trampolines, driveways, vehicles)

Blackbird flock feasting on sunflowers Blackbird flock feasting on sunflowers.






Control Methods

Habitat Modification

 Harvest early, grow non-preferred crops near roost, provide alternate feeding sites, avoid early or late planting, use resistant hybrids.

Mylar scare eyes used to frighten birds. Photo by Dallas VirchowBird repellent-scare eyes Description: shows mylar reflective tape and scare eyes in a tree Photo Credits: Dallas Virchow







Propane cannnons. Photo by Univ. of FloridaPropane-powered exploders Description: These can be used for bird or mammal scare devices. Some models fully automated. Photo Credits: from U of Florida website

Other control techniques include, Avitrol (4-aminopyridine) as frighteners; shooting; Starlicide® toxicant; decoy cage traps; early intervention

Tactile: soft, sticky polybutenes, such as Tanglefoot, Roost-No-More, or Hot Foot may be useful at interior roost sites.

 Avitrol , a chemical frightening agent, on grain or pellet baits with prebaiting may be useful. This is a restricted use pesticide. H Habitat Change Sprouting corn: deep planting Rice: avoid early planting

Lethal Method Feedlots:

  • Starlicide Complete (3-chloro-p-toluidine hydrochoride)
  • Starlicide Technical (Professional Use Only) used with a pre bait.
  •  Shooting (if legal) as reinforcement of pyrotechnics and scare devices.

Trap Fruit Crops and Feedlots: Large Cage traps, such as a modified Australian crow trap, with live decoy birds will capture blackbirds.

University Publications

Blackbirds in Roosts--Univ. of Missouri

Blackbirds in the Vegetable Garden--Rutgers University

General Bird Control Publications


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