European Starlings

Facts, Identification and Control

Latin Name

Sturnus vulgaris

Appearance

Starlings are pudgy birds about the size of robins. They vary in color from one season to the next, displaying purple-green feathers with white markings and a yellow bill in warm weather and darker feathers tipped in light brown with a blue-black bill in cold weather.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Livestock owners find starlings especially bothersome because they eat large quantities of feed and contaminate even more with their droppings. The birds travel in flocks of several thousand in the winter. They can eat more than a ton of feed while spoiling two or three times that amount with their whitewash. Though plump, individual birds can squeeze through a hole in a building as small as an inch in diameter.

The birds prefer fruits and seeds, either wild or cultivated. They supplement their diet during the spring breeding season with insects. They will eat virtually any livestock feed that is not bound and covered.

Reproduction

Starlings nest almost anywhere they can wedge a small nest, including commercial buildings. Females lay as many as seven eggs, which hatch after less than two weeks of incubation. Young starlings leave the nest within three weeks of birth.

Signs of a European Starling Infestation

Sightings of the birds or their nests are indicators of starling activity.  The more annoying signs are their noisy chatter and messy droppings.

More Information

Starlings were introduced in North America a century ago. Since then, they have spread to virtually every state and province.