Facts, Identification and Control
Similar in size to robins, starlings are short-tailed birds with long, narrow beaks. 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 a brownish colored body with white spots and a blue-black bill in the colder weather months.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Troublesome to livestock owners, starlings eat animal feed and can contaminate entire batches with their droppings while doing so. The birds travel in flocks of several thousand in the winter and are prone to congregate in large numbers in residential yards. Starlings can be found just about anywhere humans reside, including cities, suburbs, and rural locations. Often seen swooping down to snatch food off the ground, starlings spend much of their time perched on trees, telephone lines, and buildings. The birds may nest in a variety of habitats, including open, grassy fields, water sources, trees, and buildings with nooks that provide suitable nesting space. Generally, starlings only avoid living in desert, chaparral, and expansive forest habitats. Although fairly large and robust, individual starlings can squeeze through a hole in a building as small as an inch in diameter.
European starlings prefer fruits and seeds, either wild or cultivated, and they frequently supplement their diet during the spring breeding season with insects such as grasshoppers, beetles, flies, caterpillars, snails, earthworms, millipedes and spiders.
Starlings nest with breeding in mind, and males pick nesting sites that will attract females. The birds can inhabit almost any space large enough for nests to fit. Females produce 3-6 eggs per clutch and produce 1-3 broods per year. Baby starlings hatch after about a two-week incubation period. Young starlings leave the nest within three weeks of birth. Females may attempt to deposit an egg in another female’s nest. Females that could not find a mate in the early portion of the breeding season do this most often.
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.
Since European starlings are very closely associated with our buildings and other sheltered locations, it is likely they will become a problem to homeowners and business owners. If so, be sure to contact your pest management professional and request his or her assistance in developing a bird management plan. Your pest management professional will provide a comprehensive inspection and based on the findings, prepare an effective and efficient plan for reducing or eliminating bird-related issues.
European starlings living in North America descend from about 100 birds brought to New York, NY, in the 1890’s. The reason for doing this: so America would have all the birds ever mentioned in Shakespeare’s writings.