Starlings

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Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) are regarded as one of the most disruptive species of birds in North America. Since its arrival in 1890, the starling has spread to most of the continent and is now abundant in many parts of North America.

WHAT DO STARLINGS LOOK LIKE?

  • Starling appear to be black from a distance, however, they have dark feathers with a greenish sheen and white spots in the winter that might be difficult to see on cloudy days.

  • In the summer, Starlings are an iridescent purplish-green and their spots turn dark and glossy.

  • Adult Starlings have yellow bills from January to June (their breeding season) and dark brown bills the rest of the year.

  • Adult Starlings are about 8.5” in length and weigh approximately 3.2 oz.

  • When in flight, their wings are short and pointed and give the silhouette of a star; hence their name.

ARE STARLINGS DANGEROUS?

  • Yes. Starlings are unhealthy, disease carrying birds. Their droppings are dangerous and should not be handled or moved without protective gear.

  • Many diseases can be transmitted through Starlings to livestock and some diseases can infect humans.

  • A variety of infectious diseases can be contributed to Starlings that include: bacterial diseases, fungal diseases, protozoan diseases, pulmonary diseases and even E. Coli and Salmonella can be passed to humans indirectly from Starlings through livestock contamination.

CAN MY PROPERTY BE DAMAGED BY STARLINGS?

Yes. Starlings can damage property in a variety of ways:

  • Fecal matter from Starlings, their noise, and their odor can create safety hazards

  • The acidity from Starling droppings can corrode metals

  • Starlings can damage a variety of fruit crops affecting both the amount and the quality of the produce.

  • Starlings will also compete for nesting sites with native cavity-nesting birds including Bluebirds, Purple Martins, and Wood Ducks.

WHY ARE STARLINGS IN MY YARD?

  • Starlings prefer grassy areas that enable foraging, trees or buildings that provide suitable cavities for nesting, and water sources to support feeding.

  • Starlings tend to live around people in order to be near mowed lawns, city streets, and agricultural fields for nesting and nourishment.

Why are Aphids in my garden?

  • Aphids are looking for food as they feed on fruit and plants. Aphids are also attracted trees and shrubs.

WHAT DO STARLINGS EAT?

  • The eating habits of Starlings vary. For example, they may feed on fruit from the trees, flying insects caught in the air, or insects, berries, and seeds that they forage from the ground in open areas.

  • If available, Starlings primarily eat insects including beetles, grasshoppers, flies, caterpillars, spiders, snails, earthworms, and other invertebrates.

WHAT IS THE LIFECYCLE OF STARLINGS?

  • Both Male and Female Starlings are involved with nesting and incubation of bluish or greenish white eggs.

  • The incubation period for Starlings is 12 days and the nesting period is 21-23 days.

  • Young Starlings usually leave the nest 21 days after hatching.

  • Starlings have been known to live 15 years and often return to the same nest every year.

5 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT STARLINGS:

  • Starlings are great imitators and can learn the calls of up to 20 different bird species.

  • Starlings are fast and strong fliers with speeds up to 48 mph.

  • Scientists have found that Starlings can taste salt, sugars, citric acid, and tannins which can explain their varied eating habits.

  • Starlings are aggressive birds and compete for the nest sites of other birds. They have been known to chase off a variety of less-aggressive birds such as Wood Ducks, Tree Swallows, Buffleheads, Northern Flickers, and Eastern Bluebirds.

  • The Starling population in the United States is estimated at 140 million birds. Fifty pairs of Starlings were originally released on the streets of New York City in 1890 by a group called the American Acclimatization Society who intended to populate the U.S. with familiar European species.