Common Starling, European Starling, is native to most of temperate Europe
and western Asia. It was introduced into the New York in 1890 when only 100
birds were released. (1)
Since then they have spread
the US and Canada. Large flocks of Starlings (easily made up of thousands of
birds) can be seen in farm areas in upstate NY. This has proven to be both
beneficial and detrimental at the same time. They do eat many crop damaging
insects yet they also eat grain seeds and have replaced native species.
Frankly, I believe this a classic example of the unintended consequence of
introducing an “invasive species”.
The breeding season begins in early spring and summer.
Males choose the nest site and use it to attract females. (2) I have had
numerous issues with Starlings becoming stuck in vent grates and have
friends that had them entering the house via the fireplace. Starlings also
occasionally nest in burrows and cliffs. The female lays 3 to 6 light blue –
green/white eggs. The incubation period is approximately 12 days. The chicks
are helpless when hatched. They fledge in approximately another 21 days.
Pairs may have three broods per breeding season.
Starlings are great vocal mimics: individuals can learn
the calls of up to 20 different species. Their normal calls are rather raspy
calls with no real rhythm.
As a note – in NY there is no closed hunting season on
Starlings (at least now). If you need target practice,
please have fun. This is the only time I actually advocate killing a bird
Starlings are chunky and blackbird-sized they are 8”–9” long with a
wingspan of approximately 13”-16”. They weigh between 2–4 oz. The bill is
narrow conical with a sharp tip. In flight their wings are short and pointed
as are their tails. At a distance, starlings look black. In summer they are
purplish-green iridescent with yellow beaks; in fresh winter plumage they
are brown, covered in white spots. Their legs are stout and as can be seen
Juveniles are grey-brown, and by their first winter
resemble adults though often retain some brown juvenile feathering
especially on the head in the early part of the winter.
European Starlings prefer urban or suburban areas. They also commonly reside
in grassy areas such as farmland, grazing pastures, open forests and
Starling range from Alaska, through much of Canada, all the contiguous US.
Starlings do not engage in any significant migration.
Starlings are omnivorous but they eat mostly insects and other invertebrates
such as grasshoppers, beetles, flies, caterpillars, snails, earthworms,
millipedes, and spiders. They also eat fruits and grains and will frequent
The Audubon Society Field Guide to North