Stocky black birds with short tails, triangular wings, and long pointed bills. Dark and glossy feathers in summer, white speckled in the winter. Plumage is a purple/green iridescent. Beaks are yellow.
Forages and flies in large flocks, aggressive, boisterous and loud.
Forages mostly on ground in open areas, probing in soil with bill. Sometimes likes fruit up in trees, sometimes likes catching insects. With berries and insects, also likes seeds. If available, does prefer insects. Will come to bird feeders.
Invasive species from Europe. Common in towns, suburbs, and countryside near human settlements. Will feed off the ground (lawns, sidewalks etc.) or in trees, buildings etc.
4-6 eggs/clutch. Both parents feed nestlings. Males will sometimes have more than one mate. Nests are in any cavity, usually holes in trees or buildings. 2 broods/year.
Many northern birds migrate south in fall, most southern birds permanent residents.
ISSUES CAUSED BY EUROPEAN STARLINGS:
Negative impact on native hole-nesting birds (i.e., bluebirds), competing for nesting sites.
Eat high protein supplements managers add to food at livestock facilities
Can spread disease between livestock facilities, especially swine
Droppings can pose health risk to humans
i.e., fungal respiratory disease histoplasmosis
Cause property damage
consume cultivated fruits
disturb turf on golf courses as they search for grubs
acidic droppings corrosive to building components
Large roosts in urban locations/buildings cause health concerns, filth, noises, odors
Airport safety hazards
HOW TO MANAGE ISSUES WITH EUROPEAN STARLINGS:
Exclude from buildings
close any building opening larger than 1 inch
rubber strips or PVC in open doorways
netting in doorways (can be torn by machinery)
place wood/metal/plexiglass at a 45 degree angle over ledges where nesting occurs
cover underside of beams with netting, or over fruit crops like grapes or cherries
Edit bird houses to exclude starlings
Clean spilled grain and store in bird proof facilities
Feed animals in covered areas and use forms starlings can’t swallow, such as cubes. Mix supplements in well and adjust schedules to times when starlings aren’t around
Drain unnecessary water pools
Thin tree branches near homes
Frighten birds before they’re attached to the site
Create toxic perches or use starlicide, trap, shoot
Sources: The Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology bird guide, Human Society of the United States, Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, Nest Watch