DESCRIPTION

Nestling:  gray down, large yellow gape flanges, yellow mouth, bulbous body

Fledgling:  drab gray-brown overall, black legs and feet with a pointy dark bill

Adult Female/Male:  overall black plumage highlighted with an iridescent green and purple gloss, with red legs and feet and a stubby tail

Adult Size:  approximately 8″ long and weigh 60 grams

HISTORY

European Starlings were purposefully introduced into the United States from Europe by enthusiasts who wanted American to have all the birds that Shakespeare even mentioned.  The effort failed twice before a successful introduction of about 60 birds was made in New York City’s Central Park in 1890. Those birds reproduced and spread quickly across developed and other human-altered habitats. Today, more than 200 million European Starlings range from Alaska to Mexico,   Starlings are monogamous but can be polygamous. They begin nesting early in the breeding season. Males establish territories and choose nest sites, then attract females. European Starlings are cavity nesters, and nests are located in natural hollows, old woodpecker holes, birdhouses, building eaves, dryer vents, and crevices.

MAJOR THREATS TO OUR NATIVE SPECIES, AGRICULTURE, AND LIVESTOCK

European Starlings are cavity nesters and are a fierce competitor with woodpeckers, chickadees, purple martins, wood ducks, and bluebirds.

European Starlings often take over the nest of native birds, expelling the occupants.

European Starlings also cause problems at livestock facilities where they selectively eat the high-protein supplements that are added to livestock rations and contaminate feed and water with their droppings.

European Starlings are an agricultural threat since they consume cultivated fruits such as grapes, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, figs, apples, and cherries.  In some areas, they are known to pull sprouting grains, particularly winter wheat, and eat the planted seed.  This damage equates to higher prices in the grocery store.

BREEDING

A mated pair will produce 2-3 broods of 5-8 eggs each breeding season.  Both members of the pair help incubate the eggs for about 12 days. The parents help brood the young and bring food to the nest for an additional 19-21 days after hatching. The young will continue to follow their parents for another 1-2 weeks begging and demanding food.