Quick to tolerate human activity, the European Starling has adapted well to nesting in structures such as signs and buildings with suitable crevices. Many people don’t look close enough to notice, but the plumage of European Starlings varies throughout the year, with summer and fall birds showing white spots, which wear away by spring leaving mostly black plumage.
European Starlings often return to the same nest sites in subsequent years, and they are relatively long-lived for a small songbird, with a record of over 17 years in North America and 21 years in Germany. Starlings often gather in communal roosts at night, and travel some distance to foraging areas during the day.
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Description of the European Starling
The European Starling is blackish with iridescent green and purple areas, and variable pale spotting. It has a short, square tail. Yellow bill that is blue at the base. Length: 8 in. Wingspan: 16 in.
Yellow bill that is pink at the base.
Seasonal change in appearance
Heavily speckled in fall and winter; less so in summer. Bill is dark in the winter.
Nondescript brownish plumage and a brownish bill. Newly-hatched Starlings have no feathers at first and are completely helpless.
Cities, towns, farms, and fields.
Insects, berries and seeds.
Forages on the ground probing thick grass or soil with its bill.
Resident across nearly all of the North America south of central Canada.
Bent Life History
Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the European Starling.
The shape of a bird’s wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species’ identification.
- Male, Washington, Oct.
- From below
- Molting female, immature, Washington, July
- From Below
- Male, juvenile, Washington, May
- From below
- Female, juvenile (younger), Washington, July
- From below
Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History
The digestive systems of starling can change with the season to be more efficient for the primary food items available at any given time.
Male starling will fight rather viciously with each other when competing for a territory.
A wide variety of squeaks and chirps are produced, and starling can imitate sounds made by other birds.
- Adults distinctive. Juvenile starling might be confused with female Brown-headed Cowbird.
The nest is in a tree cavity or building crevice.
Color: Greenish or bluish-white.
Incubation and fledging:
– Young hatch at 12 days.
– Young fledge (leave the nest) in 21 days after hatching but remain with the adults for some time.
Bent Life History of the European Starling
The Bent information will be added shortly.