European Starling is a common bird that can be found year-round in Europe and the UK. These birds are also known as Common Starlings. Adults are beautiful with their iridescent green and purple coloring.
These birds were introduced in countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand in the late 1800s and early 1900s. These birds are abundant in cities and towns in the countryside.
However, not much is known about what starling babies look like. Some bird species have specific names for the babies, but when it comes to European Starlings, there is no specific term. Instead, they go by the words of hatchlings, chicks, fledglings, or nestlings.
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What Does a Baby Starling Look Like?
Newly-hatched starlings are almost completely naked. They only have a light covering of light grey down or white natal. On their heads, hatchlings have down that is usually greyish or brown. Their bills are a vivid yellow, and the gape, also known as the inside of the beak, is bright orange.
One interesting thing about baby starlings is they’re a bird with a notable amount of natal down in comparison to other birds. This may be a shock since we stated previously that they hatch pretty much naked!
Starlings are born altrical. This means they’re born in an underdeveloped state and are completely helpless. They depend on their parents for survival.
European Starlings weigh about 6.4 grams when they hatch, and their eyes stay closed for 6 to 7 days. They’ll start to move when they are about 3 days old and can crawl around at 4 days old.
European Starling hatchlings have contour feathers that are visible under the skin. However, these feathers will not appear until the chick is around 1 week old.
Overall, it takes starling chicks 15 to 21 days for all of their feathers to appear. Nestlings are able to regulate their body temperature at around 13 days old.
Male starlings are the ones that choose the nest site and build the nest. They do this as a part of their courting ritual. Males will always choose a cavity to construct the nest in.
Usually, the cavities are in structures like buildings, traffic signals, streetlights, nesting boxes, or woodpecker holes. Starlings will occasionally nest in cliffs and burrows. Nesting holes are commonly around 10 to 25 feet off the ground, but they can be as high up as 60 feet.
Male European Starlings will fill the nesting cavity with pine needles, feathers, grasses, trash, string, and cloth. There’s almost always a depression close to the back of the nesting cavity where the nest cup is built and lined with fine bark, grass, feathers, and leaves.
Female starlings will supervise the finishing touches and may even throw out some of the materials. Through the nesting periods, starlings have been known to add new green plants to the nest, specifically during egg laying and incubation. Both the male and female will incubate the eggs, and nests are created in as little as 1 to 3 days.
However, it can take up to 12 days for the babies to hatch, and they’ll leave the nest around the three-week mark.
- Clutch size ranges from 3 to 6 eggs.
- European Starlings have 1 to 2 broods.
- Egg length ranges from 1.1 to 1.3 inches (2.7 to 3.2 centimeters).
- Egg width ranges from 0.8 to 0.9 inches (1.9 2.3 centimeters).
- The incubation period is around 12 days.
- The nestling period ranges from 21 to 23 days.
- Eggs are usually greenish-white or bluish.
How To Tell Baby Starlings Apart?
Baby European Starlings look very similar to baby House Sparrows making it challenging to tell them apart. European Starling hatchlings have bright yellow flanges and pink skin under the light grey down.
House Sparrow hatchlings have naked pink skin, can be less than 1 inch long, and sometimes have a black streak down their wings and spine.
European Starling nestlings have bright yellow flanges, dark grey pin feathers, and grey down. House Sparrow nestlings have cream or yellow flanges, brown pin feathers, pink skin that is somewhat visible, and naked bellies.
European Starling fledglings have longer, narrower beaks, mouth corners that are off-white, long legs, short tails, dark gray feathers, and downy tufts that look like eyebrows. House Sparrow fledglings have short brown tails, yellow flanges that start to turn, brown feathers, and can still be squatty.
Overall, juvenile starlings are pretty easy to identify.
What Kind Of Food Do Baby Starlings Eat?
Adult European Starlings will feed the chicks a mixture of things. However, more often than not, they’re provided with small invertebrates with soft bodies. Both the male and female will bring food back to the hatchlings.
It’s important to note that what they eat can vary depending on their habitat. Some of the more common things baby starlings eat are caterpillars, beetles, millipedes, grasshoppers, crickets, and cranefly larvae.
Related: What do baby birds eat?
These tiny insects are given almost immediately after they hatch, as soon as they are ready to eat. Once the nestlings get older, a wider assortment of food and larger insects will be introduced. It’s not uncommon for the parents to bring food items into the nest before the babies even hatch. They’ll build up a small stock of food to ensure the babies will have enough food.
Once the hatchlings fledge, the adults will continue feeding the juveniles for a short time. This introduces them to the adult starling diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do baby starlings look like?
Starlings that are newly hatched are almost completely naked. They only have a light covering of white natal or light grey down. On their heads, hatchlings have down that is usually greyish or brown. Their bills are a vivid yellow, and the gape, also known as the inside of the beak, is bright orange.
How long does it take for a baby starling to fly?
Baby starlings are usually able to fly at 19 days old. However, this can vary, and just because they can fly doesn’t mean they’re leaving the nest.
What do you do if you find a baby starling?
If you find a baby starling, it most likely does not need your help unless its eyes are closed, or it’s featherless. Birds with closed eyes or no feathers are nestlings and shouldn’t be out of the nest. If you can locate the nest, the best thing to do is put the nestling back in. If you cannot locate the nest, leave the baby starling where you found it. If it’s in the sun, move it to a shaded area near where you found it. The parents will come back for it. Don’t worry about touching the bird; your scent won’t deter the parents from coming back.