european starling when was it discovered?

The European Starling, also known as Sturnus vulgaris, has an amazing history! It was first spotted in Europe in the 18th century, quickly drawing the attention of early ornithologists.

This bird is renowned for its melodic song and coloured feathers with speckles. But what really stands out about the European Starling is its incredible mimicry of sounds. From car alarms to human speech, these birds can imitate a wide variety of sounds with perfect accuracy.

If you haven’t seen the European Starling up-close yet, you should! Their aerial acrobatics and synchronized movements are truly awe-inspiring. So why not grab your binoculars and go out to witness this majestic creature?

Discovery of the European Starling

The European Starling, also known as Sturnus vulgaris, was discovered in 1758 by Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus. Its arrival in North America made a stir – both excitement and controversy – due to its fast population growth and affect on native birds.

These birds are smart and adaptable. People see them as both a nuisance and a beloved sight in many cities.

In the early 1890s, the American Acclimatization Society brought around 100 European Starlings to Central Park in NY. Their plan was to have all birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works in North America. Little did they know it would cause an invasion. The birds multiplied and spread across the continent.

These birds go by the name of “feathered bullets”. They have amazing vocal skills – imitating a wide range of sounds, like other bird songs, human speech, car alarms, even instruments. This made them popular for scientific research and entertainment.

To attract these birds to your backyard, try offering special treats like suet cakes or mealworms. But be careful – they have a habit of dominating feeders and blocking other species from food resources.

Background information on the European Starling

The European Starling, scientifically known as Sturnus vulgaris, is a songbird native to Europe. It was taken to North America in the 19th century and has since adapted well. It’s easily recognizable with its black plumage and speckled white spots.

It’s also well-known for its beautiful song and its ability to mimic other birds and humans. On top of that, it can be seen performing aerial displays in murmurations, where thousands of them fly in unison.

Unfortunately, its introduction to North America was intentional, with Eugene Schieffelin wanting to introduce every bird Shakespeare mentioned into Central Park. Now, its rapid population growth has caused issues with native cavity-nesting birds, as they compete for nesting sites.

An interesting fact: The European Starling was first recorded in North America on March 6, 1890 in Central Park, by Eugene Schieffelin himself.

Impact of European Starlings on the ecosystem

To understand the impact of European Starlings on the ecosystem, delve into the sub-sections that highlight their negative and positive effects. Explore how these birds disrupt native species and ecosystems, as well as their potential benefits such as controlling pest populations and promoting seed dispersal.

Negative effects

European Starlings have a huge effect on the ecosystems they live in. These effects range from bad to harmful, messing up the balance of native species and changing entire environments. We need to pay attention to these effects and try to stop them.

  • Competition for Resources: European Starlings are aggressive, often taking over the nesting sites and food sources of native birds. This can lead to fewer native birds, as they struggle to find places to live and food to eat.
  • Spatial Displacement: As their populations grow, European Starlings push other birds out of their homes. Native birds may end up somewhere else, which can upset the whole ecosystem.
  • Nest Takeovers: European Starlings take over nests that were meant for other species. This steals native birds’ chances to have babies, and their population sizes get smaller.
  • Damage to Crops: Flocks of European Starlings eat lots of cherries, grapes, and blueberries, costing farmers money and hurting local economies.
  • Spread of Diseases: European Starlings carry diseases that can hurt people and animals. In their big groups, diseases spread quickly, and this is a danger to public health and wildlife.

Urban areas are perfect for European Starlings. They eat lots of different things, so they can survive in cities and in rural areas. They move into new places quickly, so they are great at invading.

It was a mistake when people brought European Starlings to North America. In the 1800s, someone wanted to bring all the birds from Shakespeare’s plays to New York City. So, they set free 60 European Starlings into Central Park. Now, they live all over North America.

This story is a warning. It shows that sometimes people do things with good intentions, but bad things happen. We need to think carefully and do research before introducing new species to places they don’t belong. Knowing the bad effects can help us manage the population and protect our original birds.

Positive effects

European Starlings have remarkable impacts on the ecosystem. These include:

  • Controlling insect populations
  • Dispersing seeds
  • Cycling nutrients

They help reduce the need for pesticides, which is beneficial for the environment and human health. By consuming fruits and berries from plants, they spread seeds to new areas. This promotes biodiversity by creating new plant communities and enhancing genetic diversity of existing ones.

The birds’ droppings contain valuable nutrients that enrich the soil, providing essential nourishment for plants. This keeps a balance between organisms and their environment – benefiting the ecosystem.

Starlings have also been seen reducing populations of invasive species by competing for resources. A study published in The Journal of Applied Ecology found them consuming large quantities of ladybugs’ eggs in North America.

It is clear that European Starlings have an essential role in maintaining a harmonious ecosystem. They do this through controlling insect populations, dispersing seeds, cycling nutrients, and managing invasive species.

Distribution and habitat of European Starlings

European Starlings have a wide reach, found across Europe, Asia, and North America. They thrive in urban and rural environments. Often nesting in cavities like tree holes or buildings, they gather in large flocks, creating impressive aerial displays.

Check out their habitat preferences in this table:

Location Habitat
Europe Woodlands, forests, farmlands, urban areas
Asia Forests, agricultural fields
North America Urban areas, grasslands

These birds have also been introduced to other parts of the world, such as Australia and New Zealand. Here, they have become successful invasive species.

Not only are these birds highly adaptable, they also possess the unique ability to mimic sounds. They imitate bird calls and human noises, such as car alarms and phone ringtones. This makes them popular among birdwatchers and researchers.

If you want to attract European Starlings to your garden, provide nesting boxes with the right-sized entrance holes. Plant native trees and shrubs to attract insects, which form an important part of their diet. Also, create open areas with short grass to mimic their natural grassland habitats.

Through understanding the distribution and habitat preferences of European Starlings, we can appreciate how they have colonized various regions around the world. Offering a vibrant presence to our surroundings, their flock formations and vocal repertoire are truly something to behold.

Physical characteristics of European Starlings

The European Starling stands out for its specific physical features. Let’s look at what makes it one-of-a-kind!

  • Size: Around 7 to 8 inches long, it’s a small to medium-sized bird.
  • Plumage: Its feathers are super glossy black with iridescent purple-green and white speckles. Wow!
  • Beak: A slender, pointed beak lets it find and eat different foods, including insects, fruits, and seeds.
  • Wingspan: With a wingspan of 12 to 16 inches, it can fly really well.
  • Vocalizations: It can mimic sounds and mix them into its songs – amazing!

Plus, it’s very adaptable. It can live in different places, from forests and meadows to parks and gardens.

Finally, an interesting story about the European Starling: In the 19th century, Eugene Schieffelin released pairs of these birds in Central Park, New York City. This accidental introduction has now made starlings a common sight across North America.

Interesting facts about European Starlings

European Starlings – Sturnus vulgaris – are amazing birds! Here are some cool facts about them.

Appearance: They have glossy black feathers with green and purple hues. During breeding season, their feathers have a speckled pattern.

Vocal Abilities: European Starlings can copy human speech, car alarms, and even melodies from musical instruments.

Impressive Flock Behavior: They form large flocks called murmurations. These flocks are both protective and beautiful to see.

Their Adaptation Skills: European Starlings are able to live in many different habitats. They also have problem-solving skills that help keep them alive.

Feeding Techniques: They use their beaks to probe the ground and flip leaves to find food. They even eat insects on cattle.

Attracting Them: To bring these birds to your garden or backyard, provide nesting boxes 10 feet above the ground in open areas.


The story of the European Starling’s discovery is a long one. In 1890, Eugene Schieffelin released around 60 of them in Central Park, New York City. His goal? To bring all birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays to the US! But this had unintended effects on US ecosystems.

These birds are adaptable and invasive. They reproduced quickly and displaced native species. This is due to their diverse diet and nesting habits, plus their ability to outcompete other birds for resources.

Still, some see them as nuisances. Yet, their melodic songs and iridescent plumage bring delight to city dwellers. The European Starling continues to thrive today, showing the power of humans on global biodiversity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When was the European Starling discovered?

A: The European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) was discovered by Carl Linnaeus in 1758.

Q: Who discovered the European Starling?

A: The European Starling was discovered by Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish biologist and taxonomist.

Q: Is the European Starling native to Europe?

A: No, the European Starling is not native to Europe. It was originally found in Asia, but was introduced to North America in 1890.

Q: Why was the European Starling introduced to North America?

A: The European Starling was introduced to North America by a group called the American Acclimatization Society, who wanted to introduce all the birds mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare. They released 60 European Starlings in New York City’s Central Park, and the population has since exploded.

Q: What impact has the European Starling had on native bird species in North America?

A: The European Starling has had a negative impact on native bird species in North America. Its aggressive behavior and ability to adapt to various habitats have allowed it to outcompete native birds for nesting sites and food resources. This has led to declines in some native bird populations.

Q: Are European Starlings considered pests?

A: Yes, European Starlings are considered pests in some areas due to their invasive nature and the negative impact they have on native bird species. They can also cause damage to agricultural crops and create nuisance in urban areas.

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.