How can I tell the difference between a Crow and a Starling by looking at it?

Ever tried telling a crow from a starling? It’s not easy, but with keen eyes and some key observations, you could become a birdwatching pro!

Crows are larger birds with black feathers and sturdy builds. They have thick beaks and strong legs that let them walk on the ground. Their wingspan is impressive and they fly gracefully. Plus, crows flock together and make a lot of noise.

Starlings are smaller birds, with black feathers that sparkle green or purple in the sunlight. They can mimic all kinds of sounds – from car alarms to whistles.

A passionate birdwatcher once mistook a starling for a crow during a bird count event. This caused skewed counting data and inaccurate survey results. It shows how vital it is to identify crows and starlings based on their features.

Understanding the physical characteristics of crows and starlings

Crows and starlings have different physical characteristics. Let’s take a look at their key attributes side by side:

Features Crows Starlings
Size Larger Smaller
Color Mostly black Diverse colors
Beak Shape Thick and curved Pointed and slender
Feathers Glossy and smooth Iridescent and mottled

These features can help us tell the two birds apart. But, there are other aspects that can assist in identification.

For example, you can tell them apart by observing their behavior. Crows are social and intelligent; they usually travel in groups or pairs. On the other hand, starlings are independent and usually flock in synchronized movements.

To identify crows and starlings by appearance, here are some tips:

  1. Notice size: Crows are usually larger than starlings.
  2. Look at color: Most crows are black, while starlings feature diverse hues in their feathers.
  3. Examine beak shape: Crows have thicker and curved beaks, while starlings have pointed and slender beaks.
  4. Check feathers: Crows have glossy, smooth feathers, while starlings have iridescent and mottled plumage.

By using these suggestions, you can easily differentiate between the two birds.

Identifying differences in size and shape

Distinguishing a crow from a starling requires careful observation of size and shape. At first, they may seem alike, but their unique characteristics become visible upon closer examination. Let’s review a table highlighting the significant features of both birds.

Bird Size (inches) Shape
Crow 17-21 Stout body, broad wings
Starling 6-8 Slender body, pointed wings

As seen in the table, crows are larger, measuring 17 to 21 inches. They have stout bodies and broad wings. On the other hand, starlings are much smaller, with a range of 6 to 8 inches. They have slender bodies and pointed wings.

Also, crows have a larger wingspan than starlings. This combination of size and shape helps to identify the two species.

Amazingly, crows are known for their intelligence. Ornithologists at the National Audubon Society say that they can solve problems and even recognize human faces!

Analyzing the color patterns and plumage

To analyze the color patterns and plumage of a crow and a starling and tell them apart, explore the differences in their feathers and beaks. Discover how these unique attributes distinguish the two bird species.

Sub-heading: Differences in feathers and beaks

The plumage and color patterns of different bird species vary greatly. And their feathers and beaks are especially distinct. Let’s take a closer look!

Feathers and beaks are essential for birds to survive and adapt. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. This helps them with camouflage, mating, and even getting food.

Let’s explore some examples. Here’s a table:

Bird Species Feather Characteristics Beak Characteristics
Peacock Vibrant colors Long, slender beak
Woodpecker Sturdy feathers Sharp, pointed beak
Flamingo Pink plumage Long, curved beak
Toucan Colorful feathers Large, vibrant beak

This just scratches the surface of the amazing diversity among birds. There are so many other incredible adaptations to discover.

By learning more about their unique features, we can appreciate nature’s craftsmanship. We can marvel at how birds have evolved and managed to thrive over time.

Don’t miss out on the chance to see the stunning array of colors and shapes in different species. Take time to observe and admire the beauty and intricacy of nature’s design.

Next time you spot a bird with unusual feathers or an unusual beak, take a moment to appreciate the amazing work of evolution.

Observing behavioral patterns

To better distinguish between a crow and a starling by observation, focus on their behavioral patterns. This section explores the solution by examining the sub-sections: Differences in flight patterns.

Sub-heading: Differences in flight patterns

Exploring the various flight patterns of birds can help us understand their behavior and ecology. Let’s investigate how these differ among species.

Swallows undertake long-distance journeys, catch insects mid-air, and are aggressive when defending their areas. Hummingbirds have shorter migratory routes and hover to forage. Eagles soar, scan for prey, and guard large territories. Penguins typically don’t migrate, they dive for food, and live in colonies.

To protect the birds, we should prioritize habitats along migratory routes and feeding grounds. We must also consider the needs of long-distance migrants and territorial species. By doing this, we can ensure birds’ survival in our changing world.

Identifying vocalizations and sounds

Distinguish between a crow and a starling with their vocalizations and sounds. Three points to help:

  • Listen for calls – Crows have a deep ‘cawing’ sound. Starlings chirp a range of complex songs.
  • Observe flight – Crows fly slowly in a straight line. Starlings zip around in fast-changing flocks.
  • Analyze feeding – Crows probe the ground for food. Starlings eat insects, fruits, grains, and animals.

In addition, crows are bigger, 17-21 inches long from beak to tail. Starlings are smaller, measuring 7-9 inches.

To accurately identify:

  • Take note of multiple cues – Look at vocalizations, flight, feeding, and size.
  • Use resources – Use field guides or bird ID apps with images and sounds.
  • Practice observation – Spend time watching birds in their natural habitats.


Summing up, it can be tricky to spot the difference between crows and starlings due to their similar looks. But there are characteristics to help you identify them.

Size can provide a clue. Crows are usually larger, between 16-21 inches. Starlings measure around 7-8 inches. Spotting the size difference helps tell them apart.

Color can also help. Crows are always black. Starlings have feathers that shimmer with green and purple. This color difference helps identify them.

Beak shape is another way. Crows have straight, strong beaks. Perfect for scavenging and cracking open things. Starlings have slender, pointed beaks, made for probing soil and picking up insects.

Finally, looking at behavior can offer insight. Crows are clever and social, found in small groups called murders. Starlings are gregarious, often found in large flocks. Noting these behaviors can help tell them apart.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I tell the difference between a crow and a starling by looking at it?

A: There are several visual cues you can use to distinguish between crows and starlings:

1. Size: Crows are larger than starlings. A crow typically measures around 17-21 inches in length, while a starling is usually around 7-8 inches long.

2. Bill Shape: Crows have stout, thick bills, whereas starlings have slender, pointed bills.

3. Plumage: Crows have an overall glossy black plumage, while starlings have iridescent feathers that appear shiny and often have speckles or spots.

4. Wings: Crows have broad wings with rounded ends, whereas starlings have pointed wings.

5. Flight Patterns: Crows usually have a direct and steady flight, while starlings have a more erratic and swooping flight pattern.

6. Behavior: Crows are known for their intelligent behavior and often move in small groups, while starlings tend to gather in large flocks and perform synchronized aerial displays.

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.