how did the european starling come to canada

how did the european starling come to canada

The European starling, or Sturnus vulgaris, has made its way to Canada. Its migration story is intriguing.

It arrived in North America in the 19th century when 60 individuals were released in New York City’s Central Park. This was done mistakenly, thinking it would introduce all of Shakespeare’s birds to North America.

Their strong flying skills helped them spread to different Canadian regions. But, their arrival had an impact on native bird populations. They are competitive and take food and nesting sites from other species. This led to a decrease in bluebirds and tree swallows.

To reduce these effects, two options have been proposed:

  1. Building nest boxes especially for native birds would give them a place away from European starlings.
  2. Creating diverse landscapes with varied vegetation types benefits a wider range of birds, and reduces conflict with the starlings.

These suggestions work by making conditions less favorable for the starlings. By offering alternatives and diverse habitats we can help maintain healthy populations of both native and introduced birds.

Historical Context

The European starling’s arrival in Canada holds an interesting history. Here are five key points to consider:

  1. They were intentionally brought by the American Acclimatization Society – a group of Shakespeare fans – to the US. This was part of their mission to introduce all birds mentioned by Shakespeare in the US. The European starling was chosen as it featured in “Henry IV”.
  2. In 1890, sixty starlings were released in New York City’s Central Park. Their numbers grew quickly. By the mid-20th century, they had reached Canada due to their adaptive nature and ability to survive in various environments.
  3. Over time, the European starling has had both good and bad impacts on the Canadian environment. While providing insect control and seed dispersal, they have also been competing with native birds for food and nesting sites.
  4. Today, they are common and abundant birds in North America.
  5. These birds have amazing vocal abilities. They are known to produce complex songs with mimicry and melodic elements. They can imitate other bird species as well as human sounds.

Pro Tip: If you wish to observe or attract European starlings in your backyard, you can offer them suet or mealworms as food.

Arrival in Canada

The European Starling’s arrival in Canada dates back to 1890. A group of enthusiasts wanted to introduce all the bird species Shakespeare wrote about, in North America.

These birds adapted to their new home easily. They spread quickly due to their ability to live in many different habitats, and outcompete native birds for food and nests.

The European Starling has had good and bad effects. They help control pests, but they also compete with native birds for nests.

An amazing story shows how adaptable these birds are. During World War II, they flew into an airbase hangar through a small opening. They ate 80 tons of grain before being noticed!

The European Starling’s story in Canada shows how humans can change ecosystems and affect wildlife.

Impact on Native Species

The European starling’s arrival in Canada has had a great effect on native species. What follows is a list of the impacts:

  • Competition for nesting spots. Starlings are very aggressive and often take cavities that would have been used by native birds.
  • Outcompeting local birds for food. These birds can adapt to different habitats and come in larger groups, giving them an edge in finding food.
  • Interrupting native birds’ breeding habits. Starlings defend their territories and scare other species, which decreases their breeding success.
  • Reduced insect populations. Starlings consume lots of insects, leaving fewer prey for native birds.
  • Displacement of native birds in some areas. This can throw off local ecosystems and lead to a drop in biodiversity.
  • Economic damage. Starlings harm crops, spread illness to livestock, and make urban areas unclean.

We can still try to reduce these effects. Nest box programs designed for cavity-nesting birds can help those being displaced. Diverse habitats can give native birds refuge from starlings. Lastly, pet owners should be taught the importance of keeping cats indoors or in enclosures. These steps can aid the conservation of Canada’s biodiversity by softening the effects of the European starling on native species.

Human Intervention

Humans significantly impacted the presence of European starlings in Canada. Five main points to note are:

  1. Acclimatization Societies released them.
  2. A few escaped from captivity.
  3. They were imported and released for pest control.
  4. Ships unintentionally carried them.
  5. Human activities created suitable habitats.

Environmental agencies try to control their populations to protect native bird species. Research in The Auk: Ornithological Advances shows that over 200 million European starlings are now in North America as a result of human introductions.

Current Status and Future Outlook

The status and outlook of the European starling in Canada has been a topic of interest. Let’s take a look at some data points:

  1. Population: High.
  2. Future: Expected to increase.
  3. Distribution: Wide.
  4. Likely to expand.
  5. Impact: Ecological threat.
  6. Potential concerns.
  7. Control Efforts: Ongoing.
  8. Continued measures needed.

The population is high, with a wide distribution across various regions. This raises concerns about its ecological impact, as it’s an invasive species. Efforts are ongoing to control the population and reduce its negative effects. But, the future outlook is uncertain.

It’s important to continue monitoring and implementing strategies to manage the European starling population in Canada. This will help maintain a balanced ecosystem and protect native bird species from further disruption.

The European starling first arrived in Canada in 1890. Eugene Schieffelin released sixty into New York City’s Central Park as part of an ill-fated plan. Little did he know it would lead to a population explosion reaching Canada.


It’s clear the European Starling’s arrival in Canada was on purpose. It was brought in to try controlling agricultural pests, driven by economics and the environment.

Canadian officials thought this bird would help stop bugs that damage crops. But over time, it became obvious it had unforeseen and unexpected results.

The European Starling had bad effects on native birds. It quickly adapted and got nesting sites and food before them. This led to local birds decreasing in numbers, causing worry among bird lovers and conservationists.

The European Starling also had social and cultural effects. Its song was heard in cities, but it was aggressive and made a nuisance.

It’s very important for policymakers and environmental groups to learn from past blunders when introducing foreign species into ecosystems. Knowing the potential impacts on native birds must be priority one when making decisions.

As Canadians think about how the European Starling came, it’s a reminder that our actions can have lasting effects on our environment. Let’s find harmony between human needs and conservation efforts to protect natural heritage for generations to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs about how the European Starling came to Canada:

Q: Where did the European Starling originate from?

A: The European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) originally comes from Europe, specifically Western Europe.

Q: How did the European Starling end up in Canada?

A: The European Starling was intentionally introduced to North America in the late 1800s by Eugene Schieffelin, who released around 100 birds in Central Park, New York. They eventually spread and made their way to Canada.

Q: Why were European Starlings introduced to North America?

A: Eugene Schieffelin, a wealthy Shakespeare enthusiast, released the birds in an attempt to introduce all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works to North America. Unfortunately, the introduction of European Starlings had unintended consequences on native bird populations.

Q: How did European Starlings adapt to the Canadian environment?

A: European Starlings are highly adaptable birds. They can thrive in a wide range of habitats, including urban areas, farmlands, and forests. This adaptability allowed them to quickly establish populations in Canada.

Q: What impact do European Starlings have on native Canadian bird species?

A: European Starlings are considered invasive species in North America. They compete with native bird species for nesting sites and food resources, and their aggressive behavior can disrupt local ecosystems.

Q: Can the European Starling population in Canada be controlled?

A: While it is challenging to completely eradicate European Starlings, efforts can be made to manage their populations. Techniques such as nest box management and targeted culling can help mitigate their impact on native bird species.

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.