How did the European Starling get to the US?

The European Starling’s journey to the USA is an amazing tale. This pretty bird, with its gleaming black feathers and melodious song, is now a common sight. But how did it get here?

Legend says that in 1890, Eugene Schieffelin, a rich New Yorker and Shakespeare fan, released about 60 starlings into Central Park. His goal was to bring all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works to North America. Little did he know his innocent act would have such huge outcomes.

The starlings adapted and prospered in their new environment. Their awesome adaptation skills meant they could outcompete native birds for food and nesting sites. Eventually, their population grew quickly, spreading across the continent.

But what sets the European Starling apart from other introduced species is its talent for imitating sounds. They can copy not only other birds, but also human voices and musical instruments. This has made them both loved and hated by humans.

Surprisingly, recent studies show these iconic birds may have helped protect one of America’s favourite insects – the honeybee. Researchers found starling flocks often eat invasive pests that attack bee hives, helping to control their population naturally.

Background of the European Starling

The European Starling, also known as the Common Starling, is a bird native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. In 1890, Eugene Schieffelin, a member of the American Acclimatization Society, released 100 starlings in Central Park, New York City. This was part of an effort to introduce all birds mentioned in William Shakespeare’s works to North America.

The descendants of those original 100 birds multiplied rapidly. Their population spread across the U.S. Now, the European Starling is one of the most common and widespread bird species in North America.

Their adaptability and resilience are why they’ve been so successful. They can survive in harsh environments and eat a wide range of food. They’re especially abundant in agricultural areas because they help control insects.

Some people admire their vibrant plumage and melodious songs. Others consider them pests, due to their aggressive behavior and competition with native birds for nesting sites and resources.

Witnessing these adaptable creatures firsthand is captivating. Their journey from Europe to America is remarkable. See how they gracefully navigate our cities. Hear their charming symphony. It’s a testament to nature’s ability to adapt and thrive in foreign lands!

How the European Starling was introduced to the US

The European Starling’s introduction to the US is an unsolved mystery. It came from Europe and Asia and was brought to America in the 1890s by the American Acclimatization Society. Eugene Schieffelin, a member of the society, had the idea to release 100 of these birds into Central Park, New York City. He thought they’d bring beauty and melody to America’s avian population.

This clever plan had unexpected results. The European Starling multiplied and spread quickly across North America, thriving in the new environment. Their presence has had both beneficial and detrimental effects on native bird species and ecosystems.

This incredible feat was achieved by one person’s ambition and persistence. One decision made over a century ago led to the establishment of a flourishing avian population that now covers the whole continent.

According to the National Audubon Society, there are now an estimated 200 million European Starlings in North America. They’re one of the most widespread and abundant bird species in the continent.

Impact of the European Starling on the US ecosystem

The European Starling’s effect on the US ecosystem is huge. These birds were released in the late 1800s and compete with native species for resources, often winning. They are also a threat to farming crops and carry diseases that can harm other bird populations.

These birds have spread quickly across the US, causing worry for biodiversity. Their fierce behavior and ability to live in many habitats have helped them to take over, replacing native bird species in lots of areas.

Their diet includes insects, fruits, grains, and seeds, which competes with native birds such as bluebirds and woodpeckers. This alters food chains and reduces resources for other wildlife.

The European Starlings also cause economic damage. They eat fruits and grains grown by farmers, leading to losses. A flock can destroy an entire field of crops in no time.

The story of how they arrived in the US is fascinating. In the late 1800s, the American Acclimatization Society released around 100 starlings in Central Park, NYC. This was to introduce all birds in Shakespeare’s plays to North America. However, it had bad results as the starlings multiplied and spread everywhere.

Today, the European Starling is one of the most common birds in North America with an estimated population of over 200 million. Their influence on the environment and agriculture is a reminder of the importance of managing invasive species to protect native life and farming.

Attempts to control or eradicate the European Starling

Chemical repellents? Check. Natural predators & parasites? Check. Trapping & culling? Check. Reducing food sources? Check. Public awareness campaigns? Check!

It’s clear that controlling a species as adaptable and widespread as the European Starling is no easy task. Plus, other birds competing for resources only complicates matters.

Concerningly, the European Starling has been known to spread 33 infectious agents to humans, according to Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology. This is a point worth highlighting in public awareness initiatives.

Current status of the European Starling population in the US

The European Starling’s population in the US has grown significantly since it was first introduced in the late 1800s. These birds, known for their striking looks and adaptability, have made their presence felt across the country.

Several reasons can explain this growth. Firstly, they are highly adaptable and can live in different environments, including cities. This has enabled them to outcompete native birds for resources.

Secondly, human activities such as land development and agriculture have also helped the European Starling. As more land is cleared, these birds have found new habitats and food sources. They even nest in man-made structures such as buildings.

Despite their success, the increasing number of European Starlings has had a negative effect on native bird species. They can take over nesting sites and food, leading to a drop in numbers of cavity-nester birds like bluebirds.

In an example of their resourcefulness, European Starlings have been seen using bread crumbs to bait fish on a lake. This shows their ability to adjust and find creative solutions for obtaining food.

All in all, the European Starling population in the US stands out for its resilience and adaptability. While their presence may cause disruption to local ecosystems, it’s a reminder of how introduced species can interact with native wildlife.


The European Starling’s introduction to the US was sparked by an event called “Starling Release Day”. On that day in 1890, sixty Starlings were released in Central Park by a group of Shakespeare admirers. Little did they know that this act would have a huge impact on North America’s ecosystem.

The Starling’s quick adaptation to its new habitat is amazing. It is everywhere – from urban areas to rural areas. Even though some see it as a pest, its resilience and ability to thrive in different places show its adaptability.

People have tried to control the population, but the Starling continues to do well. It competes with other birds for nesting, food and territory. The ecological effects are still being studied but it’s an example of how human actions can have unexpected results.

It’s amazing that the release of the sixty Starlings has resulted in a population of over two hundred million across North America. (Source: Audubon Society). This shows the species’ adaptability and reproductive capacity. It is a warning about introducing foreign species into delicate ecosystems.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs: How Did The European Starling Get To The US

1. Q: How did the European starling first arrive in the US?

A: The European starling was intentionally introduced to the US in 1890 by a group interested in introducing all birds mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare. They released 60 starlings in New York City’s Central Park.

2. Q: Why did the European starling’s population grow so rapidly in the US?

A: The European starling is a highly adaptable bird species with a flexible diet. It found abundant food sources, nesting sites, and favorable habitats across North America, allowing its population to rapidly increase.

3. Q: Did the introduction of European starlings have any negative impact on native bird species?

A: Yes, the European starling’s aggressive behavior and competition for nesting cavities have negatively affected certain native bird species, particularly cavity-nesting birds like bluebirds and woodpeckers.

4. Q: What measures have been taken to control the European starling population in the US?

A: Various control methods have been implemented, including nestbox management, trapping, shooting, and use of repellents. However, controlling the starling population has proven challenging due to their widespread distribution and large numbers.

5. Q: Are there any benefits associated with the presence of European starlings in the US?

A: Despite their negative impacts, European starlings have some positive contributions. They help control agricultural pests by consuming large numbers of insects, and their murmurations provide captivating displays of synchronized flight.

6. Q: Can the European starling be considered an invasive species in the US?

A: Yes, the European starling is regarded as an invasive species in the US due to its rapid population growth, displacement of native species, and detrimental effects on agriculture and human structures.

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.