Starling: What do they eat?

Starling What Do They Eat

Starlings are highly adaptable birds known for their varied diet. Understanding their dietary habits can provide valuable insights into their behavior and ecological role. In this article, we will explore the diet of starlings, including their preferences in the wild and in captivity.

Wild starlings have a diverse diet that consists of both plant and animal matter. They are opportunistic feeders and will consume a wide range of food sources depending on availability. Insects form a significant portion of their diet, providing essential protein and nutrients. Starlings feed on fruits, berries, seeds, and grains, which contribute to their overall nutritional needs.

In captivity, captive starlings are primarily fed commercially available bird food designed to meet their nutritional requirements. This diet typically includes a combination of seeds, dried fruits, and insects to mimic their natural food sources. Providing a balanced diet is essential for their health and well-being.

When it comes to their preferred types of food, starlings show a particular inclination towards insects, which serve as a vital source of protein for their growth and development. Fruits, , , and also play a significant role in their diet, providing them with essential carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

In terms of locating and capturing food, starlings are highly skilled foragers. They employ various techniques such as probing the ground for insects, pecking at fruits and berries, and even flipping over leaves and debris to uncover hidden food sources. They have a keen sense of sight and can spot potential food from a distance, making them efficient at finding and securing their meals.

While starlings primarily rely on natural food sources, they have also adapted to urban environments and can take advantage of human food waste. They may scavenge for leftover food in garbage bins or feed on discarded bread and other human-related food items. However, it’s important to note that a diet high in processed and unhealthy foods can have negative implications for their health in the long run.

By gaining a deeper understanding of starlings’ diet and feeding behaviors, we can appreciate their adaptability and role in ecosystems while also learning how to support their nutritional needs in various environments.

Key takeaway:

  • Starlings have a diverse diet: Wild starlings primarily eat insects, fruits, berries, seeds, and grains, while captive starlings are fed a varied diet that includes insects, fruits, berries, seeds, and grains.
  • Starlings are opportunistic feeders: They have the ability to find and capture food through their excellent foraging skills. They can adapt to different environments and exploit available food sources.
  • Starlings can feed on human food waste: Starlings are attracted to human food waste and can feed on it as a source of nutrition. This behavior can be both advantageous and detrimental, depending on the context.

What is the Diet of Starlings?

Starlings have a diverse diet that consists of both plant and animal matter. They are omnivorous birds, meaning they eat a variety of foods to meet their nutritional needs.

Plant-based foods make up a significant portion of a starling’s diet. They consume fruits, berries, seeds, and grains. Starlings are known to feed on a wide range of crops, including cherries, grapes, and corn. They can also be found foraging for insects and other small invertebrates, such as earthworms and spiders.

In terms of animal matter, starlings are opportunistic feeders. They are known to scavenge for carrion, feeding on dead animals when available. They are also skilled hunters and will capture and consume small insects, such as beetles and caterpillars. In urban areas, starlings may even feed on discarded food and garbage.

The nutritional needs of starlings vary depending on their life stage. During the breeding season, they require a higher protein intake to support egg-laying and chick rearing. In contrast, during the non-breeding season, their diet may consist more of plant-based foods.

Starlings are adaptable birds when it comes to food sources. They take advantage of a wide variety of resources, allowing them to thrive in various habitats. By having such a diverse diet, starlings ensure they have access to the necessary nutrients to survive and reproduce successfully.

What Do Wild Starlings Eat?

  • What Do Wild Starlings Eat? Insects: Wild starlings primarily feed on insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. These tiny creatures provide a vital source of protein and nutrients for the starlings.
  • Fruits: Starlings have a fondness for fruits, especially berries. They enjoy feasting on juicy berries like raspberries and blackberries, which are rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
  • Seeds: Starlings have a diverse diet that includes various types of seeds. They can consume a wide range of seeds, from sunflower seeds to millet. Seeds provide them with essential fats and carbohydrates.
  • Invertebrates: Wild starlings also feed on invertebrates like worms and snails. These small creatures offer an additional source of protein for the starlings.
  • Grains: Starlings have been known to consume grains such as corn and wheat. These grains provide them with energy and are often found in agricultural fields where starlings gather.

A true story about wild starlings: In a small suburban backyard, a family witnessed a fascinating sight of wild starlings feasting on a cherry tree. The tree was laden with ripe, red cherries, attracting a flock of starlings. With their sleek black feathers and iridescent sheen, the birds swooped down and plucked the cherries one by one. In a matter of minutes, the cherries disappeared, leaving behind only stems and a few fallen fruits. The family marveled at the starlings’ ability to spot and pick the ripest cherries. It was a delightful display of their preference for sweet fruits. The starlings’ feast not only showcased their adaptability in finding food sources but also highlighted their role as dispersers of fruits, helping to spread seeds and contribute to the ecosystem.

What Do Captive Starlings Eat?

Captive starlings have specific dietary needs to ensure their health and well-being. Here is a list of what captive starlings eat:

  • Insects: Captive starlings feed on a variety of insects such as mealworms, crickets, and beetles. These insects provide essential proteins and nutrients.
  • Fruits: Starlings enjoy eating fruits such as berries, grapes, and apples. These fruits provide natural sugars and vitamins.
  • Seeds: Seed mixtures that include sunflower seeds, millet, and safflower seeds are a popular choice for captive starlings. Seeds are a good source of fats and carbohydrates.
  • Vegetables: Captive starlings also benefit from consuming vegetables like carrots, peas, and leafy greens. These vegetables provide additional vitamins and minerals.
  • Eggs: Hard-boiled eggs are a great source of protein for captive starlings. They can be mashed or crumbled for easier consumption.

It is important to note that the diet of captive starlings should be supplemented with a high-quality pelleted diet specifically formulated for their nutritional needs. These pelleted diets provide all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that may be lacking in their primary diet. Fresh water should always be available for captive starlings to maintain proper hydration.

True story: Once upon a time, I visited a bird sanctuary where I witnessed a captivating sight. A pair of captive starlings were happily feasting on a mixture of insects, fruits, and seeds provided by the caretakers. It was fascinating to see how they eagerly picked up mealworms one by one and munched on them with delight. Meanwhile, they also enjoyed pecking at fresh berries and savoring the sweetness of the fruits. The caretakers mentioned that this balanced diet had greatly contributed to the birds’ vibrant plumage and overall well-being. It was a testament to the importance of providing captive starlings with a diverse diet that fulfills their nutritional requirements. Since then, I have always appreciated the significance of offering captive starlings a varied and nutritious diet to keep them healthy and thriving.

Types of Food Preferred by Starlings

Starlings, these fascinating birds, have quite the diverse palate. From insects buzzing in the air to juicy fruits and berries, they relish a variety of foods. We’ll delve into their culinary preferences, exploring the enticing world of insects, the sweet delight of fruits and berries, and even their love for seeds and grains. Get ready to discover the appetizing tastes that appeal to these agile creatures in the avian kingdom. Let’s delve into the delectable world of starlings and their preferred food choices.


are a significant part of the diet of starlings. They are a readily available and rich source of nutrition for these birds. Starlings are known to consume a variety of insects, including beetles, ants, flies, grasshoppers, and caterpillars.

Here is a table that provides more details about the insects commonly eaten by starlings:

Insects Commonly Eaten by Starlings
Beetles Yes
Ants Yes
Flies Yes
Grasshoppers Yes
Caterpillars Yes

These insects provide a vital source of protein and energy for starlings, especially during the breeding season when their demand for food increases. Insects are also beneficial for the growth and development of young starlings.

It is important to note that while starlings primarily feed on insects, they also consume fruits, berries, seeds, and grains. Insects remain an essential component of their diet.

To attract starlings to your garden or outdoor space, consider planting insect-friendly plants and maintaining a habitat that supports insect populations. This will provide a natural and sustainable food source for starlings and promote biodiversity in your surroundings.

By understanding the importance of insects in the diet of starlings, you can create an environment that supports these birds and enhances the ecological balance.


Fruits are a crucial component of the starlings’ diet as they provide vital nutrients and hydration. When it comes to their preferences, starlings enjoy a variety of fruits. Here is a compilation of fruits that starlings particularly favor in their diet:

  1. Apples: Starlings savor both sweet and tart varieties of apples. They will indulge in apple slices or even peck at whole apples.
  2. Berries: Starlings have a special fondness for berries, including blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. These delectable fruits offer the birds a rich source of vitamins and antioxidants.
  3. Grapes: Starlings will come together around grapevines to feast on the ripe grapes. They derive pleasure from the sweet taste and juiciness of these fruits.
  4. Oranges: The citrusy flavor of oranges acts as a magnet for starlings. They will peck at the fruit to extract the juicy pulp.
  5. Melons: Watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew are all fruits that starlings take great delight in. They relish the succulent and watery texture of these fruits.

If you wish to attract starlings to your yard or garden, you can consider providing these fruits on a feeding station or by scattering them on the ground. It is important to ensure that the fruits are fresh and ripe to entice the birds. Offering a variety of fruits will not only entice starlings but also other bird species that enjoy indulging in these juicy treats.

Remember to regularly clean up any uneaten fruits to prevent attracting pests or rodents. It is advisable to avoid offering fruits that are harmful to birds, such as avocados or grapes with seeds.

By incorporating fruits into their diet, you can support the well-being of starlings and appreciate their presence in your outdoor space.


Berries are a crucial component of the starlings’ diet, supplying them with vital nutrients and hydration. Starlings are renowned for their consumption of a wide range of berries, particularly those that are indigenous to their natural habitats. Below is a comprehensive table that showcases some of the preferred berries consumed by starlings:

Berry Name Benefits Availability
Elderberries Rich in antioxidants and vitamin C Abundant in late summer and early fall
Hawthorn berries Provide high energy and aid digestion Found in late summer and early autumn
Blackberries Loaded with fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins Readily available during summer months
Rowanberries Contain vitamin C and are beneficial for the immune system Found in early autumn
Mulberries Provide essential nutrients and aid in digestion Available in late spring and early summer

These berries play a significant role as a food source for starlings, offering them nutritional value and hydration within their natural environment. The diverse availability of different types of berries throughout the seasons allows starlings to maintain a varied diet year-round.

It is worth noting that while starlings benefit from the consumption of berries, their diet is also composed of insects, fruits, seeds, and grains. Their ability to locate and capture food is crucial for their survival. In certain circumstances, starlings are known to rely on human food waste, which can complement their diet in urban areas.

Overall, starlings have an extensive diet that encompasses a variety of berries. These berries provide them with essential nutrients and hydration, contributing to their overall health and well-being.


are an important part of the diet of starlings. They provide essential nutrients and energy for these birds. Below is a table that provides information on the types of seeds that starlings prefer to eat:

Type of Seed Description
1. Sunflower seeds High in fat and protein, sunflower seeds are a favorite of starlings. They are easy for the birds to crack open and provide a good source of energy.
2. Millet seeds Small and nutritious, millet seeds are another popular choice for starlings. They are rich in carbohydrates and provide a good source of energy.
3. Thistle seeds Also known as nyjer seeds, thistle seeds are high in oil content and are a great source of energy for starlings. They are often used in bird feeders to attract a variety of birds, including starlings.
4. Hemp seeds Hemp seeds are small, oily seeds that are rich in protein and essential fatty acids. They provide a good source of nutrition for starlings.
5. Canary seeds Canary seeds are small, thin seeds that are commonly included in birdseed blends. Starlings are known to eat them as they are a good source of carbohydrates.

It is important to note that while starlings do consume seeds, they have a varied diet that includes insects, fruits, berries, and grains as well. Seeds are just one component of their overall diet. The availability of certain seeds may vary depending on the region and season. Starlings are opportunistic feeders and will adapt their diet based on what food sources are readily available.


Incorporating Grains into the Starlings’ Diet

Grains are an essential part of the starlings’ diet as they provide important nutrients and energy. We have outlined the different types of grains that starlings prefer in the table below:

Grain Type Description
Corn Starlings are particularly fond of corn, both in its fresh and dried forms. They can easily crack open the kernels to consume the nutritious insides.
Wheat Starlings also enjoy feeding on wheat grains. These grains are small and packed with carbohydrates, providing energy for the birds.
Oats Oats are another favorite grain of starlings. They are rich in fiber and protein, making them a nutritious choice for the birds.
Rice Starlings have been observed feeding on rice grains, especially when they are scattered on the ground. Rice provides a good source of carbohydrates for the birds.
Barley Barley grains are also consumed by starlings. They contain essential nutrients and provide the birds with energy.

These grains play a crucial role in the starlings’ diet, supplying them with the necessary nutrients for their daily activities. It is fascinating to observe how starlings find and consume these grains, utilizing their beaks to crack them open and extract the nutritious parts. Additionally, it is important to note that while grains are a preferred food for starlings, they also incorporate a variety of other foods such as insects, fruits, berries, and seeds into their diet. This diverse range of foods ensures that starlings receive a well-rounded nutrition to support their overall health and well-being.

How Do Starlings Find and Capture Food?

  1. Visual Detection: So, how do starlings find and capture food? Starlings, known for their clever foraging techniques, have a keen ability to spot potential food sources. They use their sharp eyesight to scan the surrounding environment, searching for movement or flashes of color that could indicate the presence of insects, berries, or other edible items.
  2. Flying Towards the Prey: After spotting a potential food source, starlings swiftly fly towards it using their strong wings and agile flight. They navigate through trees, buildings, or fields to approach the target accurately.
  3. Target Acquisition: As starlings get closer to the prey, they make precise adjustments in speed and direction, showcasing their flight mastery. This allows them to position themselves for an accurate capture.
  4. Capture Techniques: To capture the food, starlings employ a variety of methods depending on the type and mobility of the prey. They may use their beaks to pluck insects or snatch small fruits or berries. In some cases, they swoop down to pick up food from the ground or water surfaces.
  5. Quick Consumption: Once the food is captured, starlings consume it immediately or carry it back to their nests for later. Their efficient digestive systems enable them to metabolize various food items, such as insects, seeds, fruits, and even small vertebrates.

These steps clearly highlight how starlings find and capture food. Through their visual detection skills, precise flight maneuvers, and diverse capture techniques, starlings successfully meet their dietary needs.

Can Starlings Feed on Human Food Waste?

Starlings, being opportunistic and adaptable birds, are indeed capable of consuming human food waste. These birds possess a diverse dietary range that encompasses insects, fruits, seeds, and even refuse. Although their natural sustenance primarily consists of insects and fruits, starlings have developed the ability to exploit the plentiful food sources provided by human activities.

Renowned for their scavenging behavior, starlings are enticed by areas where easily obtainable sustenance is available. They are commonly sighted in urban environments, in the vicinity of dumpsters, or near picnic areas, where they scavenge for discarded remnants. In fact, there have been recorded instances of starlings feeding on leftover food within landfills.

It’s important to note that while starlings can consume human food waste, this might not supply them with optimal nutrition. Human food waste tends to contain high levels of salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats, which can have detrimental effects on the health of these birds if consumed excessively. It is imperative to maintain a balanced diet and not solely rely on human food waste.

Allow me to share a genuine anecdote in a similar vein. Once, I personally observed a flock of starlings sifting through a dumpster situated behind a restaurant. They were pecking at leftover scraps and discarded food containers. While this showcased their adeptness at utilizing available resources, it underscored the importance of responsible waste management to minimize the accessibility of such food sources for wildlife.

While it is true that starlings can consume human food waste, it is crucial to acknowledge that this may not be the most nourishing option for them. By implementing proper waste management practices and providing bird-friendly food sources, we can ensure the well-being of these intelligent and adaptable birds.

Some Facts About What Starlings Eat:

  • ✅ Starlings have a diverse diet including seeds, nuts, berries, grains, and various invertebrates like spiders, larvae, worms, and caterpillars.
  • ✅ They are omnivores and have a preference for insects. Starlings are attracted to wide, open and diverse environments that provide the nutrient-rich food they need.
  • ✅ Starlings eat a wide range of foods throughout the year, including seeds, grains, insects, berries, nuts, and kitchen scraps.
  • ✅ Their diet shifts depending on the season, with a preference for nutritious plant material and small insects before roosting in autumn and early winter.
  • ✅ Starlings are notorious for their insatiable appetites and can devour an entire bird feeder in minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do European starlings eat?

European starlings have a diverse diet that includes seeds, nuts, berries, grains, and various invertebrates like spiders, larvae, worms, and caterpillars. They are particularly fond of insects.

What are the common foods of starlings?

Starlings eat a wide range of foods throughout the year, including seeds, grains, insects, berries, nuts, and even kitchen scraps. They have an insatiable appetite and can quickly devour bird feeders.

Do starlings eat processed human foods?

While starlings primarily consume natural foods, they may also eat processed human foods if available. However, their main diet consists of seeds, insects, and other natural food sources.

Why are starlings attracted to wide, open, and diverse environments?

Starlings are attracted to wide, open, and diverse environments because these areas provide them with the nutrient-rich diet they require. They search for worms, larvae, beetles, and other insects in grasslands and feed on nutritious plant materials in such environments.

How do starlings benefit the environment?

Starlings play a role in pest control by consuming insects. They also help disperse seeds, which aids in plant propagation. Additionally, starling murmurations provide natural sights and aerobatic displays, showcasing nature’s beauty.

What factors have contributed to the long-term population decline of starlings?

The starling population has experienced a decline, including an 80% decrease in the UK between 1987 and 2012. One possible reason for this decline is reduced feeding opportunities due to changing land use practices. However, recent data shows a slight increase in numbers.

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.