What do European Starlings eat?

European Starlings, also known as Sturnus vulgaris, are remarkable creatures. On average, they’re 7-8 inches in size. They have an omnivorous diet and can adjust to different environments. During breeding season, they mainly eat insects. But, in the wintertime, they feast upon fruits, seeds, and grains.

Thanks to their strong beaks, they can easily snatch up insects like beetles, caterpillars, and spiders. They also have a taste for vegetarian options such as berries, cherries, apples, and pears. Plus, they use their intelligence to uncover hidden seeds from trees and plants.

In fact, they’ve been seen using tools like twigs or pebbles to access food sources that would be otherwise unreachable. This makes them quite special compared to other birds.

Did you know European Starlings have a positive effect on agriculture? According to a Cornell Lab of Ornithology study from 2019, these birds consume lots of pests like grasshoppers and beetles throughout the year. This helps manage pests and aids farmers.

Understanding the European Starling

European Starlings, or Sturnus vulgaris, are part of the starling family. Measuring 19 centimeters in length and having a wingspan of 37 centimeters, they are medium-sized birds. They are highly adaptable and intelligent. Their ability to mimic sounds and even songs is well-known.

They have a unique communal roosting behavior. Thousands or millions of them come together for winter nights, creating impressive aerial displays known as murmurations. This synchronized movement forms amazing patterns in the sky, showing their excellent coordination.

These birds also have an important role in the environment. They primarily feed on insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, and spiders. During breeding season, their diet expands to include fruits, berries, and seeds from various plants.

The National Audubon Society’s Field Guide to North American Birds (Eastern Region) states that Eugene Schieffelin introduced European Starlings into North America in 1890. He wanted to bring every bird mentioned in Shakespeare’s works to the United States. This caused the arrival of a non-native species, which has had both positive and negative effects on local ecosystems.

Dietary Habits of European Starlings

European Starlings have diverse dietary habits. They eat both plants and animals, and they adapt to their environment. Here’s a table of their main meals:

Food Type Examples
Insects Beetles, ants
Earthworms Garden variety
Berries Blueberries, cherries
Grains Wheat, barley
Seeds Sunflower seeds

Starlings have a special way of getting food. They steal it from other birds. This helps them get food they couldn’t get before.

Pro Tip: If you want Starlings in your yard, offer food like suet, mealworms, and peanut butter in bird feeders. Make sure the feeders are for different kinds of birds.

Common Food Sources for European Starlings

European Starlings are opportunistic feeders, taking advantage of whatever food is available. They eat a range of things, from insects to fruits, seeds, and even garbage.

Insects such as beetles, caterpillars, and grasshoppers, fruits like cherries, grapes, and apples, seeds like sunflower seeds and millet, berries such as elderberries and blackberries, and scraps of human food are all common food sources for European Starlings. Plus, they have been known to consume small vertebrates like frogs and lizards.

These birds also have unique foraging habits. They follow other bird species to locate food, allowing them to access different types of food that they may not have found on their own.

If you want to attract European Starlings to your bird feeder, offer them sunflower seeds or suet pellets. They love these foods!

Attracting European Starlings to Your Backyard

If you want to attract European Starlings to your backyard, there are some tips to follow:

  1. Make sure the habitat is suitable. Put birdhouses or nesting boxes up to encourage them to stay. Plant berry-producing trees and shrubs too, for a food source.
  2. Provide a varied diet. Offer both seeds and insects in your feeders. Suet cakes and mealworms will be especially appealing.
  3. Include water features, like birdbaths and small ponds. Keep it clean and fresh.
  4. Lastly, make sure it’s safe. Don’t use pesticides or herbicides. Keep cats indoors or supervised, so they don’t hunt the birds.

Follow these steps and you can make your backyard an inviting home for European Starlings. Enjoy the beauty and vitality they bring!

Addressing Potential Problems with European Starlings

When European Starlings cause trouble, here’s what to do:

  • Install netting or spikes to stop them from roosting.
  • Keep garbage cans sealed and bird feeders designed to discourage starlings.
  • Use audio devices that play distress calls or alarm sounds.
  • Hang reflective objects or predator decoys near problem areas.
  • If the problem persists, consult pest control companies for help.

It’s key to stay aware and adjust as needed. Plus, connect with local people and spread awareness of the issues.

Did you know? A group of enthusiasts once tried to bring all the birds from Shakespeare’s works to North America – including European Starlings!

Conservation Efforts and European Starlings

Conservation attempts are key for protecting European Starlings and keeping their habitats safe. Let’s explore the initiatives to preserve this bird species.

To learn about the conservation efforts regarding European Starlings, it is necessary to look at the strategies for their protection. Here is a table with info about the conservation efforts, their objectives, and their results:

Efforts Objectives Results
Habitat Preservation Protecting natural habitats Population & biodiversity increases
Predation Control Managing predator populations Lower predation risks
Breeding Programs Captive breeding & release programs Enhances genetic diversity
Environmental Education Raising awareness & conservation needs Encourages public involvement

Habitat preservation is an important foundation of European Starling conservation. Predation control is also key for reducing risks from natural predators. Breeding programs help boost genetic diversity. Environmental education initiatives have encouraged public involvement and raised awareness for conserving these birds.

Remember that local communities’ active participation and support are key factors in successful conservation. By taking responsibility for our environment and its creatures, we can guarantee a sustainable future for European Starlings and other endangered species.


European Starlings are opportunistic omnivores, eating many different foods. These include fruits, berries, insects, worms, spiders, small reptiles, and even tiny mammals. In urban areas, they search trash bins for food and human leftovers. Also, they consume agricultural crops such as grains and seeds.

These birds forage in groups or flocks. This helps them locate food quickly and gives protection from predators. They use their bills to search the ground for insects and larvae hidden in leaf litter.

European Starlings can imitate the songs of other birds. This helps them fit in and become dominant in their social groups.

The National Audubon Society says humans introduced European Starlings to North America in the 19th century. Now, they are very common and widespread across the continent.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What do European starlings eat?

European starlings are omnivorous birds that have a varied diet. They primarily feed on insects, such as beetles, grasshoppers, and earthworms. However, they also consume fruits, berries, seeds, and grains. These resourceful birds are known to scavenge for food in urban areas, feeding on human leftovers, garbage, and even pet food.

2. Are European starlings harmful to crops?

European starlings can be harmful to crops, especially in large numbers. They often feed on agricultural fields, consuming grains, fruits, and vegetables. Their flocking behavior can result in significant damage to crops, leading to economic losses for farmers. Therefore, managing their population and implementing protective measures is crucial for minimizing crop damage.

3. Do European starlings eat other birds’ eggs?

Yes, European starlings are known to feed on other birds’ eggs. They have been observed raiding the nests of native cavity-nesting birds, such as bluebirds and woodpeckers, and consuming their eggs. This behavior competes with native species and can negatively impact their populations, making them a threat to biodiversity.

4. Can European starlings eat pet food?

Yes, European starlings can eat pet food. Their opportunistic nature leads them to scavenge for food in various environments, including residential areas. If left outside, pet food can attract starlings, as they are not picky eaters. To prevent this, it is best to feed pets indoors or remove any uneaten food from outdoor areas.

5. Are European starlings beneficial to the environment?

While European starlings may have some ecological benefits, such as controlling insect populations, their negative impacts often outweigh the positives. Their aggressive behavior towards native birds, displacement of cavity-nesting species, and crop damage make them a nuisance in many areas. Additionally, their large flocks can create sanitation issues due to droppings.

6. How can I prevent European starlings from feeding in my garden?

To deter European starlings from feeding in your garden, you can take several measures. Using bird feeders with specific designs that make it difficult for larger birds to access the food can help. Additionally, keeping the area clean and removing any potential food sources, such as fallen fruits or uncovered garbage, can discourage their presence. Installing scare devices or netting may also provide some protection.

Julian Goldie - Owner of ChiperBirds.com

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.