what does starling eat

Starlings are captivating creatures! They eat a range of grub to survive, from creepy-crawlies and fruits to grains and even small vertebrates. They change their feeding habits to fit their environment, which makes them very adaptable.

Insects are a major part of the starling’s diet. They eat beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and other tiny arthropods. In addition to insects, starlings like eating fruit like berries and grapes. They have a soft spot for fruit trees and can damage orchards.

Starlings can adjust their food preferences based on the season. When bugs are scarce in colder months, they mostly eat seeds and grains. Their beaks are perfect for cracking hard seed shells.

Pro Tip: To invite starlings to your garden or yard, put up bird feeders with a mix of fruit, seeds, and suet cakes. This will give them diverse and nutritious food while adding beauty and life to your outdoor space.

Overview of Starlings

Starlings: A Comprehensive Overview

Starlings, commonly known as passerine birds, belong to the family Sturnidae. These birds are renowned for their exceptional vocal abilities and unique flight patterns. With a short and stout body, starlings exhibit a remarkable range of plumage variations.


Starling Species Average Size Native Habitat Diet
Common Starling 19-22 cm Europe, Asia, Northern Africa Insects, fruits, berries, and seeds
Brahminy Starling 24 cm India, Southeast Asia Fruits, nectar, and insects
Superb Starling 18-20 cm East Africa Insects, seeds, fruits
European Starling 20-22 cm Eurasia, North America, Australia Insects, berries, grains
Chestnut-tailed Starling 20 cm Southeast Asia Fruits, seeds, nectar

Starlings possess a diverse diet, consisting primarily of insects, fruits, berries, and seeds. This adaptability allows them to thrive in various environments, from grasslands to woodlands. Their foraging behavior is characterized by hopping, pecking, and probing into the soil or vegetation to uncover their food sources.

Moreover, starlings are known for their ability to mimic other bird calls and even human sounds. These vocalizations play an essential role in communication and mate attraction within their social groups.

Interestingly, research conducted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has highlighted an intriguing fact about starlings. These birds have the remarkable ability to recognize individuals through their unique vocalizations, contributing to their complex social interactions.

Starlings may be small, but their appetite is bigger than the black hole they have for a soul.

Description of Starlings

Starlings are members of the Sturnidae family, famous for their remarkable features and behavior. They have glossy black feathers with a dazzling sheen, making them eye-catching. Plus, they produce a range of melodious calls and songs, and can even mimic other birds and human sounds!

Moreover, they’re renowned for their stunning flocking maneuvers, where millions fly together in harmony. These birds are omnivorous, consuming fruits, seeds, bugs, and tiny vertebrates. And during breeding, many starlings migrate across continents in search of nesting spots or food.

They’ve got other impressive qualities too. For example, they can solve complex problems and show intelligence in many situations. Also, watching their intricate courtship rituals is entrancing.

If you want to attract starlings to your garden, you can provide food sources, like feeders filled with seeds or mealworms. Additionally, nest boxes and suitable nesting material can entice them to breed.

Start today, and make a habitat suitable for these attractive birds! You’ll get to relish their beauty while helping their conservation.

Habitat and Distribution

Starlings are extremely widespread. They can be found in forests, grasslands, cities, and even deserts! To get an idea of their habitats, check out this table:

Habitat Distribution
Forests North America, Europe, Asia
Grasslands Africa, Australia
Urban areas Cities worldwide
Deserts Middle East, North Africa

Starlings are incredibly adaptable, which lets them survive in many places. Additionally, they can imitate a variety of sounds, like human speech and other bird calls. This makes them great communicators!

An amazing example of their adaptability happened in the early 1890s. Eugene Schieffelin released around 60 European starlings into New York City’s Central Park. This led to a massive increase in the starling population all across North America. They adapted so well that there are now millions of them!

Starlings show their adaptability and ability to thrive even in unfamiliar territories.

Diet of Starlings

Starlings’ Dietary Habits

Starlings are omnivorous birds, known to have a diverse and varied diet. They feed on a wide range of foods including insects, fruits, berries, seeds, and even small vertebrates. They are adaptable foragers and have the ability to exploit various food sources, making them successful in different habitats.


Food Source Examples
Insects Beetles, ants, butterflies
Fruits Berries, grapes, cherries
Seeds Sunflower seeds, millet
Small Vertebrates Mice, lizards, frogs

Starlings also exhibit a preference for consuming agricultural crops such as cherries, grapes, and strawberries. This behavior often leads to conflicts with farmers, as they can cause significant damage to crops. Additionally, they are known to scavenge for food in urban areas, taking advantage of human leftovers and garbage bins.

Interestingly, starlings have shown the ability to recognize and exploit bird feeders, where they can access a steady supply of seeds. This behavior has made them a common sight in backyard bird feeding stations.

Did you know that starlings were introduced to North America by Eugene Schieffelin, who released 60 European starlings in New York City’s Central Park in 1890? Today, they have become one of the most abundant bird species in North America.

The starling’s natural diet: a buffet of earthly delights fit for a feathered gourmet.

Natural Diet

Starlings captivate us with their aerial shows and melodious music. But their diet is just as intriguing! Here are five essential elements of the starling’s feast:

  1. Fruit – Berries, apples and other juicy fruits provide starlings with vital vitamins and nutrients.
  2. Insects – Starlings nimbly snatch beetles, ants and caterpillars on the wing!
  3. Seeds – Grasses and weeds are a favorite. Starlings skillfully extract nourishment from each tiny shell.
  4. Nectar – Some starlings even sip sweet nectar, while pollinating plants!
  5. Earthworms – A staple delicacy for these birds. They use their beaks to unearth wriggling morsels from the soil.

These creatures are super adaptable, often incorporating other food sources. To better their diet, try these tips:

  • Provide a variety of fruits throughout the seasons.
  • Plant insect-attracting flowers to give starlings a snack on the wing.
  • Grow wildflowers with seedheads, to supplement their foraging.
  • Install bird feeders with high-quality seed mixes.
  • Create small ponds and water features, attracting earthworms for extra protein.

By providing these options, we can help starlings flourish in the ecosystem!

Common Food Sources

Starlings have an assortment of food sources to keep them healthy and energized. This includes insects, fruits, grains, and seeds. Here is a table with some of their common foods:

Food Source Description
Insects Beetles, caterpillars, and ants are some of the insects starlings eat. They hunt them on the ground or in trees.
Fruits Starlings enjoy berries, cherries, and figs due to their sweet taste and vibrant colors.
Grains Starlings get essential carbs from wheat, barley, oats, and corn.
Seeds Sunflower seeds, millet, and hemp seeds are all on the menu. It’s fun to watch them crack the shells with their beaks!

Plus, they also like small vertebrates like lizards and frogs. To make sure they get all the nutrients they need, they eat a variety of food. Depending on where they live, their meals may change.

Keep an eye out for starlings! They are amazing birds that can find food in different places. You’ll be amazed by their adaptability!

Eating Habits

Starlings have a diet that makes them stand out from other birds. They enjoy a variety of food sources. Check out the table to learn about their eating habits!

Food Type Frequency Quantity
Insects Daily Lots
Fruits Occasionally A bit
Berries Regularly Some

Insects are the starlings’ go-to, but they also like fruits and berries. The smaller amounts give them extra nutrition.

Pro Tip: To attract starlings to your yard, offer a mix of insects, fruits, and berries.

Benefits and Impact on the Environment

In regards to the topic at hand, the positive impacts and effects on the environment brought about by the starling’s dietary habits can be discussed. Through observing the starling’s eating patterns, it becomes evident that its presence contributes to several benefits.

  • Effective Pest Control: The starling’s diet mainly consists of insects, which directly contributes to the control of pests. In agricultural areas, this proves to be particularly advantageous as it helps in reducing crop damage caused by insects.
  • Ecosystem Balance: By preying on insects, the starling plays a pivotal role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem. It helps control insect populations, preventing them from becoming detrimental to plant life and other organisms in the environment.
  • Seed Dispersion: Another positive impact of the starling’s diet is its ability to disperse seeds. Through consuming fruits and berries, the starling aids in seed distribution across different areas, contributing to the biodiversity and regeneration of vegetation.
  • Conserving Resources: The starling’s insect-focused diet indirectly benefits the environment by reducing the need for synthetic pesticides. This conservation of resources promotes a more sustainable approach to pest control, minimizing the negative effects of chemicals on the environment.

Furthermore, it is important to note that starlings also provide unique contributions to their habitats through their nesting behaviors and social interaction patterns. Their ability to adapt and thrive in various environments showcases their resilience and significance in maintaining ecosystem stability.

Considering the information presented, it is clear that the starling’s food preferences and ecological role greatly benefit the environment. To fully appreciate and understand the impact of this small bird, it is crucial to recognize its significance within the intricate web of interconnected species and resources.

Therefore, it is imperative to appreciate the critical role starlings play in maintaining the delicate balance of our environment. By supporting their presence and fostering biodiversity, we can contribute to the preservation and sustainability of our ecosystems, ensuring a harmonious and thriving planet for generations to come.

Starlings have a vital role in seed dispersal, helping plants spread their love (and their seeds) one dropping at a time.

Role in Seed Dispersal

Seed dispersal is essential for plant survival and diversification. Animals, wind, water, and gravity all help disperse seeds. Here are some details:

  1. Animals: Birds, mammals, and insects can carry away seeds via their eating habits. The seed can germinate in new areas.
  2. Wind: Certain plants release lightweight seeds that get carried away by the wind over long distances.
  3. Water: Aquatic plants rely on water to transport seeds downstream.
  4. Mechanical Dispersal: Burrs attach to animals and travel with them to other places.
  5. Gravity: Heavy seeds drop from parent plants and settle nearby.
  6. Human Intervention: People spread seeds through activities such as farming, gardening, and horticulture.

Plus, ants move certain seeds to their nests.

Pro Tip: To optimize natural seed dispersal, use native plants that attract animals. This way, you don’t have to intervene.

Impact on Agricultural Crops

Agricultural crops can have a big effect on our food production and the environment. Let’s see how:

  • Corn (Maize): Increased yield, but not sustainable practices or biodiversity conservation.
  • Wheat: Improved yield, sustainable practices, and biodiversity conservation.
  • Rice: Increased yield, but not sustainable practices nor biodiversity conservation.

Bad agricultural practices can damage soil quality, leading to erosion and farmland degradation. This can be a long-term issue for crop production.

Let me share a real-life example. In a farming town, farmers used cover crops as part of their rotation. This improved soil health and gave higher yields, plus reduced reliance on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

Ways to Attract Starlings to Your Yard

To entice Starlings to your yard, follow these steps:

  1. Provide food: Fill bird feeders with suet, mealworms, and sunflower seeds.
  2. Offer water: Place a birdbath or shallow dish of water.
  3. Provide nesting sites: Install birdhouses with small entrance holes.
  4. Create cover: Plant trees and shrubs to provide hiding places.

In addition, keep in mind that Starlings are attracted to areas with a mix of open spaces and trees. By creating a diverse habitat in your yard, you can increase the chances of attracting these birds.

Avid birdwatcher, Jane, shared her experience of successfully attracting Starlings to her yard by strategically placing bird feeders near dense shrubs. She observed the Starlings enjoying their meals while feeling safe and protected.

Feeding a starling the wrong food is like inviting a seagull to a fancy dinner party, expect chaos and a whole lot of bird droppings.

Providing the Right Food

To attract starlings to your yard, giving them the right food is essential. Here are some tips:

  • Offer fruits like berries and grapes.
  • Give grains like oats and corn.
  • Put mealworms in the bird feeder – they love them!
  • Plant trees or shrubs bearing fruits or nuts like mulberries and oaks.
  • Install suet feeders to give them high-energy fatty foods.
  • Don’t use pesticides to prevent contaminating their food.

Don’t forget to provide water! A birdbath or shallow basin with fresh water will make them happy.

Did you know? Ancient Romans believed feeding starlings brought good luck. Even rich people kept them as pets and taught them to mimic human speech! Today, this tradition of feeding and appreciating starlings continues.

Creating Nesting Sites

Want starlings in your yard? Do these things!

  1. Put birdhouses with 1.5 inch entry holes at least 10 feet up and facing away from the wind.
  2. Scatter sticks, twigs, and dry grass to give starlings materials for their nests.
  3. Add a birdbath or pond with water for them to drink and bathe in.
  4. Also, plant dense shrubs and trees for protection.

Starlings are cavity nesters, so birdhouses are key. The right size entry hole keeps out predators and larger birds. Natural materials let them create cozy nests. By providing these nesting sites, you can attract starlings and enjoy their presence!

Offering Water Sources

Create a starling-friendly yard! Install a birdbath with textured surfaces. Place a dripping faucet or use a drip irrigation system near feeding spots. Construct a small, natural-looking pond with rocks and vegetation. Add floating objects to imitate habitats. Invest in a solar-powered fountain for continuous motion. Enjoy the beauty and melodies of these birds in your yard – start offering water sources today!


The starling has an array of foods in its diet. These include insects, fruits, seeds, lizards, frogs, and even garbage! They are known for their opportunistic nature, scavenging food from other birds and even following cattle to feed on the insects stirred up. Starlings are highly adaptive and can live in both urban and rural areas.

They are famous mimics, able to imitate the songs and sounds of other birds. This helps them attract mates and maintain their territory. In winter, they gather in large flocks for warmth and to share food sources.

In the late 19th century, the American Acclimatization Society released 60 European starlings into Central Park in NYC. This population rapidly spread across America, competing with native birds for resources.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does a starling eat?

A starling’s diet primarily consists of insects, berries, fruits, and seeds.

2. Do starlings eat bird eggs?

Yes, starlings are known to raid the nests of other birds and eat their eggs.

3. Can starlings eat pet food?

Starlings can occasionally eat pet food if it is left outdoors, but it is not their main source of food.

4. What do baby starlings eat?

Baby starlings are fed a diet of insects, worms, and regurgitated food by their parents.

5. Are starlings attracted to bird feeders?

Yes, starlings can be attracted to bird feeders that contain seeds or suet, but they may dominate and scare away smaller birds.

6. Can starlings eat human food?

Starlings can scavenge for human food in urban areas, but it is not a significant portion of their diet.

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.