what does the common starling eat

The common starling (Sturnus vulgaris) fascinates both ornithologists and bird-watchers. What do they eat? Let’s explore.

Starlings are omnivores. They hunt insects like beetles, flies, caterpillars, and spiders in the summer. They also eat fruits and berries. This adaptability helps them survive varying climates.

They forage in large groups called murmurations. This provides safety and increases their chances of finding food. It also gives collective exploration and identification of food sources.

Pro Tip: To attract starlings, provide mealworms, suet balls, apples, and grapes. Create a welcoming environment with nesting sites to encourage them to stay.

Background on the Common Starling

The Common Starling, Sturnus vulgaris, is a globally found bird. It has a remarkable ability to mimic the songs of other birds and even man-made sounds like car alarms or ringing phones. It’s a member of the Sturnidae family, which includes other starling species. It’s medium-sized, with a black plumage and iridescent feathers. Its yellow beak and legs add brightness.

These sociable birds form large flocks during their breeding season, creating aerial displays known as “murmurations.” They build nests in cavities in trees or buildings.

Their diet is diverse: insects, earthworms, berries, fruits, seeds, grains, and even small vertebrates like lizards or mice. They probe for food on the ground or catch insects mid-air.

The feeding habits of Common Starlings vary based on where they live. In urban areas, they prefer fruits and seeds from gardens or parks.

Importance of Understanding its Diet

Gaining insight into the diet of the common starling is key for many reasons. Such as:

  • Realizing its function as a seed spreader, pest predator, and pollinator.
  • Getting to know what they eat helps us comprehend their nesting preferences and habitats.
  • Determining how their diet affects their population size and conservation requirements.

Also, investigating the diet of this species allows us to uncover unknown facts about their behaviors and survival tactics. This knowledge could be useful for further research related to avian ecology and can help create effective conservation strategies for ensuring the survival of the common starling.

Neglecting to comprehend the diet of this species means missing out on a significant piece of data for understanding its place in our environment. By exploring their eating habits we open a world of connections between them and their surroundings. Let’s join this journey as we find out the mysterious secrets hidden behind every bite and unravel the intricate structure of nature.

General Eating Habits of the Common Starling

The eating habits of the common starling revolve around a varied diet consisting of invertebrates, berries, fruits, and seeds. They are opportunistic feeders and have been observed to consume small insects, spiders, earthworms, snails, and larvae. Their diet also includes fruits such as figs, cherries, and grapes, as well as seeds from various plants. These birds are known to forage in flocks, making their feeding behaviors more efficient and effective.

Additionally, common starlings are known to feed on agricultural crops, which has contributed to their status as both pests and beneficial birds. One interesting fact is that when starlings consume larvae, they help to control pest populations, making them natural pest controllers in some ecosystems.

Starlings have quite the sophisticated palate, from snacking on delicious insects to indulging in the occasional garbage buffet like a true connoisseur.

Feeding Behavior

Starlings, often seen, have a fascinating way of eating. Their food contains a range of things such as bugs, fruits, berries, and grains. Look at the table for a detailed look at their eating habits:

Food Type Percentage Consumed
Insects 40%
Fruits 25%
Berries 20%
Grains 15%

Interestingly, starlings are flexible in what they eat. This is due to their food changing with each season. They hunt in groups, with all of them moving together to catch their food. This helps them be successful when trying to catch bugs in the air.

To understand this amazing eating behavior, you must watch it. Seeing these birds gobble up their food is an incredible experience! So grab your binoculars and join the wonderful show!

Diet Variations

The common starling’s diet varies a lot. This is essential for understanding their behavior and effect on the environment. Check it out:

Insects make up 60%, berries 15%, seeds 10%, fruits 8%, earthworms 3%, and other 4%.

Surprisingly, insects are the main part of a starling’s diet. Berries and seeds are also important, making up 15% and 10% respectively. The rest consists of different fruits, earthworms, and other things.

Moreover, starlings can be very resourceful in hard winters. When food is scarce, they go to unusual places like dumps and cities for food. This shows their ability to cope with tough conditions.

For example, once upon a time in a small town hit by bad winter storms, the local park was full of starlings looking for food. With no food in their usual areas due to a lot of snow, they found another way. People saw them taking seeds from frozen tree cones with their beaks! This showed their strength and creativity in difficult conditions.

When we research starlings’ eating habits more, it’s obvious they are flexible. From depending on insects to coping in bad weather, they can find different sources of food to survive and reproduce.

Types of Food Common Starlings Prefer

Common Starlings, like other birds, have specific preferences for their food. These preferences can be categorized into various types of food sources that they actively seek out. Let’s explore these food categories in more detail.

To understand the types of food common starlings prefer, we can look at a table that provides insights into their dietary choices.

Type of Food Description
Insects Common starlings are known to feed on a wide variety of insects, including beetles, ants, caterpillars, and grasshoppers. Insect larvae also make up a significant part of their diet.
Fruits Starlings are attracted to various fruits, including berries, cherries, and grapes. They readily consume these fruits when available.
Seeds Common starlings have a preference for seeds, including those from sunflowers, thistles, and grasses. They can efficiently extract seeds from various plant structures.
Vegetation Starlings also consume fresh vegetation, such as young shoots, leaves, and plant buds. These provide them with essential nutrients and hydration.

While these categories cover the primary food sources preferred by common starlings, it’s important to note that they are opportunistic feeders and can adapt their diet based on availability. This adaptive nature allows them to thrive in diverse habitats.

Understanding the types of food common starlings prefer is crucial for anyone interested in creating bird-friendly environments or designing bird feeders. By providing suitable food sources, we can attract and support these fascinating creatures in our surroundings.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to witness the beauty of common starlings in your backyard or garden. Take action now by incorporating their preferred food sources and invite these remarkable birds into your life.

The starling’s insatiable appetite for insects and invertebrates makes them the ultimate creepy crawly connoisseurs, and the unfortunate victims of many six-legged funeral processions.

Insects and Invertebrates

Insects and invertebrates are essential for the diet of common starlings! They provide a diverse range of flavors and textures. Let’s explore the types these birds love to eat.

Insects Invertebrates
Beetles Earthworms
Grasshoppers Caterpillars
Ants Spiders

Beetles are sought-after for their protein content. Grasshoppers are yummy due to their crunchy texture. Ants offer a rich flavor. Caterpillars give a soft and chewy feel. Earthworms and spiders bring a unique twist with their slithery movements.

Did you know? According to the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, starlings can consume up to 14% of their body weight in just one hour! Fascinating!

Fruits and Berries

Presenting a captivating table of starlings’ top fruit and berry picks!

Type of Fruit/Berry Examples
Cherries Bing
Apples Gala
Blueberries Patriot
Grapes Concord
Oranges Valencia

But wait! There’s more! Starlings also favor blackberries and raspberries. Yum! These sweet treats provide them with sustenance and a burst of flavor.

Picture this: A flock of starlings perched on a branch near an orchard gobbling up juicy cherries. Their cheerful singing fills the air as they relish each luscious bite, unable to resist the charm of these delightful fruits.

No doubt, Fruits and Berries are irresistibly attractive to starlings. From cherries to raspberries, these birds adore the taste and goodness that nature has to offer.

Seeds and Grains

Starlings love seeds and grains! These small songbirds have a taste for nutritious and varied food. To show the kinds of seeds and grains they eat, we made a table. Here are some examples:

sunflower seeds millet
corn wheat
oats barley

These foods give them plenty of essential nutrients.

If you want starlings to visit your garden or backyard, put some of their favorite seeds and grains in your bird feeders. This way, they can enjoy a snack in a friendly environment. Planting sunflowers is another great way to attract starlings. They’ll get food and a safe place to live. Plus, you can admire these birds up close!

Seasonal Changes in the Common Starling’s Diet

The common starling’s diet changes with the seasons. Let’s look at what these birds eat throughout the year. Here’s a table of the food sources during each season:

Season Food Sources
Spring Insects, earthworms, berries, fruits
Summer Beetles, caterpillars, spiders, cherries
Autumn Berries, fruits, grains, seeds
Winter Grains, seeds, suet from bird feeders

Also, when food is scarce in winter, starlings flock together for protection and easier access to resources. An interesting fact is that in the 19th century, Shakespeare fans intentionally brought European Starlings to North America in hopes of introducing all birds mentioned in his works. Unbeknownst to them, these starlings became one of the most plentiful and adaptable species in North America.

Impact of Diet on the Common Starling’s Behavior and Health

The diet of the common starling has a huge effect on its habits and health. Knowing what these birds eat tells us a lot about their well-being.

Let’s take a look at the different types of food these birds eat. Check out this table:

Column 1: Diet Type Column 2: Behavioral Impact Column 3: Health Impact
Row 1: Insects Row 2: Feeding rates and foraging activity go up Row 3: Essential nutrients for growth and development
Row 4: Fruits and Berries Row 5: Seed dispersal; group feeding encourages socializing Row 6: Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
Row 7: Seeds and Grains Row 8: Territorial aggression decreases; flock cohesion increases Row 9: Good energy source, but may need supplementation
Row 10: Carrion (dead animals) Row 11: Reproductive success rises; survival rates go up in harsh environments Row 12: Pathogens or toxins could be present, if not handled correctly

It’s worth noting that common starlings can change their diet to match the season. This helps them survive in various environments.

To attract or feed these birds in your garden or bird feeders, you should provide a variety of food. This will give them the same diet they have in nature, and help keep them healthy.

By understanding the impact of diet on the behavior and health of common starlings, researchers and bird lovers can support their populations. Plus, we get to watch these birds in our environment!


The common starling’s diet? Insects, fruits, and seeds. Their adaptability allows for more. Beetles, ants, and caterpillars. Berries, cherries, and plant seeds. Nectar from flowers and sometimes honey from bee hives!

An interesting story: Eugene Schieffelin released European Starlings in North America, to honour Shakespeare. Now, these birds are found everywhere, eating diverse foods.

Adaptable feeders, indeed! The common starling can eat insects, fruits, seeds, nectar, and honey.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What do common starlings eat?

Common starlings are omnivorous birds and have a diverse diet. They mainly feed on insects during the breeding season, including beetles, ants, grasshoppers, and termites.

2. Do common starlings eat fruits?

Yes, common starlings also consume fruits, especially during the non-breeding season. They feed on a variety of berries, figs, and other soft fruits available in their habitat.

3. Are common starlings known to eat seeds?

While insects and fruits constitute a significant part of their diet, common starlings do eat seeds as well. They readily consume different types of seeds, including grains, grass seeds, and weed seeds.

4. Do common starlings eat small vertebrates?

Although rare, common starlings have been observed preying on small vertebrates such as lizards, small rodents, and nestling birds. However, this behavior is not as common as their insect and fruit consumption.

5. What other food sources do common starlings exploit?

Common starlings are opportunistic feeders and often exploit human-related food sources. They can scavenge in garbage dumps, feed on leftover food from picnics, and even visit bird feeders for supplementary feeding.

6. Can common starlings cause damage to crops?

Yes, common starlings are known to cause damage to agricultural crops, especially fruit orchards. Large flocks of starlings can consume significant quantities of fruit, leading to economic losses for farmers.

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.