What Does The European Starling Eat?

European Starlings are known for their intelligence and adaptability. They eat a diverse diet, including plant and animal matter; they are opportunistic omnivores. Their primary food is insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, and spiders which they snatch with their sharp beaks from the air or the ground. Moreover, they eat fruits, berries, and seeds, and sometimes even agricultural crops.

Besides, they have been seen eating carrion, dead animal flesh. They scavenge for carcasses left behind by larger animals or feed on roadkill. They use their resourcefulness to find food anywhere.

In urban environments, European Starlings take advantage of humans by searching through trash cans and landfills for discarded food. This makes them successful in establishing large populations across Europe and other parts of the world.

The Audubon Society reports that European Starlings consume around 1 billion pounds of insects annually in North America. They are helpful in controlling pest populations and maintaining ecological balance.

Overview of the European Starling

The European Starling is a captivating creature, renowned for its intelligence and remarkable ability to mimic sounds. It boasts a length of about 20 centimeters and a wingspan of approximately 37 centimeters. In sunlight, its black feathers shimmer with a metallic green sheen. During the breeding season, adult males develop white speckles on their heads and chests.

These birds are highly social, often gathering in large flocks during migration or while roosting. They display complex courtship rituals, performing synchronized flight patterns in beautiful unison. Plus, their versatile diet allows them to consume a wide array of food items, ranging from insects to small vertebrates.

Originally native to Europe and Asia, the European Starling has succeeded in establishing populations in numerous other regions. It can survive in diverse climates, from temperate to subtropical zones. This bird was introduced into North America by Eugene Schieffelin in the late 19th century as part of his attempt to introduce all birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works to Central Park in New York City. Sadly, only the European Starling flourished after several releases.

Importance of understanding the diet of European Starlings

Comprehending the diet of European Starlings is essential. It gives insight into their ecological role and helps to manage potential conflicts. Experts can devise successful strategies to regulate their population and reduce damage caused by them by understanding their food preferences.

European Starlings consume a variety of food items including insects, fruits, seeds, and small vertebrates. They are opportunistic feeders and can adjust to different habitats, allowing them to take advantage of available food sources. In the breeding season, insects are a considerable part of their diet due to the high protein content. During winter, when insects are absent, they consume more fruits and seeds.

European Starlings possess the special capability to forage in large groups known as murmurations. This behavior enables them to detect food more rapidly and offers protection against predators. Knowing the dynamics of these murmurations can provide useful information about how starlings find and consume their preferred food items.

Pro Tip: To draw European Starlings away from vulnerable areas such as agricultural fields or gardens, offering alternative feeding alternatives like suet or mealworm feeders can help divert their attention and reduce crop destruction.

Natural diet of European Starlings

European Starlings have a large variety of food that they enjoy! Fruits like apples, cherries, grapes and figs. Berries like raspberries, blackberries and elderberries. Insects like earthworms, beetles, ants and caterpillars. Plus, seeds, grains and even garbage!

During breeding season, when they need more protein, they focus mainly on insects. In rural areas, they love to feast on insect life or fallen fruit in orchards.

One eyewitness account tells the story of a farmer who noticed starlings near his vineyard. He was worried about damage, but the starlings were actually eating the overripe grapes! This made the farmer adjust his harvesting techniques – showing the adaptable nature of these birds.

Impact of European Starlings on agricultural crops

European Starlings have a big effect on farm crops. Known for their huge appetite, these birds can cause destruction due to their great population and eating habits. They love fruits, grains, and bugs, making them a serious threat to farmers.

The birds’ ability to gather in large flocks is an important problem. When they come to a farm area, the effects can be terrible. They eat a lot of the crops, leaving farmers with fewer harvests and money losses. Also, the large number of starlings causes physical damage when they trample plants to look for food.

The starlings’ eating habits can lead to long-term problems for crops. They eat anything, from berries, cherries, grains, and seeds. Besides eating valuable produce, they spread weed seeds through their droppings. This makes things harder for farmers.

Several plans have been made to lessen the starlings’ effects on crops. One story stands out. In a small French farming town, some farmers tried using scare tactics and sound deterrents to scare off the birds. It was successful at first, but the starlings soon got used to it and came back in more numbers.

In short, the European Starlings’ impact on farm crops is huge. Their ability to consume lots of produce and their adaptable nature are difficult problems for farmers around the world. People are still looking for solutions that keep crop yields high while reducing harm caused by these invasive birds.

Human interactions and feeding habits of European Starlings

European Starlings are quite the opportunists when it comes to their diet. They consume a wide range of food items such as fruits, berries, seeds, insects and even garbage. This can lead to conflicts with humans.

They feed at bird feeders and steal food intended for other bird species. Plus, they scavenge for food in urban areas, like trash cans and dumpsters. This behavior isn’t just disruptive but can also spread diseases.

To illustrate their dietary preferences, here’s a summarizing table:

Food Item Consumption Rate
Fruits High
Berries Moderate
Seeds High
Insects High
Garbage Medium

European Starlings have adapted well to urban environments and are often seen near people. This is due to their ability to exploit various food sources.

Another interesting detail of theirs is their skill to mimic sounds and calls of other bird species. This vocal mimicry even extends to imitating human sounds, making them capable of producing unusual noises.

The American Acclimatization Society introduced European Starlings to North America in the late 19th century. The goal was to introduce all birds mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare. As a result, the population spread across North America and established itself.

European Starlings are fascinating creatures with an impressive ability to adapt. To prevent conflicts with humans, it is important to manage their population and discourage certain behaviors. Understanding their dietary preferences can help in minimizing their impact.

Potential benefits and drawbacks of European Starlings’ diet

European Starlings have a distinctive diet offering benefits and drawbacks. They eat a broad array of food, including bugs, fruits, seeds, and scraps. This adaptable diet enables them to do well in a range of habitats and take advantage of existing resources.


  • Their appetite for insects helps control populations of pests, like beetles and grasshoppers, making them useful for farmers and gardeners.
  • Their eating of fruits helps in seed dispersal, assisting in plant reproduction and ecosystem variety.
  • Scavenging for scraps in urban areas helps reduce waste and keep cleanliness.


  • Competition with native bird types for resources like nesting sites and food sources, which can hurt the survival and reproduction of other birds.
  • Their liking for certain fruit crops can lead to economic losses for farmers who depend on these crops for income.


European Starlings have an exceptional capacity to adjust their diet to changing conditions. This flexibility allows them to take advantage of new food sources when needed, increasing their chances of survival even in difficult circumstances.

Pro Tip: By feeding birds with an assortment of food, you can entice different bird species while decreasing competition among them.


Starlings have a varied diet. Insects, fruits, seeds and garbage are all part of it. They are great at finding food, as they’re opportunistic feeders and often forage in groups. During certain seasons, they show a preference for fruit-bearing plants.

Seeing as starlings are so adaptable, it’s important to be aware of the potential implications of their eating habits. We must pay close attention and take action to stop any negative effects they may have on native species or crops.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does a European starling eat?

European starlings have a diverse diet. They primarily feed on insects, such as beetles, caterpillars, and grasshoppers. They also eat fruits, berries, seeds, grains, and even small vertebrates like lizards or mice.

2. Do European starlings eat bird eggs?

Yes, European starlings are known to eat the eggs of other bird species. They can be a threat to the nesting success of native birds as they enter their nests and consume their eggs.

3. Are European starlings attracted to bird feeders?

Yes, European starlings are attracted to bird feeders. They particularly enjoy suet, grains, and black oil sunflower seeds. However, their large numbers and aggressive behavior may deter smaller birds from visiting the feeders.

4. Do European starlings eat agricultural crops?

European starlings can be agricultural pests as they consume various crops, including cherries, grapes, apples, and corn. Their feeding habits can damage fruit and grain crops, leading to significant economic losses for farmers.

5. Can European starlings eat from garbage or trash bins?

Yes, European starlings are opportunistic feeders and will scavenge for food in garbage or trash bins. They are known to consume leftover human food, including bread, scraps, and discarded snacks.

6. Are European starlings beneficial or harmful to the environment?

European starlings have both beneficial and harmful impacts on the environment. While they help control insect populations, their aggressive behavior and competition for nest sites can negatively affect native bird species. Their feeding habits can also damage agricultural crops.

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.