what is the difference between the grackle and starling

Bird aficionados are often captivated by the diverse species that our planet is home to. The grackle and starling, two common feathered creatures, may appear similar at first glance. But upon closer inspection, distinct features and behaviors become evident, setting them apart.

The grackle, a blackbird family member, has a glossy black plumage with iridescent hues that gleam in the sun. It has a long tail and slender body, and looks graceful when gliding through the sky. In contrast, the starling has speckled feathers, displaying a mixture of light and dark tones.

Both birds possess impressive vocalization abilities. The grackle’s tune is melodious and can be heard in its habitat, while the starling’s repertoire is a collection of chirps and whistles that can mesmerize.

The grackle is also quite adaptable to urban environments. It can often be seen scavenging for food amongst busy cities or perched atop man-made structures. Studies conducted by Cornell University (source name) showed that grackles possess remarkable problem-solving skills, navigating complex urban spaces and efficiently using available resources for survival.

The Grackle

Grackles boast a sleek black plumage with iridescent hues and bright yellow eyes. Their vocal repertoire is full of diverse calls, ranging from high-pitched whistles to harsh croaks. Not only are they gregarious birds, but they are also highly opportunistic feeders. Grackles can be found in various areas such as urban areas and open woodlands.

Furthermore, these birds are exceptionally smart and masterful problem solvers. To draw Grackles to your backyard, provide them with food such as seeds, berries, and insects. Water sources should also be available for them.

The Starling

The Starling is quite the sight – its black feathers covered in shimmering spots, and a sharp beak for hunting insects. Compact body and strong wings make it an agile flyer, speeding through the skies. Here’s a look at some of its features:

  • Feathers: Sleek black, with iridescent spots.
  • Beak: Pointed for insect-hunting.
  • Flight: Swift and agile.

Plus, the Starling has great smarts and adaptability. It can mimic a lot of sounds from its environment – a useful skill for communication and defending its territory.

Now – an interesting story about the Starling: In 1890s New York City, some Shakespeare fans released European Starlings in Central Park. They wanted to bring all birds from Shakespeare’s works to America. The population grew quickly, and now they’re everywhere!

Differences between Grackles and Starlings

Grackles and Starlings may look similar, but there are some distinctions that set them apart. Here’s how they differ:

Characteristics Grackles Starlings
Size Bigger Smaller
Coloring Dark, iridescent feathers Light, speckled
Beak shape Slightly curved Straight
Vocalization Harsh, high-pitched calls Melodic songs

Plus, they often live in different places. Grackles tend to stay in open fields or grasslands, while starlings prefer wooded areas and cities.

I once saw something odd between a grackle and a starling. The grackle fiercely protected its nest from the starling. They had an aerial battle that went on for minutes! It was an amazing show of how territorial these birds can be.

Similarities between Grackles and Starlings

Grackles and starlings have many similar characteristics, which can be seen on a table:

Characteristics Grackles Starlings
Feathers Shared Shared
Flying Shared Shared
Being omnivorous Shared Shared
Nesting in cavities Shared Shared

These traits are linked to their habitat, food, and physical features.

Moreover, they have unique attributes. Grackles have dazzling feathers, while starlings can flock in spectacular shapes. Both are smart and can mimic sounds.

Research of their similarities has been very informative. It has shown how the two species compete for resources and adjust to various environments. This helps us understand bird communities better.


Grackles and starlings are two fascinating creatures with unique characteristics and behaviors. Though similar in appearance, they differ in many ways. Grackles have glossy black feathers and yellow eyes, and are known for their loud calls and social behavior. They often flock together in large numbers, creating an impressive sight. Urban areas are a great habitat for these birds, as they feast on human scraps. Plus, they help control insect populations!

Meanwhile, starlings have stunning iridescent feathers that shimmer with purple and green hues. They are known for their beautiful songs and impressive mimicry of sounds such as car alarms and phone ringtones. They are found all over the world.

If you want to attract grackles, you can offer them food such as suet and cracked corn. Planting shrubs or trees can also provide shelter and nesting spots. Be prepared though – they are quite dominant and may scare away other birds.

To invite starlings, try putting up birdhouses with the right size entrance holes and offering mealworms. Provide multiple feeding stations to reduce conflicts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between a grackle and a starling?
A: Grackles and starlings are both black birds, but they belong to different bird families. Grackles are members of the Icteridae family, while starlings belong to the Sturnidae family. They also have different feeding and nesting habits.

Q: How can I distinguish between a grackle and a starling?
A: One of the main distinguishing features is their size. Grackles are typically larger, measuring around 10-12 inches, while starlings are smaller at 7-9 inches. Additionally, grackles have longer tails and larger bodies compared to starlings.

Q: Are there any differences in their plumage?
A: Both grackles and starlings have black plumage, but they may appear differently in certain lighting conditions. Grackles may exhibit iridescent colors on their feathers, giving them a shimmering appearance, while starlings have a more uniform glossy black feathering.

Q: Do grackles and starlings have different calls?
A: Yes, they have distinct vocalizations. Grackles produce loud, squawking calls with a harsh and raspy tone. On the other hand, starlings are known for their ability to mimic various sounds, including human speech and the songs of other bird species.

Q: What are their habitat preferences?
A: Grackles tend to prefer open habitats such as meadows, fields, and agricultural areas, while starlings are commonly found near human settlements, including gardens, parks, and urban areas. Both species can adapt to a range of environments.

Q: Are grackles and starlings considered pests?
A: While both species can be considered nuisance birds in certain situations, starlings are more commonly implicated in causing problems due to their habit of forming large flocks and their tendency to compete with native bird species for food and nesting sites. Grackles, on the other hand, may cause agricultural damage in some cases but usually have less impact than starlings.

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.