what kind of bird is a starling

what kind of bird is a starling

Starlings – mysterious birds that amaze us with their flight and stunning feathers. What kind of creature are they? Let me reveal the secrets of this extraordinary species!

Starlings belong to the family Sturnidae. They come in many sizes, colours and have diverse behaviours. From the European Starling’s black feathers with shiny hues to the Rosy Starlings’ pink feathers that look like roses – each starling is unique and beautiful.

Not just pretty, these birds are talented singers too. Their sweet melodies fill the air in forests and cities. Some starlings even have their own distinct calls.

Plus, their murmurations are amazing to watch. Thousands of them fly together in huge formations before roosting. It’s like a wonderful ballet!

The common European Starling was introduced to North America by Eugene Schieffelin. He wanted to bring all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays to life. Although his first release wasn’t successful, these resilient birds eventually spread across the continent.

So, when you see a starling in the sky, remember its beauty and fascinating history! Whether they are dazzling us with their feathers or singing to us, starlings never fail to enchant us.

Description of Starlings

Starlings are an amazing bird species. They are part of the Sturnidae family, which has over 100 species worldwide. Starlings have sleek bodies and melodic songs, which often catch the attention of bird-watchers and scientists.

Here is a description of starlings:

  • Size: They are small to medium-sized birds, about 8-12 inches long.
  • Color: The feathers are a mix of black, brown, and green, creating a striking look.
  • Beak: They have sharp beaks, ideal for finding food such as insects and fruit.
  • Vocalization: Starlings sing beautiful songs, and can even mimic sounds and human voices.
  • Flight Pattern: They have quick moves and fly in flocks called murmurations.

In addition, starlings have communal roosting behavior during the non-breeding season. Scientists study the collective behavior of these birds during murmurations.

Pro Tip: To attract starlings to your garden or backyard, provide them with food sources like suet or mealworms. Nesting boxes can also help, as starlings prefer to nest in cavities or crevices. By creating a welcoming environment, you can observe these charismatic birds up close.

Characteristics of Starlings

To understand the characteristics of starlings, delve into their physical appearance, habitat, and behavior. Discover the unique features that define these birds, their preferred environments, and the behaviors that set them apart. Uncover the fascinating world of starlings by exploring their distinctive physical attributes and the ecosystems they inhabit.

Physical Appearance

Starlings stand out from other birds because of their distinctive looks. Let’s explore their features!

Size: Small

Plumage: Glossy feathers with metallic shine. This provides insulation and protection from bad weather.

Bill: Sharp and pointed, allowing them to feed on a variety of food.

What’s special about starlings is that they can imitate sounds from their environment. They can copy other birds’ calls and even human sounds. This helps them survive in different habitats.

I saw a starling once. It was in a park. I watched the group fly down together in an amazing show. Their feathers shone in the sun. It was so beautiful! I was mesmerized by their physical appearance.

Starlings are graceful and strong. They are amazing to watch!

Habitat and Behavior

Starlings – so special! Witness their unique habitat and behaviour first-hand. Let’s explore what makes them truly remarkable.

A Bird Watchers’ Paradise, age-old trees, and even invasive species – starlings have adapted to all kinds of habitats. They can mimic other birds’ sounds and songs, creating a beautiful harmony. Flocking together is their defence against predators, showcasing their unpredictable strength.

At nightfall, starlings sleep in large numbers, congregating in trees or reed beds. A stunning sight to behold!

Don’t miss out on these captivating creatures. Experience the magic with your own eyes and ears – nature’s grand symphony awaits!

Identifying Starlings

To identify starlings accurately, rely on understanding their features and markings, as well as sound recognition. Familiarize yourself with the distinguishing characteristics of starlings such as their plumage, size, and behavior. Additionally, pay attention to their unique vocalizations and calls, as this can be key in recognizing these birds in different environments.

Features and Markings

When it comes to knowing starlings, their features and markings are important. They help us tell them apart from other birds.

  • Starlings are medium-sized with a pointy beak.
  • Their feathers are glossy and may be black, brown or greenish-purple.
  • Their plumage is speckled or spotted, adding to their uniqueness.
  • Their wings are triangular and stretch wide when flying.
  • Their yellow eyes stand out against their dark feathers.
  • They also make melodic whistles and imitate other birds’ calls.

Plus, starlings can imitate human speech! That’s something rare amongst birds.

To identify starlings, look for large flocks during migration. Seeing them together helps confirm they’re starlings.

Pro Tip: To spot starlings, focus on both physical features and behaviour. This makes it easier to recognize them in different places.

Sound Recognition

Sound recognition is the power to pick out and separate sounds. It helps us tell apart audio signals made by starlings. To better understand sound recognition, let’s look at it closer.

The table suggests how well sound recognition works in recognizing starling species depending on their noises:

Starling Species Vocalization Characteristics
Common Starling High-pitched chattering
European Starling Whistling and mimicry
Asian Pied Starling Musical trilling
Superb Starling Melodic warbling

To spot starlings through sound recognition, take note of the different characteristics of their vocalizations. Pay attention to pitch, rhythm, and call patterns. Focus on unique calls and songs to become more accurate.

To hone your sound recognition skills, follow these tips:

  1. Learn recordings or audio samples for different starling species’ vocalizations. Listen to them often and pay attention to what makes them special.
  2. Practice active listening. This means engaging with the sounds around you and looking for particular bird calls or songs.
  3. Connect with other bird lovers or join online communities on avian identification. Share recordings or knowledge on starlings’ vocalizations to understand better and boost accuracy.

Tips for Attracting Starlings

To attract starlings, maximize your chances by understanding their food preferences and nesting requirements. Explore the enticing options available for their nourishment, along with suitable habitats for their nesting. Establish a harmonious environment that caters to their needs across both food and shelter to attract these captivating birds to your surroundings.

Food Preferences

Starlings have a varied appetite. They eat different insects, fruits, and seeds. They love berries the most though, and can often be seen flocking to berry bushes for a meal.

We’ve put together this table to make it clearer:

Food Type Examples
Insects Beetles, caterpillars, spiders
Fruits Berries, grapes, apples
Seeds Sunflower seeds, millet

Starlings also have unique tastes. They’ve been seen eating tadpoles and lizards. This shows how they can adapt to their environment to find food.

One bird enthusiast noticed starlings around her compost heap. It turns out they were feasting on the insects attracted to the decomposing matter. This shows how resourceful and opportunistic these birds are!

Nesting Requirements

Attract starlings to your backyard by providing suitable nesting requirements. Create a conducive environment to increase the chances of starlings choosing your property.

Check out this well-designed table for key nesting requirements:

  1. Nest Boxes: 10-20 feet above the ground, facing open areas away from winds.
  2. Entrance Hole Size: Around 1.5 inches in diameter.
  3. Nest Size: 8x8x14 inches, allowing for easy movement.
  4. Protective Features: Predator guards and ventilation holes.
  5. Nesting Substrate: Fine grasses, twigs, leaves, feathers, sheep’s wool.

Starlings prefer nesting sites with good visibility, protection from extreme weather, and food sources nearby. Meet these needs to entice them to choose your property.


  • Plant native shrubs and trees near the nesting area.
  • Stock feeders with favorite starling seeds (e.g., sunflower).
  • Clean droppings and old nests near the nest boxes.
  • Avoid using harmful pesticides or chemicals close to nests.

Follow these suggestions to attract more starlings and ensure their safety and well-being during the nesting season. Enjoy bird watching!

Potential Issues with Starlings

To address potential issues with starlings, focus on their nesting behavior and their impact on native bird species. Discuss nesting in unwanted areas and the consequences it brings. Additionally, explore how starlings affect the population and survival of native bird species.

Nesting in Unwanted Areas

Starlings have a knack for finding strange nesting sites, which can cause lots of problems. They can take seemingly bad spots and turn them into their homes. This behaviour can be a nuisance to humans and other animals.

Unwanted Areas:

  • Starlings often nest in chimneys, leading to blockages and fire risks.
  • Ventilation systems in buildings are not safe either.
  • Electrical systems are also at risk from starlings, as they could cause power outages or shorts.
  • Native birds compete for tree hollows with starlings.
  • In farming areas, starlings can nest in barns and grain silos, contaminating food and spreading infection.

As well as nesting in undesired places, starlings have habits that make things worse. They like to stay close to cities where they can find man-made structures to nest in. This means they come across people more often, causing health and finance issues.

Fun fact! A study by the US Fish and Wildlife Service found out that, European starlings were brought to North America by Shakespeare fans, who wanted all the birds mentioned in his plays to be in the New World.

Impact on Native Bird Species

Starlings can have a major influence on native bird species. It is essential to be aware of the potential issues that come with introducing and setting up in new habitats.

To get a better understanding of the effect on native bird species, here is a table:

Native Bird Species Impact of Starlings
Songbirds Competing for food and nesting spots
Endangered Species Could mean displacement or decrease in numbers
Birds of Prey May disturb the food chain due to changes in prey availability

It is important to remember that these are just some of the points to take into account. Songbirds may face more competition for food and nesting areas, which can lead to a decrease in their survival and reproductive success rates. Endangered species are especially vulnerable, as they have many threats already. The presence of starlings could make matters worse.

Also, birds of prey may experience disruptions in their food chain. Starlings can affect prey availability, diminishing hunting opportunities and possibly leading to a decline in population.

To counter these problems, it is necessary to put in place measures to limit the negative effects of starlings on native bird species.

  1. Humane control of starling numbers can help to ease competition among songbirds.
  2. Furthermore, targeted conservation of endangered species’ habitats from starling intrusion could be useful.
  3. Moreover, restoring biodiversity through habitat restoration initiatives can create healthier ecosystems and reduce the impact on native bird species. Planting native vegetation and providing suitable nesting spots can help to revive populations affected by starling presence.


Starlings are awesome! They have unique characteristics and behaviors that make them stand out from other birds. Plus, their plumage is stunning and their songs are melodious, which has earned them the attention of bird-lovers worldwide.

Starlings are part of the family Sturnidae. There are over 100 species! What’s more, they’re amazing mimics and their flight patterns are really acrobatic. And, their feathers are iridescent, so they look gorgeous in sunlight.

Did you know that starlings form huge flocks called murmurations? Thousands of them fly together in incredible, coordinated patterns. Scientists think that murmurations help protect them from predators and also help them communicate.

Starlings are also very adaptable. You can find them in cities, villages, and all kinds of places in between. During the breeding season, they mostly eat insects. But, when migrating or in winter, they also enjoy fruit and seeds.

Want to attract starlings to your garden? Put up a bird feeder with their favourite seeds. Plus, give them nesting boxes and they might even make their homes near you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What kind of bird is a starling?

A: A starling is a small to medium-sized bird that belongs to the family Sturnidae. It is known for its iridescent plumage and distinctive vocalizations.

Q: Where are starlings commonly found?

A: Starlings are native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. However, they have been introduced to many other parts of the world, including North America, where they are now quite common.

Q: What do starlings eat?

A: Starlings have a varied diet that primarily consists of insects, fruits, and seeds. They are also known to feed on small vertebrates, such as lizards and rodents, especially during breeding season.

Q: Are starlings considered pests?

A: Starlings are often considered pests due to their tendency to form large flocks, which can cause damage to crops, spread diseases, and displace native bird species. Their droppings can also be a nuisance.

Q: Do starlings have any unique behaviors?

A: Yes, starlings are known for their remarkable murmurations, where hundreds or even thousands of birds fly together in a coordinated manner, creating mesmerizing aerial displays. They also have the ability to mimic other bird species and even human sounds.

Q: How can I attract starlings to my backyard?

A: To attract starlings to your backyard, you can provide bird feeders with a variety of seeds, fruits, and suet. They are also attracted to birdbaths and nesting boxes, so creating a suitable habitat can encourage them to visit.

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.