What Species Have Been Impacted by the European Starling?

The European starling, an alien in North America, has had a big effect on different bird species and ecosystems. Its hostile behavior and flexibility have caused many consequences for native birds and their homes. From out-competing other birds that nest in cavities to displacing them from feeding spots, the starling has disturbed delicate ecological balances.

These effects are most obvious in the eastern bluebird. This beloved native species has a striking blue plumage and used to be common in open woodlands of North America. Yet, with the starling’s arrival, their numbers have dropped. It aggressively fights for nesting cavities and often forces bluebirds out of their nests, leaving them without breeding grounds. So, eastern bluebird populations have taken a hit.

Apart from harming individual species like the eastern bluebird, the starling’s introduction has broader threats for ecosystem functioning. The competitive nature of this invasive bird leads to reduced biodiversity as it takes the resources of cavity-nesting species. This can have a cascade effect on other parts of the ecosystem, impacting both plant and animal communities.

A prime example of this is Eugene Schieffelin’s introduction of the starling into Central Park in the 1890s. His aim was to bring all birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works to North America, but his decision had unintended results. Now, millions of European starlings are across North America due to his actions. This serves as a warning that even seemingly harmless or well-intentioned introductions can have far-reaching ecological outcomes.

Background information on the European Starling

The European Starling, also called Sturnus vulgaris, is a small- to medium-sized bird native to Europe. In the 19th century, it was brought to North America and has since become one of the most successful invader species there.

They boast a striking look. Glossy black feathers with iridescent spots, a yellow beak and legs – all this against the dark plumage makes them stand out. They can thrive in many habitats, like urban, farm and forest areas.

A key to their success is how quickly they reproduce. During breeding season, they form big flocks and can have multiple broods in a year. This fast reproduction rate allows them to take over new environments and outcompete other birds for resources like nest sites and food.

The presence of European Starlings has had a huge effect on other native bird populations. They battle with other cavity-nesting birds like woodpeckers and bluebirds for nest sites. Their aggressive behavior and huge flock sizes make it hard for other species to reproduce and raise their young.

Also, they eat much agricultural crops, like cherries and grapes. This not only causes economic losses for farmers, but it also messes up natural ecosystems by changing the food supply for other wildlife.

Pro Tip: To stop European Starlings from nesting on your property, install nest boxes made for native birds. These boxes have entrance holes that are too small for starlings, but okay for smaller cavity-nesting birds. By providing these nesting options, you can help support local biodiversity and reduce competition from this invader species.

Impact of European Starlings on native bird species

Thirty words-

European Starlings have great effect on native bird species. See the table for details! Bluebirds battle for nesting spots, woodpeckers for food, swallows get displaced, and sparrows face aggressive behavior.

More than that, these birds can disrupt ecosystems and change habitats. Check out the full range of destruction and be aware of the need to protect native birds!

European Starlings’ behavior and adaptability

European Starlings have amazing abilities! They can copy other birds’ songs, forming large groups to breed or not. They navigate well and eat a variety of food, even garbage. They build complex nests in cavities or crevices, and even adapt to urban environments. Not only that, but they also survive harsh weather and reproduce quickly.

Yet, there’s still more to learn about these birds! For instance, in winter they often roost together in huge groups for safety and warmth. Fascinating!

Efforts to control the European Starling population

To control the European Starling population, several methods can be used. These include:

  1. Monitoring nest boxes to remove starling nests and allow native species to thrive.
  2. Setting traps to capture starlings and reduce their numbers.
  3. Introducing shooting programs in some areas.
  4. Modifying habitats to make them less desirable for starlings.
  5. Removing starling eggs and nests.
  6. Educating the public to promote efforts to control the population.

Also, native vegetation can be planted to discourage starlings from occupying areas that are essential for other birds.

Despite these efforts, starlings continue to prosper due to their adaptability and rapid reproductive rate. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this is why they are so successful.


Nature’s vastness has seen numerous species succumb to the European Starling’s intrusive presence. These fierce birds have been a great challenge for native species, causing mayhem far and near.

The Starling’s strong appetite and aggressive attitude have had a deep impact on multiple bird populations. Native cavity-nesting birds like bluebirds and woodpeckers are often forced out of their homes by these invaders who take over nesting sites. These native birds find it hard to find habitats and raise their young.

The European Starling doesn’t just oust birds. It also disrupts agricultural practices, eating crops and raiding farmers’ fields; costing lives and food production.

In America, sunflower fields full of bright yellow blooms used to be a sight to behold. Farmers extracted oil from them, fed livestock and attracted tourists. But then flocks of Starlings came in their hordes and destroyed the ripened sunflowers.

Trying to scare them off, farmers used loud noises and pyrotechnics, but to no avail. The Starlings adapted quickly and kept on feasting. The sunflower fields were reduced to ruins. The economic losses suffered were high, leaving a lasting impact on individuals and the community.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the European Starling?

The European Starling, scientifically known as Sturnus vulgaris, is a bird species native to Europe, but it has been introduced to vast parts of North America, South America, Australia, and New Zealand. It is known for its black plumage with iridescent purple and green sheen.

2. How has the European Starling impacted native bird species?

The European Starling is known to negatively impact native bird species in the areas it has been introduced. It aggressively competes for nesting sites, food sources, and cavities, which can lead to a decline in native bird populations. It can also outcompete other bird species for resources, affecting their breeding success.

3. Which specific native bird species have been impacted by the European Starling?

Several native bird species have been impacted by the European Starling, including cavity-nesting species such as bluebirds, woodpeckers, and some species of owls. Additionally, ground-nesting birds like meadowlarks and native songbirds also face competition for resources and nesting sites.

4. How does the European Starling impact agricultural practices?

European Starlings can cause significant damage to agricultural crops. They feed on fruits, grains, and seeds, posing a threat to crops like cherries, grapes, and corn. Their large flocks can devour substantial quantities of crops, leading to economic losses for farmers.

5. Are there any positive aspects of the European Starling’s presence?

While the European Starling has negative impacts, it also has a few positive aspects. It helps control certain insect populations by feeding on them, which can be beneficial for farmers and gardens. Furthermore, their distinctive murmuration displays can be an awe-inspiring natural spectacle.

6. What measures are being taken to manage the impact of European Starlings?

Various management techniques are employed to mitigate the impact of European Starlings. These include trapping and relocation programs, use of deterrents and scare tactics, and development of nest boxes or structures specifically designed to discourage their nesting while providing alternative options for native species.

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.