Monday, March 26, 2012

Starlings are Stars - at Survival

Starlings are Stars – at Survival

According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, “European Starlings were released into New York’s Central Park in 1890 by a small group of people with a passion to introduce all of the animals mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare.” The original specimens took off, literally, until now the birds number in the millions and have established themselves across North America and Canada. A good story of survival and flourishing. Yet it is also a story of problems for homeowners, farmers, and other birds.

These prolific birds are not shy. Starlings nest in cavities so they sometimes get into dryer vents or attics, utility poles or cracks in buildings. They might even take over nest boxes and co-opt nests from native birds.

Starlings are aggressive about food, as well. They may prefer insects but they will eat fruits, seeds, plantings, and are sometime found rooting in garbage pails. They are a problem to farmers, especially as they can show up by the hundreds in freshly planted fields and feast on cultivated fruits – grapes, peaches, cherries, etc. – and may eat sprouting grains. They sometimes even damage golf greens digging for grubs.

To add to the negative profile, these birds are not neat. Their droppings are acidic and can corrode metal plus they carry disease spores that can be transmitted to livestock and occasionally to humans.

So although they are pretty birds, especially in the winter with their speckled feathers, and as they tend to flock with grackles and can deplete feeders rapidly, it might be a good idea to discourage starlings from your backyard. Here is a humane and practical way to do it without driving away the birds you prefer to have visit:

And here is some further info about Starlings:


  1. Wow, glad we don't seem to have starlings in our backyard. The squirrels and bunnies are enough trouble!

  2. We tried the recommended safflower seed in two of the feeders. So far the only bird attracted has been the cardinal. All the others seem confused. They try it and then rush to the remaining sunflower seeds. We'll give it a while and see how it goes.