The Starling is a very
common sight over most of north America. They were imported to New York in 1890
and spread across the continent from there.
Starling song is quite
complex, including a series of whistling notes, chatter and a clear “wolf”
Starlings belong to the family of birds which includes vocal mimics known as
Starlings are adept at exploiting urban,
suburban and agricultural settings. They are one of only a few birds that
tolerate areas of high human density and disturbance.
Starlings have wide-ranging food tolerances though they prefer insects. Spring
flocks of starlings often descend on lawns much to the dismay of homeowners who
feel they are doing damage when in fact, they are consuming insect pests and
homeowners a big favor.
to flock together when feeding. When traveling, the flock looks like it rolls;
the birds at the back of the flock go over and replace the birds at the front.
If a hawk appears, the flock tightens for protection.
Male and female
starlings look similar. Both are glossy black with purplish and
iridescence on the head, back and breast. Juveniles have grayish brown
plumage. Starlings molt their feathers in the fall. The new feather tips are
whitish, giving the bird a speckled appearance. Over the winter sunlight and
weather dulls the speckled look and the bird becomes uniform dark brown or
beaks are yellow during the spring breeding season. By fall the beak becomes
brown, and it remains brown through winter. Their beaks are short, and are
designed to open with force, different from other birds who have stronger
muscles to close down their beaks. The strong opening beak is an adaptation for
probing in the soil for insects and worms, pushing rocks and soil out of the
Starlings are monogamous; they court and mate in the early spring. Most of the
spring and summer is spent by paired birds in nesting and raising young.
Anywhere from three to eight eggs are laid in each clutch. Adults can nest
three times a year. The young fledge between two and three weeks of age.