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Starling bird (Sturnus vulgaris) information


Starling bird (Sturnus vulgaris) informationThe Starling bird is also called European Starling.

Length Starling bird: 8 to 9 inches. Weight about equals that of robin, but the starling, with its short, drooping tail, is chunkier in appearance.
Male Starling bird: Iridescent black with glints of purple, green, and blue. On back the black feathers, with iridescence of green and bronze, are tipped with brown, as are some of the tail and wing feathers. In autumn and early winter feathers of sides of head, breast, flanks and underparts are tipped with white, giving a gray, mottled appearance. During the winter most of the white tips on breast and underparts wear off. Until the first moult in late summer the young birds are a dark olive-brown in color, with white or whitish throat. These differences in plumage at different seasons and different ages make starlings hard to identify. Red-winged blackbirds and grackles are often mistaken for them. From early spring till mid-June, starling's rather long, sharp bill is yellow. Later in summer it darkens. No other black bird of ours has this yellow bill at any season.
Female Starling bird: Similar in appearance as male Starling bird.
Range Starling bird: Massachusetts to Maryland. Not common beyond 100 miles inland. (Native of northern Europe and Asia.)
Migrations Starling bird: Permanent resident, but flocks show some tendency to drift southward in winter.
More Starling bird information

This comer to our shores is by no means so black as he has been painted. Like many other European immigrants he landed at or near Castle Garden, New York City, and his descendants have not cared to wander very far from this vicinity, preferring regions with a pretty numerous human population. The starlings had increased so fast in this limited region since their first permanent settlement in Central Park about 1890 that farmers and suburban dwellers have feared that they might become as undesirable citizens as some other Europeans - the brown rat, the house mouse, and the English sparrow.

The Starling bird does not eat so many cherries as our old friend the robin, though his depredations are more conspicuous, for whereas the robins in ones and twos will pilfer steadily from many trees for many days without attracting notice, a crowd of starlings is occasionally observed to descend en masse upon a single tree and strip it in a few hours. Naturally such high-handed procedure is observed by many and deeply resented by the owner of the tree, who suffers the steady but less spectacular raids of the robins without serious disquiet,

"Economically considered, the starling is the superior of either the flicker, the robin, or the English sparrow, three of the species with which it comes in contact in its breeding operations. The eggs and young of bluebirds and wrens may be protected by the use of nest boxes with circular openings 1.5 inches or less in diameter. This leaves the purple martin the only species readily subject to attack by the starling, whose economic worth may be considered greater than that of the latter, but in no case was the disturbance of a well-established colony of martins noted."

So much for the starling in his aspect as an undesirable citizen. Government investigators, by a long-continued study, have discovered that his good deeds far outnumber his misdemeanors. Primarily he feeds on noxious insects and useless wild fruits. Small truck gardens and individual cherry trees may be occasionally raided by large flocks with disastrous results in a small way.

But on the whole he is a useful frequenter of our door-yards who 'pays his way by destroying hosts of cut-worms and equally noxious' insects. "A thorough consideration of the evidence at hand indicates that, based on food habits, the adult starling is the economic superior of the robin, catbird, flicker, red-winged blackbird, or grackle." Need more be said for him?