17 Facts About Starlings [Eating Habits, Starling Life Cycle & More]

One of the most fascinating bird species that are scattered across the whole world especially in Europe, Asia, Africa, Northern Australia, and the Islands of the tropical Pacific, are the Starlings belonging to the Sturnidae family.

A number of European and Asian species have interestingly been introduced to places such as North America, Hawaii, and New Zealand. Their approaches, appearances, and livelihoods differ considerably depending upon their varied species and distinct habitats.

These extremely social birds can mimic and imitate a wide variety of sounds including car alarms or human speeches. Isn’t that amazingly interesting?

Let’s explore and discover some of the most interesting facts and informative knowledge relating to the lives, livelihood and activities of Starlings! 

17 Interesting Facts About Starlings

The most fascinating 17 facts concerning the lives, eating habits, lifespan, livelihood, distinctive characteristics, unique features, and speed have been vividly discussed in this article.

1. What Do Starlings Eat?

Starlings are Omnivores meaning they eat mostly whatever is available to them. Their diet primarily consists of insects during Summers, and fruits and berries during the Winters.

Insects make up about 58% of an adult Starling’s dietary supplement including Beetles, Grasshoppers, Flies, Worms, Spiders, and Caterpillars.

They also feed on vegetation and berries, especially during the Winters, that primarily includes Apples, Pears, Oranges, Blueberries, Blackberries, and Mulberries.

2. What Eats Starlings?

Like any other smaller birds, Starlings too have few predators that feed upon them. The primary predators of Starlings include Hawks, Falcons, and Owls.

Other than these predators, Black and Red Kites, Eastern Imperial Eagles, Common Buzzards, and Australasian Harriers tend to prey upon easily caught fledglings or Juveniles. The primary predators of Young Starlings include smaller Owls, Raccoons, Rats, and Cats.

3. Where Do Starlings Nest?

Starlings generally build their nests in holes, cavities, or crevices, predominantly in trees. They often tend to build their nests in artificial cavities of buildings or even some occupied houses.

The male Starlings usually choose the nesting site and begin to construct a nest before mating. Later, females may discard or add few materials to their nests. Generally, Starlings add green plants to their nests throughout their nesting period which lasts for about 21-23 days.

4. Why Do Starlings Murmurate?

Starlings perform Murmuration for a variety of reasons that include safety from predators such as Peregrine Falcons, to keep themselves warm at night, and to exchange certain information.

Starling Murmuration – the twisting and swirling of large groups of Starlings across the sky – occurs generally just before dusk, especially during the Autumn and Winter seasons.

The process of Murmuration of Starlings safeguards them from their natural predators, especially Peregrine Falcons since these predators get confused and aren’t able to catch a single Starling amidst such a huge flock consisting of hundreds and thousands of Starlings.

5. Where Do Starlings Go in Winter?

While some Starlings are residential by their behaviors, others tend to migrate from colder areas to more of a moderate climatic conditioning arenas.

The migratory Starlings usually arrive in the United Kingdom from the Northern parts of Europe around September to October and after spending the Wintertime, they eventually return to their breeding areas once environmental conditions become favorable around February to March.

In North America, Starlings usually withdraw from the majority of the Canadian arenas, migrating southwards and spending their winters in the United States. Once the wintertime is gone they return to their native breeding places.

6. What Are Starlings Attracted To?

Starlings, like any other bird species, are naturally attracted towards their favorite food items readily available to them. Being Cavity Nesters, Starlings are attracted towards any kind of nest box present in your backyard.

The food items that genuinely attract Starlings include Cracked Corn, Sunflower Kernels, Suet, Shelled Peanuts, Millets, and Mealworms. As Starlings nest in holes and cavities, they tend to get attracted towards small openings like vents around houses to build their nests.

Thus, their favorite food items and nest boxes or something that appears like holes should be averted to keep Starlings away from your backyards.

7. Why Do Starlings Poop So Much?

Starlings generally nest together in flocks, for which their collective droppings seem enormous and irritating to people.

Starlings droppings can carry a number of viruses, bacteria, protozoans, or fungus that can easily spread diseases like Histoplasmosis, Cryptococcosis, E. Coli, Salmonella, etc., that primarily affects the human lungs and can be fatal if left untreated. The Starling droppings therefore should not be moved or handled without proper protection.

8. Why Do Starlings Shine?

The majority of the Starling species shine because of their iridescent feather structures, that in fact owe them their most unique colors.

Their feathers are usually made up of several layers, on which when the light hits, some light gets reflected while rest passes through them.

If these layers are evenly spaced, the reflected lights amplify each other and produce strong colors that change depending upon the angles from which they are viewed. These layers of feathers consist of pigmented structures called melanosomes.

Some Starlings have flatter melanosomes, while others have hollow melanosomes, and yet others have hollow and flattened melanosomes which gives them distinctive feather colors depending on their varied species.

9. What Smell Do Starlings Hate?

Averting Starlings and keeping them away from your backyards by using smells that they hate is an effective and the simplest way to do so. Starlings are primarily known to hate the smells of Garlic, Cayenne, Pepper, and Essential oils, especially Peppermint oil.

10. When do Baby Starlings Start Flying?

Baby Starlings or Fledglings start to fly effectively around the age of 21-24 days. However, in the wild, they are able to fly and ready to leave their nests much earlier.

Baby Starlings begin to try flying from about 2 weeks of age and it takes them roughly about 3 weeks to learn and fly perfectly.

11. How Long Do Starlings live?

Starlings can generally survive for about 5 to 10 years with an average lifespan of 2-3 years in the wild and they can live for approximately upto 20 years in captivity.

Most certainly Starlings have a pretty long lifespan that mainly depends on their abilities to avert their predators and the geographical location they live in. Since their nests are built inside holes, fledglings are able to avert predators and survive longer.

However, compared to the wild, where these birds are exposed to their predators and have to struggle for food, in captivity Starlings tend to live longer since they aren’t exposed to their predators and other risks.

12. What are Starlings Good For?

Although Starlings are thought to be a nuisance because of their tendency to stay in flocks and make noise by many people, they are very useful in agriculture for controlling pest populations.

The major portion of a Starling’s diet includes insects such as Gypsy Moths, Caterpillars, Flies, or Fly Larvae, that are considered as agricultural pests and usually damage crops to a great extent.

Starlings, by feeding on these pests, help to reduce and control their populations ultimately safeguarding the agricultural fields and crops. Starlings are also good for their unique talents such as Murmuration, decorating their nests, and mimic sounds.

Their iridescent feather along with ‘star-like dots’ gives them a distinctive appearance.

13. How Long Do Starlings Molt?

Starlings generally molt once a year during the late summer months that last for about three months. However, their molting period primarily depends on specific species and can take a mere period of 1 month to a longer period of about 6 months.

Why Do Starlings Lose Their Feathers?

Like many other bird species, Starlings tend to lose their feathers usually because of their general molting process. They usually shed all their previously worn-out feathers after breeding and regrow new ones in order to keep them warm in the upcoming winter months.

14. What is a Group of Starlings Called?

A group or flock of Starlings are usually called Murmuration that consists of hundreds and sometimes even thousands of Starlings together.

Murmuration is an unique characteristic feature of Starlings where they tend to synchronize their twists and swirls, and fly across the whole sky in large numbers, usually hundreds and thousands!

15. Why Do Starlings Fly in a Group?

The Murmuration or flying in groups is a peculiar hypnotizing characteristic that enables Starlings to confuse their predators like Peregrine Falcons and safeguard themselves.

It is generally impossible for their predators to catch a single Starling from such a huge flock and therefore are generally averted. The more Starlings are present in a flock, the less is the chance of being attacked or caught up by their predators.

They usually prefer to stay in groups to keep themselves warm at night and exchange additional information. Also, Starlings are social birds that live in large groups for most of the time of a year except for breeding.

16. How Fast Do Starlings Fly?

Starlings generally fly at a speed of 60 to 80 km/h, that is 37 to 50 mph. They generally tend to fly faster when they’re in groups or are performing Murmuration in the sky. They can cover upto 1000 to 1500 km of distance while migrating southwards during the winters.

17. What Are Starlings Afraid Of?

Like any other bird species, Starlings are also predominantly afraid of their predators that include Hawks, Falcons, and some species of Owls.

Fake dummies of their Predators such as Hawks, Peregrine Falcons, and large Owls can keep Starlings away from your backyards and this works as an effective way to get rid of them. Creatures are naturally scared of their predators and Starlings are no exception to this.

Final Words:

It is thus clear from the above discussion that Starlings are unique and distinctive in their characteristic features and behaviors. They are primarily fond of insects that in turn help agricultural fields and crops to stay pest free.

Their iridescent feathers give them a unique appearance and make them different from other bird species. They vary significantly depending upon their species but share certain common behaviors.

Their flying across the sky in groups or Murmuration is totally distinctive, that along with their nesting in holes protects them from dangers most importantly their predators.

Therefore, their behaviors, feeding habits, livelihood, characteristic features, speed, and distinctive capabilities, that is observed above, proves that these bird species are one of a kind and are totally unique in their own way.