European StarlingSturnus vulgaris

adult, breeding
Rob Curtis/VIREO
adult, nonbreeding
Rob Curtis/VIREO
adult, breeding
Rob Curtis/VIREO
juvenile
Laure W. Neish/VIREO
European Starling

Description

7 1/2-8 1/2" (19-22 cm). Smaller than a robin. A short-tailed, chunky, iridescent black bird; long pointed bill, yellow in summer and dark in fall and early winter. Plumage flecked with white in winter. Juvenile is uniform dull gray with dark bill.

Voice

A series of discordant, musical, squeaky, and rasping notes; often imitates other birds. Call a descending whee-ee.

Listen

song #1
wheezy sounds & other calls
immature call
song #2

Habitat

Cities, suburban areas, farmlands, and ranches.

Range

Occurs from Alaska and Quebec south throughout continent to Gulf Coast and northern Mexico. Native to Eurasia and widely introduced around the world.

Discussion

Conditioned by centuries of living in settled areas in Europe, this species easily adapted to American cities after 100 birds were liberated in Central Park, New York City, in 1890. Since then it has spread over most of the continent. Its large roosts, often located on buildings, may contain tens of thousands of birds. Hordes of these birds create much noise, damage vegetable or fruit crops, and do considerable damage around feedlots, consuming and fouling the feed of domestic cattle, and have proved difficult to drive away. Starlings compete with native hole-nesters for woodpecker holes and natural cavities.

Nesting

4-6 pale blue eggs in a mass of twigs, grass, and trash lined with finer plant material and feathers, and placed in a tree or building cavity.

Similar Species

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Vireo

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