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Starling - The Enigmatic Bird

Habitat and Distribution

Starlings, scientifically known as Sturnus vulgaris, are captivating birds with a wide distribution across various habitats around the world. In this article, we will delve into the habitat preferences and distribution patterns of starlings, shedding light on their adaptability and remarkable ability to thrive in diverse environments. 

Habitat Preferences
Starlings are highly adaptable birds, which contributes to their successful colonization of various regions. They are commonly found in both urban and rural landscapes, displaying a remarkable ability to adapt to different habitats. However, they do have some preferred habitats that meet their specific needs.
1- Open Fields and Meadows 

Starlings are often associated with open fields and meadows where they forage for insects, earthworms, and other invertebrates. These habitats provide ample opportunities for them to probe the ground with their sharp bills, extracting food from the soil. Additionally, open areas offer clear sightlines for their stunning aerial displays, known as murmurations. 

3- Woodlands and Forest Edges 

While starlings are primarily known for their affinity for open spaces, they can also be found in woodlands and forest edges. Here, they take advantage of the abundant food sources provided by trees, such as fruits, berries, and seeds. Woodlands with open clearings or edges provide a balance of shelter and food availability for starlings.
4- Urban and Suburban Environments
Starlings have adapted remarkably well to human-altered landscapes. Urban and suburban areas offer an abundance of food resources, including discarded food, fruit trees, and bird feeders. Buildings and structures also provide nesting sites, with starlings often utilizing gaps in eaves, crevices, and nest boxes.

Distribution Patterns
Starlings have a vast distribution range, spanning across Europe, Asia, North America, and parts of Africa. Originally native to Europe and Asia, they have been introduced to other regions, including Australia and New Zealand. Their successful colonization can be attributed to their adaptability, as well as intentional introductions by humans. 
In North America, starlings were introduced in the late 19th century by individuals who wanted to establish populations of all the birds mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare. Since then, they have thrived and expanded their range across the continent, becoming one of the most abundant bird species in many areas. 
In Europe, starlings are widespread, occupying a variety of habitats from coastal regions to farmlands and urban centers. They are known for their large-scale migrations, with some populations traveling long distances to escape harsh winters or find suitable breeding grounds. 

Conservation Concerns
While starlings are not currently considered a conservation concern due to their large populations and adaptability, it is essential to recognize their impact on native bird species and ecosystems. In some regions, starlings can outcompete native cavity-nesting birds for nesting sites, potentially leading to declines in their populations. It is crucial to maintain a balance between the presence of starlings and the conservation of native bird species. 

The habitat preferences and distribution patterns of starlings highlight their adaptability and ability to thrive in various environments. From open fields to urban landscapes, these birds have successfully colonized diverse habitats around the world. Understanding their habitat requirements and impact on native species is crucial for maintaining a harmonious balance in our ecosystems. Whether you encounter starlings in rural or urban areas, their fascinating behaviors and remarkable adaptability make them a captivating species to observe and appreciate. 

Behavior and Characteristics of Starlings

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris )

a splendid starling bird

A species of small passerine bird of the sturnidae family, this large family includes 33 genera, representing 123 different species. Bird present on all continents except Antarctica. Renowned for its incredible vocal abilities, the starling is able to imitate other birds, but also the various surrounding noises.


The plumage of the male starling is generally shiny black, we observe different reflections that can be green, pink, blue, purple. The bird also has many small spots at the end of the feathers, on the neck, belly and torso, they can be brown or white. The eye is brown in color, its pointed brown beak, changing color during the breeding season, sporting a magnificent yellow color. We also observe a change in the color of the legs, usually brown, they become a reddish pink, probably an asset of seduction. The female, much duller, nevertheless has more spots, she is recognizable thanks to the white circle surrounding her eyes.


Height : 17 à 22 cm
Wingspan :  37 cm
Weight : entre 75 et 95 gr 
Longevity : 20 ans

Nesting et reproduction 
Nesting period: April to July
Number of broods: 2
Number of eggs: 4-8 eggs of 30 mm deep blue color
Brood length: 12-13 days
1st flight: 20-22 days


Being an omnivorous species, the starling feeds mainly on insects and fruit, which can cause a lot of damage in orchards. The adult bird is particularly fond of small invertebrates that it finds in the ground, such as snails, earthworms or even spiders. It can also feed on seeds and cereals depending on the season and the habitat. Young specimens feed mainly on tender parts of invertebrates before they can eat like adults. Starlings feed by forming huge aggregations at feeding sites.


The main behavioral trait of the European Starling results in a gregarious temperament, living in a community of hundreds of congeners. During nesting, like many species, it adopts a weak territorial behavior towards its congeners. During nesting, adults outside the nest join hundreds of congeners to form giant dormitories. Considered very harmful given the number of birds feeding at the same time, owners of vineyards or orchards try hard to get rid of them.

How do you keep starlings away from feeders?

If you have decided to feed and observe the garden birds, it is obvious that the starling may come to get supplies and scare away the other small birds. It is difficult to fight against this invader, the only advice to keep starlings away is to observe and scare as soon as the first individuals appear.


Where do the starlings go?

The breeding season generally extends according to the countries from March to July, they generally migrate from the North-East of Europe towards the hot countries like Spain and Italy. The male usually arrives first on the breeding site, being a cave species, he builds the nest in a natural cavity, failing to find the ideal location, the starling will be satisfied with a nest box of human origin, like a floor lamp or the top of a wall.

Starlings have the particularity of being monogamous as well as polygamous, knowing that there can be two broods in the same season, it is frequent that a brood does not necessarily have identical genetic origins. Once its bride has been chosen, this one could lay 4 and 8 pale blue and spotted eggs. Hatching normally occurs between 10 to 16 days after laying.

Both parents provide mutual care for the young by feeding them from hatching to fledging, this final phase occurring on average after 25 days. However, the young remain nevertheless fragile and totally dependent on the adults for a good additional week, the parents will continue to ensure during these few days the feeding of their juveniles. 

Attracting Starlings to Your Garden

Starlings, with their sleek feathers and enchanting songs, can bring life and beauty to any garden. These highly adaptable birds are known for their intelligence and social behavior. If you're a bird enthusiast looking to attract starlings to your garden, this article will provide you with valuable tips and insights to create an inviting space for these captivating creatures. 

1- Understanding Starlings

Starlings belong to the Sturnidae family and are native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. They are medium-sized birds characterized by their glossy black plumage adorned with iridescent speckles. Starlings have a unique ability to mimic sounds, including human speech and other bird songs. They are also skilled acrobats, often performing intricate aerial displays.
2- Creating an Appealing Habitat

To attract starlings, it's important to provide a garden environment that meets their basic needs. Start by offering a diverse range of vegetation, including trees, shrubs, and flowering plants. These provide shelter, nesting sites, and a source of food such as berries, fruits, and insects. Consider incorporating native plant species that attract insects, as they serve as an important food source for starlings. 

3- Installing Nest Boxes

Starlings are cavity nesters, which means they seek out holes or crevices in trees and buildings to build their nests. Installing nest boxes specifically designed for starlings can provide them with a suitable place to raise their young. Place the nest boxes at least 10 feet above the ground, facing away from prevailing winds, and in a location that receives partial sunlight. Clean the boxes annually to ensure their continued use. 

4- Offering Food and Water

Starlings have diverse dietary preferences, feeding on a variety of foods such as insects, berries, seeds, and suet. To attract them, set up bird feeders stocked with suet cakes, mealworms, or a mix of black oil sunflower seeds and cracked corn. Consider using feeders with perches or trays that accommodate their feeding habits. Additionally, providing a shallow birdbath or a water feature will entice starlings to visit your garden for a refreshing drink or a quick dip.
5- Creating a Safe Environment
Maintaining a safe environment is crucial for attracting and keeping starlings in your garden. Minimize the use of pesticides, as these chemicals can harm birds directly or reduce their food supply. Keep your garden cat-free or use deterrents to prevent predation. Regularly clean feeders and bird baths to prevent the spread of diseases among the avian visitors. 

6- Enjoying Starling Behaviors
Once starlings have made your garden their home, take the time to observe their fascinating behaviors. Their acrobatic flights, vocal performances, and synchronized murmurations are truly captivating. Grab a pair of binoculars and find a comfortable spot to enjoy their lively presence. 

Attracting starlings to your garden can be a rewarding experience for bird enthusiasts. By providing a suitable habitat, installing nest boxes, offering food and water, and ensuring a safe environment, you can invite these remarkable birds into your outdoor space. Enjoy the sights and sounds of starlings as they grace your garden with their beauty and charm.

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