About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Changing faces of starlings

European Starling in Summer
•In 1890’s, 100 starlings were released into New York City’s Central Park. It is said that Eugene Schieffelin wanted all of New York to see the birds mentioned in the plays of William Shakespeare. Until that time, starlings were not native to North America.

•Since its introduction into North America, European Starling populations have grown to over 200 million birds and they can now be found coast to coast and in Alaska.

•When European Starlings molt their feathers in the fall, the new feathers have white tips, giving the appearance of “stars”. Over the winter, sunlight and weather dulls the speckled look as the tips wear off and the bird becomes uniform dark brown or black.


European Starling in winter
•The European Starling also has a seasonal change in bill color (yellow in the spring, black in the fall).

•European Starlings have a highly adaptable diet and eat a wide variety of foods, such as snails, worms, millipedes, and spiders, in addition to fruits, berries, grains, and seeds.

•To glean insects and invertebrates, you can watch starlings poking their beaks into the ground, opening wide to spread the soil and then picking out exposed larvae and earthworms.

• Baby starlings almost look like a different species. They are a dark gray and then start to grow a black and white spotted vest. Eventually they get their adult feathers before winter.

A juvenile European Starling (also known as Co...Image via Wikipedia
Juvenile European Starling
•In Starlings, the length of the intestinal tract actually varies depending on the season. It is shorter in the summertime when birds are mainly eating protein-rich insects and larger in wintertime when they are mainly eating seeds, which are rich in carboyhydrates.

•Starlings, as members of the Sturnidae family, are cousins to the Mynah bird and are outstanding mimics. Individuals have been known to mimic many calls and can even mimic human speech.

•Bird banding records show the longest known life-span for a Starling in North America to be over 15 years old.

• A group of starlings has many collective nouns, including a "constellation", "filth", "murmuration", "scourge", and "vulgarity" of starlings.