Starlings are stocky birds with short tails, triangular wings and long, pointed bill. They are mostly black. Their feathers are a purplish-green in the summer and more brown in the winter.


Starlings forage for food wherever they can find open fields, such as parks, farms, yards and residential areas. They use their strong jaw muscles to poke their beak into the soil and pull out insects like grasshoppers, beetles, flies, caterpillars, snails, earthworms, millipedes and spiders. They’ll also eat fruit from common plants. Starlings are also known known to eat garbage.


As an aggressive and highly adaptable non-native, starlings have few predators.


Starlings are strong fliers that can get up to speeds of 48 mph.


Male and female starlings use about 10 kinds of calls to communicate about where they are, whether there’s danger around, and how aggressive or agitated they feel. They can also mimic I high number of birds, such as meadowlarks, jays and hawks.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Male starlings establish a territory, choose a nesting site and the sing to attract a mate. Twice a year, starlings lay 4-6 eggs that are incubated by both parents for about 12 days. Young leave the nest in about 21 days after hatching. Starlings will nest in any type of cavity, including tree cavities, birdhouses and open spaces in buildings.

Did You Know?

  • The story that the European starling was introduced into North America by a Shakespeare enthusiast has recently been refuted.
  • All European starlings in North America descended from 100 birds set loose in New York's Central Park in the early 1890s.
  • Starlings living in North America have few genetic differences. Starlings in Virginia are extremely similar to those living in California, 3,000 miles away.

Sources and Additional Information