Sturnus vulgaris Linnaeus (European Starling )


Lee Karney,
US Fish and Wildlife Service




Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Sturnidae

Synonym(s): common starling, English starling

Description: The European Starling (Stumus vulgaris) is a stocky blackbird with a short tail and long, slender beak. In flight their wings are short and pointed,giving them a star-like appearance (and their name). At a distance, starlings appear black. In summer months they turn iridescent purplish-green with yellow beaks; in fresh winter plumage they are brown, covered in brilliant white spots.

History: Introduced in 1890 as part of a plan to introduce to the United States all birds mentioned in the works of Shakespeare.

Biology: Their ability to adapt to a variety of habitats produce two broods per season; and their diverse dietary preferences allows them to expand quickly.

Ecological Threat: This recent and extremely successful arrival to North America is a fierce competitor with blue birds, purple martins, woodpeckers, and other cavity nesting birds. European Starlings often take over the nests of native birds, expelling the occupants. With so many starlings around, this causes some concern about their effect on native bird populations.

US Habitat: European Starlings are common in urban, suburban, and rural areas. They are ground feeders of lawns, fields, sidewalks, and parking lots. They perch and roost high on wires, trees, and buildings.


Native Origin: Europe

US States: Common in cosmopolitan areas of the United States.

Resembles/Alternatives: Rusty Blackbird, Brewer's Blackbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird

Management: Exclusion: The most preferred and usually the most permanent solution: closing all openings larger that 1 inch with nylon or plastic netting European Starlings may be excluded from buildings or other structures.

Frightening: Frightening can be effective in dispersing starlings from roosts and other small sites. Visual frightening devices include scarecrows, mylar tape, hawk kites, and eye-spot balloons. Auditory frightening devices include recorded distress call tapes, pyrotechnics, and propane cannons.

Repellents: Soft, sticky repellents such as Roost-No-More, Bird Tanglefoot and 4-The-Birds are effective to discourage European Starlings from roosting on sites such as ledges, roof beams, shopping center signs.

Trapping: Trapping starlings can be a successful control alternative in locations where a resident population is causing localized damage or where other techniques may not be used. Two types of traps effective for starling control are nest-box traps and decoy traps.

Text References

Koenig, W. D. 2003. European starlings and their effect on native cavity-nesting birds. Conservation Biology 17(4), 1134-1140.

Lynch, J.A. and T.A. Messmer. 2010. Wildlife Damage Management Series: European Starlings. Utah State University Cooperative Extension. Accessed 16 Nov. 2010:

Weitzel, N. H. 1988. Nest-site competition between the European starling and native breeding birds in northwestern Nevada. Condor, 515-517.

Zielinski, S. 2011. The invasive species we can blame on Shakespeare. Accessed 23 June 2020:

Data Source

Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2009. European Starling. Accessed 16 Nov. 2010:

USDA. 2010. European Starling. National Invasive Species Information Center. Accessed 16 Nov. 2010:

Last Updated: 09-12-2011 by Amber Bartelt - Sam Houston State University