European Starling

Identification & Biology
Alias' : common starling
Latin Name : Sturnus vulgaris
Category : Birds
Description :

The starling is about 20 cm long and has glossy black plumage with a metallic sheen, which is speckled with white at some times of year. The legs are pink and the bill is black in winter and yellow in summer; young birds have browner plumage than the adults. It is a noisy bird, especially in communal roosts and other gregarious situations, with an unmusical but varied song.

Habitat

Starlings have successfully adapted to rural and urban habitats where they find nest cavities in man-made structures. They forage in small groups on lawns and fields with short vegetation. Large flocks forage in fields and farms in late summer through winter.

Impact & Risks

Large flocks typical of starlings can be beneficial to agriculture by controlling invertebrate pests; however, starlings can also be pests themselves when they feed on fruit and sprouting crops. Cherries, blueberries and grapes are favoured in addition to wild fruit. Starlings may also be a nuisance through the noise and mess caused by their large urban roosts.

Prevention & Mitigation
  •  Check farm buildings and residences for holes and cracks where starlings might nest
  • Seal holes with wood, hardware cloth or metal flashing
  • November to March is the best time to make repairs to ensure that bats are not trapped inside
  • Nail wire mesh over vent and duct holes
  • If starlings nest in trees, clean out the nests and nestlings
  • Clean up attractants such as spilt grain and spoiled fruit
Treatment & Disposal

Starling management is best done with a planned approach to evaluate the damage and decide whether a management technique is worth the costs and is effective. Management can include noise and visual deterrents, natural bird predators and netting.

Consult BC Ministry of Agriculture for guidance on assessing the economic costs and benefits of netting. Contact fruit producer groups to learn more about professional starling trapping and eradication programs in your area. The BC Grapegrowers’ Starling Trapping Program uses a team of professional trappers who use humane practices to carry out trapping.

Trapping is most successful in feedlots and other cattle operations. Once trapped, the birds are moved to an enclosed box and euthanized using carbon dioxide. The carcasses are distributed to bird rehabilitation centres and the remainder is composted.

Okanagan Distribution

Priority Level Definitions

Watch For - Poses a significant threat (very high risk) and does NOT presently occur in the region OR is relatively new to the region and is very limited in extent.
High - High risk/impact; limited population with significant potential to spread in the region.
Medium - Medium risk/impact; limited distribution – broader population distribution with potential to spread further in a region.
Low - Low risk/impact; may be widespread or not, may be of concern in specific situations with certain high values – e.g. specific agriculture crops. Some species may be treated primarily with biological control agents.