In the 1890s, approximately 100 starlings were introduced to New York as an invasive species. Since then, the bird's numbers have soared over 200 million and they can be found from Alaska to Mexico. Adaptable, resilient, and intelligent, starlings negatively affective native populations of hole-nesting birds, like bluebirds and species of woodpeckers, by aggressively running them out of their natural habitats. They travel in large flocks and forage in open fields for their favored food source: insects.
Chunky and roughly blackbird-sized, starlings grow between 7 and 9 inches (20 and 23 cm) in length and weigh about 3 ounces (about 90 g). They have strong jaws and long, pointed beaks that are well suited to plucking insects out of the ground. Starling feathers are dark, usually black, and change depending on the season, displaying white spots in the winter and glossy sheens in the summer. Their wings are triangular, short, and pointed. During flight, starlings resemble four-pointed stars, hence their name.
Starlings require three features of all their habitats: open, grassy areas for feeding, water sources, and several trees or buildings with suitable nesting cavities. So long as these requirements are met, starlings will gather in large numbers. Favored environments include cities, ranches, farms, open woodlands, fields, and lawns. The birds avoid dense forests, scrublands, and deserts.
Are starlings known to enter homes or yards?
Residential lawns offer starlings an abundance of some of their favorite foodstuffs, including grasshoppers, beetles, flies, caterpillars, snails, earthworms, and spiders. As such, the pest birds set up nests in ornamental lawn tree cavities, holes in buildings, and any other available nook or cranny that provides suitable protection. They tend to construct their homes on the outsides of buildings as opposed to nesting in attics, like many other species of birds.
Do starlings harm people or property?
As an invasive species, starlings cause their fair share of destruction. Since they enjoy eating fruits like grapes, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, and apples, they are often considered agricultural nuisances. Additionally, starlings make trouble on farms where livestock are kept by stealing food and spreading diseases. When they gather in particularly large numbers, starling flocks riddle golf courses, lawns, and parks with holes while they forage, damaging costly landscaping. Finally, their droppings are odorous and contribute to the spread of the respiratory disease histoplasmosis.
Control and Safety
Many products designed to keep various species of birds from nesting in residential areas are available for purchase. Mesh netting and bird spikes can be used to keep starlings from accessing favored nesting areas while scare tactics, like flashing lights and loud noises, frighten the birds away from the general area. Property owners can also employ several preventative measures to make environments less favorable to starlings. Helpful actions include sealing off any openings on the exteriors of buildings greater than one inch in diameter, trimming tree branches, fitting outdoor trash bins with lids, keeping gutters clean of debris, and eliminating sources of pooling water.
Trapping and Removal
Starlings become aggressive when they feel threatened, and approaching them is unnecessarily dangerous. If flocks of the pest bird are causing problems, Critter Control technicians should be called to eradicate infestations. Industry tools and extensive training keep our specialists safe throughout the removal process.
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