European Starling

European Starling
European Starling

Starling Invasion

The activities of humans can bring about spectacular changes in bird distribution. Starlings, for example, have been accidentally or deliberately introduced into numerous countries, and have become one of the most abundant bird species in the world. The importation of starlings into the United States was originally done for sentimental purposes. What people did not expect was the considerable damage that the starlings would bring upon the environment, other species, and humans.

The invasion started when sixty European Starlings were brought to the United States from England in 1860 and released in New York City's Central Park. The next year, forty more were released.

Starlings now cover the United States and are heading north into Canada and south into Mexico. There are now millions of starlings which are having a detrimental impact on native hole-nesting birds; i.e, bluebirds, purple martins, flickers and swallows to name a few.

Non-native Starlings versus Native Flickers

In our area, we have native Northern Flickers and during their breeding season, the flickers have a dark shadow that follows them everywhere. This dark shadow is the European Starling. Whenever the flickers try to nest in one of the flicker nest boxes, the starlings are there to take over the nest box. We shockingly watched a starling grab a flicker by the back as the flicker was entering its nest box. The starling brought the flicker to the ground. Two other starlings joined in to disable or kill the flicker, one trying to poke out the eyes of the flicker.

You can read more about the European Starling and other Natural Enemies in the Habitat Section where you will also find ways to attempt to control these invasive non-native species.

Starling Paté

One final potential benefit that we in the U.S. seem to have overlooked, is that of European Starlings as a food source. Starlings have been and continue to be harvested for food in the Netherlands, Spain and France; in France tinned starling paté (paté de sansonnet) is available in many stores, including airport duty free shops.

The list of ingredients for "paté de sansonnet" are: pork fat and liver, starling 20%, half starling, jelly, milk, salt, corn starch, Armagnac, juniper berries 0.5%, pepper, spices, sugars, seasonings and is sold in 4.59-ounce containers.