They're from across the pond | Lifestyles | theadanews.com – Theadanews


Clear skies. Low around 70F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph..
Clear skies. Low around 70F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph.
Updated: August 13, 2022 @ 8:14 pm
Clear skies. Low around 70F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph..
Clear skies. Low around 70F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph.
Updated: August 13, 2022 @ 8:14 pm
An adult male starling gathers nesting materials in late March. This was early in the breeding season and his breeding plumage was almost complete. Males select sites and build nests, then do their best to find a female who will accept him and his site.
An adult starling, left, and its offspring perch in a tree. The juvenile bird is close to attaining its adult plumage. Take note of its light brown crown, that is the color the bird is overall before adult plumage takes over.

An adult male starling gathers nesting materials in late March. This was early in the breeding season and his breeding plumage was almost complete. Males select sites and build nests, then do their best to find a female who will accept him and his site.
An adult starling, left, and its offspring perch in a tree. The juvenile bird is close to attaining its adult plumage. Take note of its light brown crown, that is the color the bird is overall before adult plumage takes over.
I’m not a big fan of this week’s featured creature, the European starling.
If the species had remained in Europe, where it is just called “starling,” then I would be. It’s a beautiful bird, and there are other admirable qualities about this species.
However, in North America, they are invasive. And almost certainly no other bird has been more destructive to native wildlife as European starlings.
They displace native cavity nesters such as bluebirds, owls and woodpeckers. The National Audubon Society reports that large flocks can damage crops and their waste can spread invasive seeds and transmit disease.
The starling causes $800 million in agricultural damage annually in the United States, according to Audubon.
The starling — along with the house sparrow and the rock dove (pigeon) — are some of the few birds in the United States that aren’t protected by federal law, because they are invasive.
Invasive is typically defined as a species that is not native to an area and is threatening to the local ecosystem, local economy and/or human health.
It’s a shame, because the starling is truly fascinating. As mentioned previously, it’s a beautiful bird, which makes some of the strangest sounds in the bird world, if you ask me. They often sound like droids from the “Star Wars” movies. They are also very intelligent.
The European starling was introduced into the United States by a group of people called The American Acclimatization Society in New York’s Central Park in the early 1890s.
The group intentionally released 100 starlings because they wanted America to have all the birds that were ever mentioned by William Shakespeare.
Today, the more than 200 million European starlings which range from Alaska to Mexico came from those 100 birds. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology reports that, because of this, starlings from Virginia are nearly indistinguishable genetically from starlings sampled in California, 3,000 miles away.
Appearance
During the breeding season, adult starlings have brilliant plumage. It has dark feathers overall which have a purple and green iridescence. They have orange legs and a yellow beak. An adult nonbreeding starling has light spots all over. In winter, adults become brownish with light spots and the beak darkens. Young birds are light brown overall, but darken and become spotted as they get older.
Starlings have somewhat short, triangular wings. In flight, the have the appearance of a four-point star, hence the name.
Range
Everywhere in the lower United States. Also in most of Canada, and portions of Alaska and Mexico.
Food
Starlings eat a variety of insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars and flies. They also eat spiders, snails and earthworms, along with seeds and berries,
especially in fall and winter. They are attracted to feeders, and they will quickly gobble up seed and suet.
To deter starlings from suet cages, attach cages under a surface, an awning, for example. You can also buy or build starling-proof suet cages and holders.
The way they deter starlings is by making it where only more agile birds which can cling from the bottom of suet cages can feed. Starlings reportedly don’t like hang upside down on suet cages. Other suet holders have cages around them so only smaller birds can reach the suet.
Habitat
Cities, residential yards, parks, agricultural fields and other open areas. They tend to avoid heavily-wooded areas.
Nesting
The male starling selects a site and builds a nest. They often build nests in holes in trees, and in crevasses — including on buildings. Once the male creates a suitable nesting site, he perches high up and calls for females to inspect his home.
If the female finds the male and his place acceptable, they will pair up, mate and incubate and raise young together. They can raise two broods each year.
Odds and ends
– Some people keep captured starlings as pets and even teach them to mimic language. I was browsing YouTube once and a clip showed a starling that said “Merry Christmas” and sang “Pump Up the Volume … Dance, Dance!” I’m not even close to kidding. But there are many people who have talking starlings. If you have internet access, and are interested, you can search for talking starlings.
– Starlings are great vocal mimics and can learn the calls of up to 20 other different bird species.
(Editor’s Note: Randy Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. He has been an avid birdwatcher, nature enthusiast and photographer for more than 40 years. Reach him at rnw@usa.com.)
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