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European Starling - The Beautiful Bird Nobody Wants to See

Article and photos by Kathryn Mann

Shakespeare's Hamlet says the question is, "to be or not to be", but the answer for most of us about the European Starling is "not to be." This is a bird that we can actually blame Shakespeare for. It was American Shakespeare fanatic Eugene Scheiffelin, who had the terrible idea of introducing the European Starling to the United States because it was mentioned in Shakespeare's play Henry IV. Scheiffliein had 16 pairs of European Starlings released in New York City's Central Park in 1890, and their offspring have now increased to over 160 million and spread to every state except for Hawaii.

European Starling close up
The European Starling - a beautiful bird that we wish would go back to where it came from

European Starlings are about 9 1/2 inches in length. They are a short-tailed black bird with greenish and purple iridescence. They have a long pointed bill and cream-tipped feathers that look like they were painted by Gustav Klimt.

European Starling up close
European Starling enjoying an Oklahoma afternoon

European Starlings are disliked for many reasons. They often take over the nesting area of many native birds including Eastern Bluebirds, woodpeckers, and Purple Martins. Fruit growers hate them because they consume large amounts of grapes, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, figs, apples, and cherries. Corn farmers want to get rid of them because they eat ripening corn on the stalk. They also destroy large amounts of wheat.

European Starling detail
The elegantly attired European Starling

Some European Starlings have lived as long as 20 years.

European Starlings often mimic the songs of other Oklahoma birds including the Killdeer and the Eastern Meadowlark.

 
 

Comments:

Al27      12:58 AM Wed 11/30/2016

It is quite amazing how chatty they are, and how many different sounds they can make. A flock of them sounds like a high school cafeteria, with everyone talking at once. I can imagine them saying things like
"Hi Jennifer, a lot of worms around here, eh?" and so on
 

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Mandila      10:41 PM Sun 10/9/2016


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Freidimar      5:10 PM Mon 10/12/2015

they remind me of Crill ( Krill?) a fedeer fish for dolphin and other water mammals. The dolphin and other fish chase the fish into these very large balls ( hundreds of feet large) and then as the fish try to eat and the krill try to escape they morph into these beautiful calligraphic ribbons of fish.... I live by the lake and have seen the starlings play like this. It is very very beautiful . Thanks so much for sharing.
 

Julie      8:40 AM Mon 3/23/2015

They have taken over my bird feeder and chased away the other birds. Any suggestions? I am new to setting out feeders.
 

johninoklahoma      5:15 PM Sat 12/20/2014

John again. Also people back in the 60's around here used to say if you split a starlings tongue it could learn to talk. Like a Myrna bird. I was a kid and have no idea if it's true.
 

johndrumrightok      4:52 PM Sat 12/20/2014

We used to have a bunch of starlings here in central oklahoma. Now I look out and don't see any. I prefer native species but it still seems a mystery. Any answers out there? Dec 20th 2014.
 

johndrumrightok      4:50 PM Sat 12/20/2014

We used to have a bunch of starlings here in central oklahoma. Now I look out and don't see any. I prefer native species but it still seems a mystery. Any answers out there? Dec 20th 2014.
 

Campion S      5:37 PM Mon 12/15/2014

The main reasons people hate starlings is because of their horrid gawking sound and that they're a huge invasive species to other types of birds. Not to mention they crap a lot.
 

Campion S      5:37 PM Mon 12/15/2014

The main reasons people hate starlings is because of their horrid gawking sound and that they're a huge invasive species to other types of birds. Not to mention they crap a lot.
 

bri robertson      6:49 AM Sun 12/7/2014

I had a pet Starling for four years before he died suddenly and inexplicably in the night. To this day, he remains the smartest and sweetest bird I've ever met. RIP Shadow, love you so much buddy
 

Bethany      8:20 AM Wed 10/15/2014

The European starlings are so pretty. Why do people hate them so much? They never did anything to you.
 

B anderson      7:35 PM Wed 6/25/2014

I thought these birds were pest too but just wachted them go through my yard and garden. They eat every snail,slug and grub they could find. I think it's more of the native movement propaganda. I love these birds now.

 

Jemmygirl      12:51 PM Fri 3/14/2014

Ditza. You cant buy european starlings at stores, because they are considered "a Wild bird" so youll have to buy one on craigslist, or find one without a mom. -Jemmygirl<3

 

Ditza      9:20 AM Tue 3/4/2014

Where can you buy a starling if you want it as a pet?
 

Jemmygirl      3:44 PM Thu 2/20/2014

Hey everyone, Believe it or not European Starlings are very loyal ,and loving pets. this past summer i found an abandoned baby in my yard. to this day i still have him. His name is Seamus, and so far he has never left my side, and can say: Seamus, Shadow, Mama, and mock my fathers ringtone perfectly. When i make a kissy sound he squacks and flys to me where ever he is, and land on my shoulder. He loves taking showers in the tub, being petted, riding on the backs of my other animals, and loves being with me. I know European starlings have a bad reputation for attacking other birds, but in reality other birds do the same things. Im just saying that European starlings aren't as bad as everyone thinks they are. FUNFACT: European Starlings are from the mockingbird family.


--Jemmygirl<3
 

M Connell      6:27 PM Wed 11/27/2013

Wow, that is some ignorance. Not surprised though, many people have terrible misconceptions about starlings.

"The starling is one of the most effective bird enemies of terrestrial insect pests in this country!" Nearly half the starling's insect food consists of beetles –– weevils, ground beetles, and plant-feeding scarabaeids that can wipe out farmer's crops in NO TIME! From the viewpoint of the farmer the insect-feeding habits of the starling leave little to be desired. In its diet are some of the worst pests of garden and field. IN FACT many farmers are installing nests for them to protect their fields. -from The US Department of Agriculture's: Farmers' Bulletin No1571.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A recent report indicates that the beloved American robin is about twice as destructive of grapes and cherries as are starlings. Berries, grapes and cherries comprise just 2% of the Starling's diet.

As far as fighting for nest territory, in Europe the starlings nests are returned to year after year for generation after generation. When brought here they had to find new nests since they had no family ones of their own. A very simple solution would be to put up simple nesting boxes around your home or farm then your fields, gardens and lawns would be pest free and people and birds could all live in harmony.
 

Cherryl      1:14 PM Sun 11/24/2013

Obviously you are not aware of what humans can do Yaz! They do MUCH more damage than these birds, or any other non-human animals, do!
 

yaz      7:27 PM Thu 10/10/2013

Obviously you people don't know what these birds can do. They cause disease and have killed many animals. They also destroy crop fields and are extremely aggressive. Instead just saying how beautiful they are go do some research of your own and find out the truth.
 

Sara      8:03 PM Thu 8/1/2013

I love starlings and I think it's wrong to hate them it's not their fault they're here and they have feelings too. We brought them here, so we need to accept them. Introducing and then trying to get rid of them is like having a child and then killing it just because they're a "bad" kid.
 

R Dann      1:17 AM Fri 5/31/2013

nevertheless there are still people here in NZ who swear by the benefits of starlings and encourage them on their properties because they eat many of the bugs and grubs which destroy their crops.
 

R String      4:16 PM Mon 3/18/2013

These birds are beautiful but i have been doing some research and these birds are very dangerous and harmful to the environment
 

barelyb      3:29 PM Mon 10/15/2012

Currently in post-production on my documentary on these remarkable birds, "An Unwelcome Success: The European Starling in America". The address is http://www.unwelcomesuccess.com.
 

Aymi      12:33 PM Wed 9/26/2012

Hi guys i love these birds they are so bueatifullllll
 

Ami      12:26 PM Wed 9/26/2012

UI will not re-think that those stupid birds can go die in a hole!!
 

Bob Ponts      12:25 PM Wed 9/26/2012

hi ami i see that u do not like the birds but why do you dislike them so much wat did they do to you you are very rude abd unfair you should really re-think that Please Ami DONT BE RUDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Ami      12:56 PM Tue 9/25/2012

I Hate these birds losers
 

Danielle      12:54 PM Tue 9/25/2012

I personally think they r Beautifull and talented i want one!!!
 

Heather Travis      7:39 AM Thu 5/26/2011

I am raising a starling hatchling who's nest was destroyed, I am finding that they are very sociable birds, and after searching the Internet for info have found many, many videos of these birds "talking", apparently they are VERY adept at mimicking human speech and are owned by many people as pets, I am sincerely enjoying my pet starling :)
 

f kelley      4:34 PM Wed 5/18/2011

Thanks...I knew there were good reasons why I have never liked starlings!

 

Oztochane      12:09 AM Fri 11/5/2010

Does anyone out there collect the feathers?
 


Uplifting Visions
a guide to happiness, good health, and success
Charly Mann in a Hawaiian shirt
by Charly Mann

From the age of seven I have been enchanted with the idea of living happily ever after, and have made it a life quest to find that answer. I have spoken to hundreds of people – usually older and wiser than me, and read countless books and articles on the subject. In my website Uplifting Visions I share what I consider the best insights I have learned about achieving happiness in life.



Oklahoma Birds Listed by Color

Red
House Finch - male (carpodacus mexicanus)
Purple Finch - male (carpodacus purpureus)
Northern Cardinal - male (cardinalis cardinalis)
Painted Bunting - male (passerina ciris)
Summer Tanager - male (piranga rubra)

Orange
Baltimore Oriole - male (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - male (icterus spurius)

Yellow
Yellow Warbler (dendroica petechia )
Baltimore Oriole - female (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - female (icterus spurius)
Summer Tanager - female (piranga rubra)
Yellow Goldfinch - male (carduelis tristis)
Western Kingbird (tyrannus verticalis)
Eastern Meadowlark (sturnella magna)

Green
Malard - male (anas platyrhynchos)
Dark-eyed Junco - female (junco hyemalis)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (archilochus colubris)
Painted Bunting - female (passerina ciris)
Green Heron (butorides virescens)

Blue
Barn Swallow (hirundo rustica)
Belted Kingfisher (ceryle alcyon)
Blue Jay (cyanocitta cristata)
Blue Grosbeak - male (guiraca caerulea)
Eastern Bluebird (sailia sialis)
Indigo Bunting - male (passerina cyanea)
Purple Martin - male (progne subis)

Grey
Great Blue Heron (ardea herodias)
Carolina Chickadee (poecile carolinensis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (sitta canadensis)
Grey Catbird (dumetella carolinensis)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (regulus calendula)
Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher (tyrannus forficatus)
White-breasted Nuthatch (sitta carolinensis)
Tufted Titmouse (baelophus bicolor)
American Robin (turdus migratorius)
Northern Mockingbird (mimus polyglottos)
Mississippi Kite (ictinia mississippiensis)
Dickcissel (spiza americana)

Black
American Crow (corvus brachyrhynchos)
Brown-headed Cowbird - male (molothrus ater)
European Starling (sturnus vulgaris)
Common Grackle (quiscalus quiscula)
Red-winged Blackbird - male (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Towhee (pipilo maculatus)
Turkey Vulture (cathartes aura)

Black & White
American Bald Eagle (haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Black-billed Magpie (pica hudsonia)
Downey Woodpecker (picoides pubescens)
Red-Bellied Woodpecker (melanerpes carolinus)
Purple Martin - female (progne subis)
Eastern Kingbird (tyrannus tyrannus)
Dark-eyed Junco - male (junco hyemalis)
Loggerhead Shrike (lanius ludovicianus)

Brown
American Kestrel (falco sparverius)
Blue Grosbeak - female (guiraca caerulea)
Brown-headed Cowbird - female (molothrus ater)
Brown Thrasher (toxostoma rufum)
Common Nighthawk (chordeiles minor)
Carolina Wren (thryothorus ludovicianus)
Cedar Waxwing (bombycilla cedrorum)
Greater Roadrunner (geococcyx californianus)
Killdeer (charadrius vociferus)
Northern Bobwhite (colinus virginianus)
Red-tailed Hawk (buteo jamaicensis)
Cliff Swallow (petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
Horned Lark (eremophila alpestris)
House Finch - female (carpodacus mexicanus)
Northern Flicker (colaptes auratus)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (coccyzus americanus)
Mourning Dove (zenaida macroura)
Malard - female (anas platyrhynchos)
Purple Finch - female (carpodacus purpureus)
House Sparrow (passer domesticus)
Indigo Bunting - female (passerina cyanea)
Red-winged Blackbird - female (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Sandpiper (actitis macularia)
Upland Sandpiper (bartramia longicauda)
Northern Cardinal - female (cardinalis cardinalis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Yellow Goldfinch - female (carduelis tristis)
Canada Goose (branta canadensis)

Various
Wild Birds of Northeast OK

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