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Texas Invasive Species Institute

Texas Invasive Species Institute

European Starling

Sturnus vulgaris

Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Sturnidae

Sturnus vulgaris

Photographer: Snowmanradio Source: www.commons.wikimedia.org Copyright: CC BY-SA 2.0


The European Starling (Stumus vulgaris) is a stocky blackbird with a short tail and long, slender beak. In flight their wings are short and pointed,giving them a star-like appearance (and their name). At a distance, starlings appear black. In summer months they turn iridescent purplish-green with yellow beaks; in fresh winter plumage they are brown, covered in brilliant white spots.

Ecological Threat

This recent and extremely successful arrival to North America is a fierce competitor with blue birds, purple martins, woodpeckers, and other cavity nesting birds. European Starlings often take over the nests of native birds, expelling the occupants. With so many starlings around, this causes some concern about their effect on native bird populations.


Their ability to adapt to a variety of habitats produce two broods per season; and their diverse dietary preferences allows them to expand quickly.


Introduced in 1890 as part of a plan to introduce to the United States all birds mentioned in the works of Shakespeare

Native Origin

Native Origin: Europe

Current Location

U.S. Habitat: European Starlings are common in urban, suburban, and rural areas. They are ground feeders of lawns, fields, sidewalks, and parking lots. They perch and roost high on wires, trees, and buildings.

U.S. Present: Cosmopolitan in the United States


Rusty Blackbird, Brewer's Blackbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird


Exclusion: The most preferred and usually the most permanent solution: closing all openings larger that 1 inch with nylon or plastic netting European Starlings may be excluded from buildings or other structures.

Frightening: Frightening can be effective in dispersing starlings from roosts and other small sites. Visual frightening devices include scarecrows, mylar tape, hawk kites, and eye-spot balloons. Auditory frightening devices include recorded distress call tapes, pyrotechnics, and propane cannons.

Repellents: Soft, sticky repellents such as Roost-No-More, Bird Tanglefoot and 4-The-Birds are effective to discourage European Starlings from roosting on sites such as ledges, roof beams, shopping center signs.

Trapping: Trapping starlings can be a successful control alternative in locations where a resident population is causing localized damage or where other techniques may not be used. Two types of traps effective for starling control are nest-box traps and decoy traps.



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Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2009. European Starling.

Koenig, W. D. 2003. European Starlings and Their Effect on Native Cavity‚ÄźNesting Birds. Conservation Biology, 17(4), 1134-1140.

Lynch, J.A. and T.A. Messmer. 2010. Wildlife Damage Management Series: European Starlings. Utah State University Cooperative Extension.

European Starling. National Invasive Species Information Center.

Weitzel, N. H. 1988. Nest-site competition between the European starling and native breeding birds in northwestern Nevada. Condor, 515-517.

Withers, D.I. 2000. Origins of the European Starling in the United States. Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation

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