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Baby Starling: Here's All You Need To Know

Written by Garrett Hayes

Last updated on Mar 22nd, 2024
baby starling - featured image

Need to brush up on some info on baby starlings? Well, you've come to the right place! Let's discuss all there's to know about baby bird starlings - from their appearance and identification to their nesting habits, baby and adult starling diet, and so on.

Let's start with some basic information about baby bird starlings!

Basic Information

Baby starling birds are also known as nestlings or chicks. The juvenile birds of the starling species are raised by their parents until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Starlings are part of the Sturnidae family. This makes them close relatives to around 120 other species, including mynas.

Starlings are highly versatile and thus widely distributed.

The European starling species are widespread in the UK, western and southern Europe, North America, and some parts of Asia. Recognized easily by their dark grey pin feathers coupled with light grey plumage, these birds are known for their adaptability, intelligence, and ability to mimic sounds.

Physical Appearance of a Baby Starling

You've probably seen starling chicks or at least pictures of them. But if you're not acquainted with how a juvenile starling looks, we're here to help! Newly hatched juvenile starlings are mostly naked, with pink or gray skin and a few sparse feathers on their young bird bodies.

A starling chick looks nothing like an adult.

As they grow, they get more feathers, and then a complete plumage. At first, the juvenile starling plumage appears as short, grayish-brown tufts. By the time a baby starling bird is ready to leave the nest, its feathers will have grown to cover its entire body.

European starling chicks differ from adults in their overall size and appearance. They are smaller than adult starlings and their naked pink skin is visible at birth. Juvenile starling chicks also have a more rounded body shape.

Their feathers appear scruffy or disheveled as they grow. Also, young starlings may have a less defined or paler coloration compared to adult starlings.

Terms Are Used to Describe Young Starlings

Wondering "What is a baby starling called?"

Juvenile starling chicks may be called "nestling." This is a general term used to describe baby birds still in the nest, including starling babies. Once young starlings fledge (i.e., can leave the nest) and can move around, they are referred to as "fledglings."

However, a young starling fledgling is still dependent on its parents for food and protection. But at this stage, starling babies are capable of hopping, walking, and eventually flying. Soon enough, the chicks will leave their starling's nest.

Spotting a Starling Nest in the Wild

Starlings are cavity nesters. They nest in cavities such as tree hollows, crevices in buildings, or nest boxes. Since starlings are highly adaptable, they can nest in a variety of urban and rural environments.

If you want to observe a bunch of young European starling nestlings, zoom in on starling nests with your binoculars. Look for nesting sites with young starling nestlings in trees or other elevated areas with crevices.

Size of a Baby Starling

The size of young starling changes with its age. As a young starling phases through different developmental stages, it increases in size.

Starling younglings are born underdeveloped.

Newly hatched starlings measure around 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.2 cm). As they grow and develop (from nestling to fledgling starlings), their size increases. By the time baby starlings fly, they measure around 7 to 8 inches (17.8 to 20.3 cm).

Average Weight of a Baby Starling

Wondering "How much does a baby starling weigh?"

Well, wonder no more! As with size, the weight of a baby European starling also varies with age. A newly hatched baby starling typically weighs around 0.4 to 0.6 ounces (11 to 17 grams). As it grows, it gains weight.

Just before fledging, it can weigh between 1.2 to 2.3 ounces (34 to 65 grams).

How Do Starlings Parent Their Children?

Starlings are highly social birds and exhibit cooperative breeding behavior. Both starling parents take part in feeding and caring for their young. They gather food for their chicks, protect the nest, and keep the babies warm.

Starlings are very good parents and dutifully care for their young.

So, what do baby starlings eat? Since European starling juveniles are underdeveloped and can't feed on their own, their parents regurgitate food into their mouths.

This food is a mixture of partially digested soft-shelled insects and small soft-bodied invertebrates. But as the chicks grow, the parents introduce more solid food, such as the best types of seeds, fruits, berries, small invertebrates (like cranefly larvae), and larger insects.

When Are Baby Starlings Born?

Baby starlings are typically born during the spring and summer months. The exact timing can vary depending on the geographic location and local climate. Since these months are the comfiest for younglings, that's when starlings mate.

Starlings breed during cozy (not so hot, not too cold) months.

In temperate regions, starlings usually breed between March and July; the nesting activity peaks in April and May.

Egg-laying starling adults roost communally (with naked bellies) and incubate their eggs for 11 to 14 days. Both parents incubate their eggs. Once the starling eggs hatch, the parents in starling colonies continue to care for the nestlings until they can survive on their own.

Appearance of Starlings Throughout Their Life Cycle

Starlings transition from hatchlings to fledglings and then to adults. The hatchlings (when the chicks hatch from starling eggs) are initially naked and dependent on their parents for warmth and food. As they grow into fledglings, they develop light grey feathers and can move around to explore their surroundings.

Fully grown starlings are more beautifully colored and less round.

Adult starlings have a sleek appearance. You can recognize them owing to their iridescent black flight feathers and yellow beak. They have a characteristic speckled appearance caused by white tips on their feathers which sets them apart from other birds.

When Do Baby Starlings Leave Their Parents?

Baby starlings usually take their first flight when they are around 18 to 21 days old. Before they fledge, they spend some time exercising their wings by flapping them vigorously. And when they're ready, they take to the skies (but don't stray too far).

Fledging marks the beginning of their independence from the nest site. At 21 days old, a fledgling can take to the skies. They usually leave the nest at around 21 to 23 days old, but it can be earlier too.

Fledglings, though active, don't live independently.

They continue to receive care and food from their parents for some time. During this time, they learn to forage and survive independently. The parents continue to feed and care for them, all the while teaching them survival skills.

In most cases, baby starlings stay with their parents for about 2 to 3 weeks after fledging.

Do Starlings Reuse Nests?

The answer is both yes and no.

Starlings usually build new nests each breeding season rather than reusing existing ones. They put together cup-shaped nests using twigs, pine needles, fine grass, and other materials. When selecting sites, they choose one that offers safety and proximity to food sources.

There are occasional instances of nest reuse, but this is not the norm.

Their territorial nature and the desire for clean, structurally sound nests compel them to start fresh each year. However, if suitable nesting sites are scarce, they may renovate and reuse old nests by adding new materials or modifying the structure.

Do Starlings Mate For Life?

While starlings exhibit monogamous behavior during the breeding season, these bonds are temporary. The mating couple stays together for no longer than that specific period.

So no, starlings do not mate for life.

For the next breeding seasons, starlings may choose new partners. Courtship rituals play a significant role in mate selection. However, the mating commitment does not last beyond the duration of a single breeding season.

Some Interesting Facts About Baby Starlings

  • Baby starlings are called nestlings.
  • They are born naked, blind, and completely dependent on their parents for survival.
  • Baby starlings can double their weight in just 24 hours.
  • Both parents take turns feeding the nestlings.
  • Starling parents are highly dedicated to caring for their young.
  • They diligently guard the nest and even defend it from predators.
  • Starlings may evict other birds or take over their nests, including those of other starlings; this behavior is often seen in urban areas where nesting spots are limited.
  • Young starlings imitate their parents' calls, gradually developing their songs.
  • After leaving the nest, fledgling starlings often join larger groups of other young birds.
  • By around 4-5 weeks of age, young starlings become more independent; they continue to refine their flying skills and foraging abilities, eventually becoming self-sufficient.

Bottom Line: Here’s What to Do if You Find a Baby Starling

If you find a baby starling that appears healthy and uninjured, in its nest, it's best to leave it alone. Starling parents are highly attentive and more than capable of caring for their young. If the baby has fallen out of its nest, gently place it back.

But if you suspect that the baby starling is in immediate danger or injured, you must act. In such a situation, call the local wildlife rehabilitators or bird rescue organizations for guidance and assistance.

Avoid handling or attempting to raise a baby starling yourself. You need proper knowledge and experience in avian care to be able to help starling younglings. If you just want to observe, you can do so from a distance, and even take some photos while you're at it!

FAQs

What should I do if I find a baby starling?

If you find a starling chick, first see if it is injured, in immediate danger, or in need of assistance. If the baby is healthy, uninjured, and safe, it is best to leave it alone. But if that's not the case, contact a local bird rescue organization.

What does a baby starling look like?

Newly hatched baby starlings in the nesting site are completely naked. They develop feathers as they grow into fledged young. These start as short, grayish-brown downy tufts and later become proper contour feathers.

I found a baby starling that fell out of its nest; what should I feed it?

Do not try to feed a baby starling without proper knowledge and guidance. If the baby starling appears healthy and uninjured, try putting it back in its nest if possible. Otherwise, contact a wildlife rehabilitator for advice on proper feeding and care.

Is it okay to keep a starling as a pet?

No! In many countries, it is illegal to keep native wild birds, including starlings, as pets without proper permits. If you fancy them, get a pair of binoculars and appreciate them in their natural habitat instead.

Where can I find Starling nests?

You can spot starling nests in cavities such as tree holes or crevices in buildings; you can even set up nesting boxes in your backyard. You can find nests in both urban areas and rural landscapes.

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