Starlings are passerine birds from the Sturnidae family and have over a hundred species.
They have sophisticated vocals that integrate sounds from the environment into their calls and prefer living in flocks for better chances of detecting and evading predators.
You will notice them leaving their feeding grounds at dusk in winter to gather for some communal roosting.
Some find it confusing to hear people talking and researching about how to get rid of starlings like they're some pest. The truth is, many individuals find them undesirable because of their hostile behavior that you will often witness when they fight for scraps at bird feeders.
If you're one of those who'd like to know how to get rid of starlings favorably, then keep reading. We'll discover more about these birds, from appearance to behavior, and apply these new learnings to establish practical ways of getting rid of starlings once and for all.
- Getting To Know More About Starlings
- The Starling Subspecies
- Similar Species To The Starling
- Highly Compelling Techniques In Getting Rid Of Starlings
- How To Keep Starlings Away From Bird Feeders
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
Getting To Know More About Starlings
They have glossy black feathers with a metallic purple to greenish sheen and bright yellow bills during summer and spring. Their white and gold speckles and beaks that turn into a deeper shade are noticeable during winter.
They have huge eyes, excellent vision, make varying noises like incoherent clicking sounds or whistles while in flight, and capable of moving independently. Unlike their colors that make seasonal changes, you can identify starlings from native blackbirds by their triangular wings and short tails that remain consistent for all seasons.
Starlings can be seasonal breeders; they’re inclined to pick whatever they find edible and like feeding on insects and berries. These birds are also frequent visitors of trash cans and bird feeders, forages on trees sometimes, but they would mostly prefer walking on the ground. However, they stay away from inhabiting dense woodlands, farms, and rainforests.
The remarkable adaptability in choosing a habitat contributes to this invasive species' success. Only a few birds are as flexible as these starlings. They can flourish well in various environments like towns, cities, and open grasslands with shrub covers.
They are very skillful in decorating their nests in tree cavities, wherein the male chooses and builds the nest before finding its mate. Once the female starling accepts the male as its mate, they will use the same nest for breeding. After that, the female will yield about four or more medium-sized eggs, which both parents will feed after hatching.
You will witness a breathtaking view when these starlings display incredible aerial maneuvers together with thousands of other birds. It happens once they leave their feeding grounds at dusk in winter to gather for some communal roosting.
Although starlings are famous for being bold scavengers and belligerent behaviors, these same traits can provide them the advantage of prospering in their environments. They are highly competitive and will have no second thoughts dominating any space to create their nests or when food sources are available.
Conflict With Humans
Many people think about getting rid of starlings because of their reputation of creating problems for humans. Predominantly, starling flocks or murmurations are noisy and sometimes join other blackbirds in causing severe damage to farming crops. They damage drying fruits and consume grains in storage areas or poultry farms, resulting in a significant revenue loss for agriculturists.
Furthermore, starling droppings can elicit several medical concerns like histoplasmosis or fungus-caused infection, salmonella, chlamydia, and more. These droppings are also strongly acidic enough to cause substantial harm to buildings and other structures. Aside from that, they forge nests in private properties, which may cause sanitation problems.
Check out this short video of a stunning display of starlings murmuration:
If you're still wondering how a seemingly harmless bird can become such a nuisance, then probably it's also worth noting that starlings are detrimental to wildlife. Their aggression drove away native cavity nesters, even killed some of them, and repels other birds from visiting.
Sometimes, they even cause aviation interference resulting in airplane collisions. Hence, we can never blame those individuals who'd do anything to learn how to keep starlings away finally.
The Starling Subspecies
There are over a hundred species of birds belonging to the starling family. The most famous genus is the “Sturnus,” which has different subspecies. In Asia, people call these species Myna, especially the larger ones. Birds from this family are generally noisy and friendly. They’re experts in mimicking other species and like inhabiting open spaces.
These birds populate a broad range of territories. The common starling, which is more renowned as the European starling in the US, has different subspecies in its native range: Europe, Southwest Asia, and Northern Africa. Contrarily, the introduced range are North America, Central America, South Africa, New Zealand, the Caribbean, and Australia.
Here are the starling subspecies:
- European starling
- Faroe starling
- Shetland starling
- Azores starling
- Siberian starling
- Black Sea starling
- Eastern Turkey starling
- Caucasian starling
- Central Asian starling
- Hume's starling, or Afghan starling
- Himalayan starling
- Sindh starling
Similar Species To The Starling
Common Grackle: A sociable bird commonly seen in large groups with starlings, blackbirds, and cowbirds. Similar to the starling, the common grackle also belongs to the order of Passeriformes. Learn more about the differences between grackles and starlings.
Blackbird: A blackbird is a native of Europe that has a broad range of habitats. Most people also consider it a pest for its negative impact on natural ecosystems.
Highly Compelling Techniques In Getting Rid Of Starlings
Starlings are invasive species with disruptive behavior and negatively impact the ecological balance, making them unpopular and avoided by many. Keep in mind that starling control is a process, but you can prevent them from causing damage to your property with the following steps:
Eliminate All Possible Sources Of Food
When a starling sees a property with great potential for food sources, it will most likely make that area its home. You can start by removing feeders and leftover foods, keeping the trash bin closed, and securing pet food storage. Clean up any fruits that fell to the ground due to the wind to avoid providing them with easy meals.
If you have a garden, use a net to cover shrubs and trees that bear fruits. You can also try installing a mesh wire around your garden to prevent starlings from feeding on rotten fruits and vegetables.
Recognize The Presence Of Active Nests
Hearing some scratching or shuffling sounds is one indicator that there might be an active nest in an area. The federal law prohibits removing nests or birds, but first, you would need to determine the kind of bird that's nesting in your property. Consequently, it will be easier to figure out what actions to take depending on specific laws in your area.
If your local law allows you to remove nests from these invasive species, you can gradually eliminate the nesting materials to discourage the starlings from nesting in your space.
You can halt a starling invasion in its tracks by trimming your trees regularly and taking off excess branches, especially those that lead up to your roof. You don’t necessarily need to sever the whole tree because we’re only trying to remove anything that will entice the starlings to your home.
Starlings have a knack for decaying trees, so it will help to trim some tree branches, especially cone-bearing ones, to minimize their appeal to roosting starlings. Doing so will also make the starlings feel uneasy about staying there since they will feel more exposed and cause them to look for shelter in other places.
Obstruct Nesting Areas
Deprive these invasive birds the opportunity for accessible nesting spots. You may opt for nest boxes with smaller entry holes, at least an inch shorter, to discourage starlings from dwelling in them. Keeping the number of possible nesting spots to a minimum can limit the population by reducing potential hatching spaces.
You can use a small stick to disrupt a starling that’s currently trying to build a nest. However, if a nest is already in place and occupied, do not attempt to remove it. You will need to check first how the federal law applies to the specific bird species nesting on your property before taking action. Seeking professional help is also another option you can consider.
Look for old tree crevices and corners that the starlings can use as their nest. Secure a tight seal or install a barrier at all potential points of entry. Moreover, using bird spikes or bird nets in roofs or drainage pipes can prevent these birds from entering such areas to use as a nesting spot.
You can also apply baking soda or sticky glues in edges where these birds typically congregate as a countermeasure. The absence of easily accessible roosting spots will discourage these birds from staying in your area and make them want to move to another place.
If you’re looking for safe methods on how to deter starlings, there are various approaches that you can try to scare them away. Using visual distractions is one way to keep the birds from landing on your property. You can try using a rubber snake, scarecrow, hawk, or owl statuses, scare balloons, and shiny objects like holograms as decoys.
Nevertheless, this approach will be more effective if you use moving objects or at least one that appears to move. The more of these you can have on your property, the better chances you have in keeping the birds at bay.
Another scare tactic is using sound deterrents like predator hunting sounds, shotgun sounds, and an audio of birds in distress. To increase such devices’ efficiency, choose one that enables you to change the frequency, sequence, and duration. It is more likely to yield positive results if the birds will not get used to hearing the same sound.
How To Keep Starlings Away From Bird Feeders
These bully birds are unwelcome visitors of bird feeders because they scare off native bird species. Here are several options you can try to dissuade these invasive birds from visiting bird feeders without discouraging our favorite backyard birds:
Choose The Best Position For Your Bird Feeder
The presence of humans can intimidate a flock of starlings, so with that in mind; you can try placing your feeders in areas where there is more human activity. Choose to spread your bird feeders around the site instead of having them all together in one place. Placing bird feeders this way will give the native birds enough space to back off if predators visit them.
Get Yourself A Reliable Starling Proof Bird Feeder
There are various hanging feeders with modifiable perches that automatically block access to the seed port once a heavy bird lands on it. Tube feeders with no bottom trays are better than using platform feeders. The starlings will find a tray-less tube feeder less appealing since it doesn't provide them with a place to stand; therefore, they can't eat comfortably.
You may also install a screen around your feeders or use a caged bird feeder, so only smaller birds can get to the feeding area. Place the seed port several inches away from the feeder’s entry point so that the bullies can’t use their long bills to reach for the seeds. It’s either you opt for starling proof bird feeders or at least modify the existing ones.
Consider The Food Types You Place In Feeders
Avoid bird seed mixes of wheat, oats, millet, rice, corn, and peanut hearts to avoid attracting the bully birds. Switch these mixes with in-shell peanuts, nyjer seeds, and safflower seeds instead. Choosing a food type that starlings won’t eat will have them looking elsewhere for the foods they like.
Catch Falling Seeds
There are times when using a starling proof bird may not be enough to keep the starlings away. You can’t deny that even as annoying the starlings may seem, they are intelligent creatures too. They sometimes forage foods that other birds drop on the ground, which is why it’s best to place a bin beneath the hanging feeder to catch falling bird seeds.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to get rid of starlings?
Making a significant switch in food type and using the right kind of feeders will discourage the starlings from inhabiting your space. The absence of a good food source and a nesting place will make the starlings look for other areas to have both.
How do you get rid of starlings and keep birds?
Choose foods that starlings would never pay attention to, or at least refrain from refilling your feeders with birdseed mixes that starlings love. It is the best way to continue feeding the other birds while creating an environment that starlings will find uninviting.
Will a fake owl keep starlings away?
Using a fake owl is one way of providing a visual distraction that can keep the starlings away.
However, this may not be a long-term solution unless you use a moving decoy or one that appears to move. Combining the use of visual and auditory scare devices might be more effective. You may also try switching devices regularly instead of using one for optimal results.
Remember that your tenacity and consistency can make a significant contribution when driving out invasive species. Nevertheless, we sure hope that you find these pointers useful in dissuading unwelcome visitors in your yard.
The starlings can be fascinating, so if they don’t threaten other birds and only make annoying noises, then maybe you can also consider having them around. If you don’t find this as a viable option, try to halt providing supplemental foods momentarily. There’s no need to worry about the friendly songbird visitors since natural sources will still be available.
You’re dealing with an aggressive bird colony; hence, it’s best to pair these practical solutions with preventive measures as well so these starlings are less likely to come back. Once you exhausted all means, and the problem continues to persist, please do not hesitate to seek professional help.