Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Startling Starlings

Many of us in Missouri are familiar with the Starling. This non-native bird is aggressive, gregarious and a true nuisance to many. Hog farmers hate them for the TGE disease they spread to their pigs. Bird lovers even dislike them because they push many of our lovely native species out of nesting sites and away from the bird seed we provide for them. Nothing is more irritating to have spent a small fortune on special bird seeds for all the lovely song birds and to look out your window expecting to see Chick-A-Dees or maybe a Tufted Titmouse only to see a flock of large starlings. While I am in agreement that these birds can be frustrating. I've been waging my own war with them for many years as they take over my Purple Martin houses each spring in large numbers. No amount of nest removing seems to deter them in the least. I lower the Martin house, remove the nests, throw out any eggs that are present , raise the nest, only to repeat the process later that night....ERRRR! I guess they should be admired for the tenacious survival skills they possess. An enterprising gentleman from England brought a pair of these birds to the United States as they reminded him of home. These birds subsequently escaped and the rest in history! In the winter these birds are speckled with yellow spots all over, in the spring they gain their breeding plumage and are a glossy blue-black. Many people mistake them for the Common Grackle. The main way to tell the difference....Grackles have LONG tails and white eyes, Starlings have SHORT tails and dark eyes. While the Starling may not be very many peoples favorite birds, I guess we should cut them a little slack, after all they are just doing what comes natural---surviving anyway they can.


  1. I heard they came over with people who wanted to populate the new world with all the birds mentioned by Shakespeare.

  2. I had heard that too. Depending upon what sources you read you get different stories. Maybe they were people who missed home who loved Shakespeare? LOL