Starling

Pest Stats
Colour:
Highly speckled iridescent coat - Dark to black with a greenish sheen
Legs:
2
Shape:
Bird
Size:
Height 18cm–21cm Weight 56g–85g
Antennae:
No
Region:

Brief:

The starling is a dark chunky bird. It is distinguished from the other black birds by its short tail and its longer, slender bill. Starling’s plumage varies depending on the season. In winter the bird displays a highly speckled iridescent coat and a dark bill. In summer the bird’s coat dulls and has far fewer speckles. It is a muscular bird and starlings can be very aggressive and will dive on native birds out of their territory. Starlings are well noted for their flocking habits. They often gather in tens of thousands, creating nuisance when roosting in populated areas.

Habits

Common Starlings are most often seen searching for seeds and insects on lawns and in paddocks. Other food includes spiders, worms, human scraps and fruit crops. Birds feed mainly on the ground and often in vast flocks. During breeding season, the large winter flocks of Common Starlings break up into pairs or small groups. The nest is an untidy cup of grasses, leaves, twigs and items of human rubbish. Nest sites are any type of hollow, such as tree hollows and house roof voids. The birds are aggressive when competing for nesting sites and readily drive out native species. The pale blue eggs are incubated by both sexes, which also raise the young birds. Often two broods are raised in a season.

Habitat

In Australia, the Common Starling has become a familiar sight around human habitation throughout the east and South East. Once a common bird of European deciduous woodlands (now in more rural and urban areas), the common starling was introduced into Australia in the late 1850s through to 1870. It has become well established and is expanding its range.

Threats

Starlings rank just behind the pigeons and sparrows as an urban bird pest. Starlings can be a nuisance in both urban and rural areas due to their nesting, eating and living habits. When the bird is in a flocking phase, thousands of starlings often overwhelm buildings and trees. Large local scale build-up of faeces from these flocks can lead to structural damage. The uric acid in the faeces can erode stone, metal and masonry. Gutters and drainage pipes clogged with starling nests often backup, causing extensive water damage. The bacteria, fungal agents and parasites in the faeces also pose as a health risk.

Prevention

Starlings roosting habits can be modified permanently using mesh, spikes, netting and/or electrical barrier systems. For large flocks these birds can be moved with well-timed, organized scare campaign using strategically placed sophisticated audio systems which combine natural and electronic sounds like species specific distress calls, predator hunting/attack sequences and canon or shotgun sounds. Combine this audio system with lights and visual frightening devices that flash such as scare eye balloons.

Others

Photos and information are provided by GlobeAustralia.

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