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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

European Starling -- Sturnus vulgaris
(formerly Starling)

RANGE: Introduced to North America from Europe. Breeds from southeastern Alaska and the southern half of all Canadian provinces south to Mexico, the Gulf of Mexico, and southern Florida. Still uncommon in some recently occupied parts of the Southwest and the Rocky Mountains, but continues to expand range. Migrates sometimes in the northern part of the range.

STATUS: Abundant in most of its range.

HABITAT: Occupies a great variety of habitats from suburban to rural and woodlands wherever suitable nesting sites occur. Appears to favor thickly settled agricultural areas and tends to avoid dense forests away from human habitation.


NEST: Normally selects an old woodpecker or natural cavity in trees, utility poles, or fence posts but is extremely adaptable in its choice of nest sites. Usually nests earlier than many other cavity nesters and may be a serious competitor for available nest cavities.

FOOD: Generally forages on the ground. Is sometimes considered a serious agricultural pest in some areas because it eats practically all grains, digs up sprouting seeds, and eats livestock feed. However, is considered beneficial in some areas because more than half of the diet is animal material, including clover weevils, cutworms, and japanese beetles. Also eats a variety of domestic and wild fruits.

REFERENCES: Forbush and May 1955, Kalmbach 1928, Kessel 1953, 1957, Planck 1967, Royall 1966, Small 1974.

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