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Birds of the St. Croix River Valley: Minnesota and Wisconsin




Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Status: Introduced. Regular migrant, nesting species, and winter resident.

Migration: Abundant migrant in the Western Upland and Central Plain, less common in the Northern Highland. Dates of spring arrival are difficult to determine because of wintering individuals. However, large increases in the population occur from late February through 20 March. During fall migration, flocks begin forming in early August and peak movements occur 15 September to 15 October.

Nesting Season Distribution: Abundant nesting species in the Western Upland and Central Plain; uncommon and local in the Northern Highland. The first record of this species in the Valley was obtained from St. Croix County in 1937 (Anonymous 1939). Since that time, the starling population has expanded and the species now breeds throughout the Valley. Breeding Bird Survey data show that largest populations occur in areas heavily settled by humans and where agriculture has expanded. The mean number of starlings recorded along the route of the Dresser BBS (Polk County) is 44.3; however, in the heavily forested region traversed by the Union BBS route (Burnett County), this species was not recorded.

Winter: Common to locally abundant winter resident in the Western Upland, fairly common in the Central Plain, and uncommon to rare or absent in the Northern Highland. During this period, large flocks of starlings are associated with cattle feedlots or barnyards in agricultural areas, and near feedmills and feeder operations in residential areas.

Habitat: Starlings nest in a variety of vegetation types, and in residential buildings, or in nest boxes erected for other species. Starlings have been considered an important factor in the decline of several more desirable species including the red-headed woodpecker and eastern bluebird. Because starlings return to their breeding areas and establish territories earlier than other hole-nesting species, they dominate these nest sites before other migrants return.

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