courtesy of Rhonda
Can We Share?
This was taken at the St. Louis Zoo and was just amazing to watch. Every
time the prairie dog would pick up a piece of food the starling would
take it, and the funniest thing is the prairie dog never minded one bit.
He would just pick up another piece. The starling never finished any of
the stolen pieces because he kept getting new ones even if he had to drop
the last piece he took to get a new one. Neither the prairie dog nor the
starling was tame. ~ by Rhonda
Click on any topic title in the following list, or simply scroll down
to read them all.
this bird need help?
I keep it or let it go?
Will starling droppings give me a disease?
starlings need grit?
I give my starling earthworms?
can I get insect food for my starling?
did starlings get here?
do I get rid of starlings?
used for Starlings in other countries
names of starlings and other birds
this bird need help?
the birds have all their feathers then they are
fledglings and were ready to leave the nest. They
need to be on the ground a day or two as they
learn to fly. The parents will take care of them,
and it isn't true that if you touch a baby bird
the parents will abandon it. Unfeathered babies
can be returned to the nest. If the nest has been
destroyed, you can make a new one using something
such as a parrot nest box and wire; nail it close
to where the original one was. You should put
fully feathered babies in a bush or on a tree
limb, and they should be just fine. You might
want to ask any cat owning neighbors to keep the
cats in for a day or two to give the baby birds
a chance to learn how to fly. --
I keep it or let it go?
order for a bird raised in captivity to have a
good chance for survival, it must be raised in
such a manner to provide the best chance for it
to remain "wild" during the time when
it is most vulnerable to learning such behavior.
For rehabilitators whose goal is to return birds
to the wild, every attempt is made to provide
baby birds with a captive environment that is
conducive to release. This includes never raising
one bird by itself, having as little contact as
possible with the bird (except, of course, when
feeding!), not holding the bird when feeding it
(unless absolutely necessary), and keeping young
birds in a place where they can always view the
outdoors (and ideally, hear the outdoors as well.)
As hard as it may seem to understand, birds are
learning from everything they see, hear and feel
from the time they hatch. What they learn during
the first month of life determines a lot! In my
opinion, a starling's first month of life is roughly
the human equivalent of 12 years.
About release: In my experience, most people
who have raised a wild bird release them at the
wrong time (too soon) or in the wrong manner.
How a bird is released is just as important to
its survival as how you've raised it and what
type of nutrition it has had. A bird should be
a minimum of six weeks old before being released.
A young bird should be eating completely on its
own for at least two weeks (in my opinion) prior
to release. A bird should be outside in the largest
cage possible (ideally, an aviary) for at least
a week before it is released. It should be able
to return safely to that cage or aviary for food
and water until it is self-sufficient in the wild
which could take days, weeks or months.
Hunting/foraging is a natural instinct, but there
are so many behaviors necessary for survival that
young birds are taught by their parents, and the
parent birds can teach those things far better
than we can!
There is a difference between being "tame"
and being "imprinted". No matter, because
if a bird is raised alone from the time he's got
no feathers, even if not truly 'imprinted' (which
you cannot know for sure until the bird is a mature
adult,) he will probably be too tame to survive
in the wild, in my opinion!
If birds could talk, we'd know the answers to
what would make them the "happiest."
I don't think anyone can know with certainty the
answers to some questions. That is why I suggest
the following to you when you first acquire the
baby: Decide right now if you are able to make
the commitment to have your starling as a "pet"
for potentially up to 15 years! Decide now if
you want the starling for a pet, or if you want
it to be released.
you want it to be released -- find a wildlife organization/rehabilitator
to give him to. The baby must grow up with other birds in just the right
environment/setting, with specific stimuli necessary for the bird to be
If you want to keep him --the bird's behavior as an adult will
be different than it is now. In my opinion, birds who can fly should not
be kept in a cage, or at the very least, should be able to have some free
flight daily. Are you willing to clean up droppings every day? Starlings
interact with their own kind all day long, every day. So, this bird is
going to want to relate to you as one of his own kind (if imprinted).
How much time will you mom have to interact with this bird every day for
years and years (if you're lucky)?
It was important to decide these matters early on, as there is a big difference
in how one would raise a bird for release and how one would raise a bird
to be tame or to be a pet! -- by Loreen
starling droppings give me a disease?
article by Gautsch, S., P. Odermatt, et al. "The
role of starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in the epidemiology
of potentially human bacterial pathogens,"
in the scientific journal Schweizer Archiv
füür Tierheilkunde, 142(4): 165-72; 2000 Apr
ISSN: 0036-7281 evaluates the health risk coming
from starling droppings for the population, particularly
for the children and assesses the role of starlings
in the transmission of diseases to humans and
in the epidemiology of human diseases. This study
concludes that it seems rather improbable that
starlings present a direct source of infection
for human beings.
cant tell you what the 'right' way is, nor
can anyone else. The reality is there have been
no meaningful studies on the nutritional needs
of softbills in captivity. What we can give you
is antidotal information, on what does and doesnt
work in our experience, combined with the little
that is known about starlings' natural diets,
and basic nutrition.
little history on what we know about birds other than poultry: Back 20
years ago it was believed that the only food we needed to feed our parrots
was seed. The pet food manufacturers sold seed mixes with the statement
that they were 100% complete nutrition for your birds. Then Dr. Tom Roudybush,
at UNCDavis, did an in-depth study of normal grey cockatiels. It was this
study which found that parrots did need much more in the way of nutrition
than what was provided by seed and was the beginning of the pellet diet.
Without any additional studies the pet food manufacturers started making
pellets, on Dr. Roudybushes findings, again with the notice (100% complete
nutrition for your birds.) There was a total disregard for the fact that
parrots have different diets and different nutritional needs. It has only
been in the last 8 years or so that this has been recognized.
It is interesting to also note that although we know what the needs of
cockatiels are, some of the mutations, such as the lutino, are dying very
young of liver disease when fed pellets. There are quite a few theories
on why this is. The one that I tend to agree with is from a post from
Dr. Harrision (Harrison pellets.) He says: that cockatiels are desert
birds and the mutations have genetically weak livers from inbreeding,
so they are unable to handle the extra water they need to drink when on
an all pellet diet. So, you can see that even when the studies are done,
they will only pertain to that exact type of bird. --
read some somewhat negative opinions about softbill
food. Is it necessary? Could it be harmful?
Yes, I really believe that without supplementing
it with a complete protein it is harmful. If you
have read some of the messages on this board I
think you will find that most of the starlings
on pellet only diets have had problems. Pellet
food as far as I can tell, is nothing more than
parrot food with much of the iron removed. The
main ingredient is corn, which has little to offer
softbills such as starlings, who are close to
being insectivores. -- by
bread be soaked in water before feeding a bird so the stomach does not
bloat? Soaking is not necessary, but why give him something
with so little nutrition? Victoria's birdie
bread recipe would be a much better choice. --
I serve raw or cooked veggies to my bird? It
is true that veggies will lose some nutrients when cooked, especially
cooked in water. If veggies are steamed or microwaved, you will not lose
as many nutrients. Birds can digest raw carrots, however they will get
more vitamins from them if they are cooked a little. One reason for that
is the nutrients are encapsulated in a tough membrane that cooking helps
to break down. Birds do not have the digestive acids that we have and
depend on the grinding action of the gizzard. Another reason is that most
of the root vegetables have enzyme inhibitors which inhibit digestive
enzymes. Heat will inactivated them. -- by Jackie
am somewhat hesitant about feeding dog food because there might be too
much protein and iron in it. Is there a dog food that is better than others
birds need more protein than parrots. It was at
one time thought that too much protein caused
gout in birds, that is being disproved in recent
studies. The theory that normal amounts of dietary
iron causes Iron Storage Disease is also being
disproved. Several top researchers have tried
to cause Iron storage Disease with a normal diet
and have been unsuccessful. Toucans and mynahs
who have had the disease have been on low iron
diets all their lives, and birds that have been
on high iron diets all their lives never get it.
Sure, you can induce it by giving massive amounts
of iron, but you can cause clinical disease by
over loading with massive amounts of water as
well. (see Hemochromatosis)
I dont think there is any question that
European Starlings need an animal based protein
as a main part of their diet. --
is my opinion that birds should be provided with
a diet as close to their natural one as possible.
As about half of their natural diet is
Wild Diet of Starlings). I would suggest as
varied a diet as your starling will eat, including
mealworms. Sprinkle some powdered vitamin/mineral
supplement into the dish of mealworms (e.g., Petamine).
As for bread, I wouldn't worry a bit about it
"expanding". for I've never experienced
such a thing and have fed a variety of breads
to many species of birds over many years-especially
natural diet, this is from The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American
Birds: About half [of the diet] is insects. Diet consists of weevils,
beetles, cutworms, grasshoppers, ants, bees, wasps, millipedes, spiders,
earthworms, land snails, beach "fleas", salamanders, garbage,
cultivated cherries and holly berries, considerable wild fruit, weed seeds
We kept the
windows open (the ones through which direct sunlight came) for limited
periods of time almost every day for our superb starling. We even rigged
up comfortable "perches/logs" on the window sills. Natural tree
branches with varying diameters are best for perches, particularly if
the bird is kept in a cage a lot. It's best to allow the bird at least
some daily free-flight. -- by Loreen
of protein isnt relevant. Plant proteins are only partly
digestible by animals that are omnivores or insectivores. Starlings are
omnivores but are close to being insectivores. Baby starlings are fed
almost a total insect diet by their parents. Parrots are primarily vegetarians
so the nutritional needs are very different for birds that are mostly
insectivores. For example eggs, an animal protein, can be almost completely
utilized by the body. Meat proteins have a biological value of 72 to 79;
plant proteins have values of only something like 50. So lets take that
egg with a protein of 13 percent and corn at 21 percent. The corn is only
42 percent digestible and has a protein of less biological value than
that egg, and the amino acids are not properly balanced for omnivores.
So comparing two diets solely on the basis of protein levels is highly
formula was made with the nutritional needs of parrots in mind. Parrots
are seed-eaters, and young starlings are almost totally insect-eaters.
There is no way a food developed for seed-eaters can meet the nutritional
needs of a bird that is an insectivore. Most of the baby birds that come
into wildlife centers are dehydrated and suffering some degree of starvation,
after hydrating we feed the dog food diet, with no problems. Starved babies
need the proper nutrition, perhaps more than healthy animals.
-- by Jackie
starlings outside seem larger with yellow beaks.
although I do provide full-spectrum lighting.
Also, his nails and upper beak seem to be forever
growing. I was reading that this could be because
of some deficiency? I believe that
sunlight is needed for the birds to go into breeding
condition (yellow beaks). Full spectrum lighting
is still missing something. Birds housed outside
do get the yellow beaks. Liver disease from a
poor diet will cause overgrown beaks and nails.
I think that the starlings kept indoors have this
tendency because they are unable to dig in hard
packed earth, and the nails need different sizes
of natural perches to help wear them down. --
starlings need grit?
have brought up a controversial subject about
the grit. Birds, with the exception of doves and
pigeons, do not need it. The reason pigeons and
doves need it is because they don't have efficient
gizzards, so they depend on the grit to help grind
up their food. It is also implicated in the impaction
of the digestive system and should never be given
to sick birds. There are some people, especially
in other countries, who feel it is beneficial,
and don't seem to have the problem that the vets
do here with blocked GI tracts. I am not sure
if the grit they are using is different from the
kind in this country or not. My feelings on this
are that if it is not needed, and it can cause
a problem, then don't use it.
-- by Jackie
I give my starling earthworms?
I first found my starling (rescued him from the
neighbor's cat), he had gape worm (worms in his
trachea, that caused him to cough). My vet cleared
up the gape worm and the feather lice with Ivermectin.
Earthworms are listed as an intermediate host
for gape worm, so I wouldn't feed earthworms to
my starling. I have fed him mealworms and crickets
from a pet shop, and also garden spiders from
a yard that I know isn't sprayed with any pesticides.Infection
is caused by a roundworm called Syngamus trachea
and the clinical signs of 'gapes' results from
physical blockage of the windpipe by the worms.
Clinical signs may however vary in birds from
the typical outstretched neck and open beak as
a bird attempts to breathe, to a cough and shaking
of the head, 'a snick' as the bird attempts to
remove the windpipe obstruction. In some cases
these typical signs are not present and affected
birds loose condition and may die with few respiratory
signs being seen.
Life-cycle of the parasite:
Adult worms, present in the windpipe of infected
birds, produce eggs that are coughed up by the
bird and are then swallowed to be passed out in
the faeces. Worm larvae develop in the eggs. When
another bird picks these eggs up as it feeds that
bird will then become infected. An alternative
route for infection is that earthworms eat the
eggs containing larvae and the larvae migrate
to the muscles of the earthworm where they remain
until the worm is eaten by another bird. As earthworms
can live up to eight years, infection can be present
on land from which birds have been excluded for
several years. Once a bird has swallowed larvae,
the larvae make their way to the windpipe via
the lungs - this usually takes about 4-5 days
More info on gapeworm can be found at this website:
can I get insect food for my starling?
have a long list of links to insect suppliers
on the Diet page. Many of them allow you to order
online. Click this link to go there: Insect
did starlings get here?
starling is native to Europe, where it remains
one of that continent's most common birds. In
1890 about 80 starlings were imported to the United
States by a group who wanted to introduce all
the birds mentioned by William Shakespeare in
his plays. The starlings were released in New
York City's Central Park. Another 40 starlings
were released a year later. The birds multiplied
rapidly and spread into surrounding areas. --
more about European Starlings and how they got
their start in America at the following webpage:
The European Starlings
do I get rid of starlings?
would you want to? Please read this informative
page taken from the USDA's Farmers Bulletin, and
from an article in SFU's newspaper on insect
consumption in Starlings
-- by Jackie
Besides there really is no 100% effective way to
discourage large flocks of roosting birds. I really
appreciate the fact that you are trying to figure
out humane alternatives however. This does not
mean that there are no other solutions, just that
we havent discovered them yet. Have you
looked to see if there is anything in particular
that is attracting these birds? Are they taking
advantage of a particularly abundant food source
(agricultural, dumps, outdoor cafes) provided
by humans? The 100% answer may lie partially with
us, and how we view the natural world, not just
with the birds. How can we change some things
we may be doing to contribute to the large flocks,
and most importantly, how much mess are we willing
to accept? There is give and take involved here.
I know this probably is not very helpful, and
maybe even a bit idealistic, but there just some
of my thoughts. You can find some good info on
starling behavior and natural history on the web,
a lot of people here in the US have been concerned
with this same issue. Once again, thank you for
your effort to find an environmentally sound answer
to this issue, thats very important, and
very encouraging. -- by
don't know if there is a practical solution to the problem on hand,
but one thing that can be done is to bury electrical wires in the future.
Nothing much is uglier in towns and cities than exposed wires all over
and they obviously make attractive perches for birds of all kinds and
since Starlings gather in large flocks, it is worse. Nowadays, communities
are burying the wires, it is safer and looks better. And folks can use
car covers -- that's what they are for. I do congratulate you for trying
to find humane solutions but as Pixie says, we have to start by not causing
the problem in the first place. -- by Diane
gonna give this a shot, not as
an expert, but from what Ive found in the last two years researching
these birds and from forty years plus from a viewpoint in the aviation
field where everyone tried to do the same thing. (Get the birds out of
the hangers and keep the birds off the runways.) To write in detail, everything
Ive seen people try to eliminate the bird would fill this forum.
To keep it simple: Nothing Worked. The only solution there was to protect
the equipment and totally seal the buildings.
Many cities have tried propane cannons, recorded predator tapes, mass
poisonings and even raptors. The problems there have been the same. Lawsuits,
protest Groups, and where they performed the mass killings they also had
dead raptors and other Federally protected wildlife that consumed some
of the dead birds. This also killed many protected species in the process.
Louisville, Ky. has been going through this for the last two years. You
can still find this story searching the Net. One corporation, in the state
of Washington had a severe judgment set against it last year for the mass
killing of Starlings.
I realize you have no intention of harming these birds but when you look
into the things everyone else has tried it seems rather hopeless, and
I wouldnt have a clue to the solution. Several years ago I tried
to keep all birds out of my black berry patch. I sat outside for a couple
of days and when the birds got in the patch I fired an explosive bottle
rocket into the patch. The birds learned within hours that if the rocket
wasnt aimed at them they kept eating, if is was on course they simply
jumped aside as it went by and hopped right back to where they were. I
know this didnt help but this has been asked before and I dont
think anyone has an answer. Many of the bird watchers recommend selecting
food for the feeders to things the Starling doesnt like. --
reading about European starlings and their effects on the environment,
please visit the websites listed below by clicking on the titles.
Names used for Starlings
in other countries
Czech: Spacek obecny
Danish & Norweigian: Staer
French: Etourneau sansonnet
-- submitted by Jill
back to top
Names of Starlings and Other Birds
are all the "bird nouns of assemblage" from literature.
bouquet of pheasants
cast of hawks
charm of finches
clamor of rooks
commotion of coot
congregation of plover
exaltation of larks
fall of woodcock
gaggle of geese
murder of crows
murmuration of starlings
mustering of storks
ostentation of peacocks
paddling of ducks
parliament of owls
rafter of turkeys
siege of herons
spring of teal
stand of flamingos
tiding of magpies
troop of penguins
unkindness of ravens
watch of nightingales
These are for real, honest! -- submitted by Loreen