The Starling- A Guide To Ireland’s Garden Bird SpeciesPetmania Pet Care Advisor
A common bird in Ireland, the starling can often be found in large numbers that can be often loud and noisy. They are present all year round, and are joined by a significant flock of birds from the continent during the winter months.
Known as a ‘Druid’ in Irish, the starlings can be seen gathering in autumn in such large groups that they can resemble black clouds in the sky, and their swooping and diving in unison is breath-taking to witness. This is called a murmuration.
In this blog post, we’ll guide you through how to spot a starling in your garden, what to feed it, and the best way to care for it.
What Does a Starling Look Like?
The common starling is approximately 19–23cm long, with a wingspan of 31–44 cm and a weight of 58–101g. They have a short tail and pointed wings. During the summer, the adult Starling will have a glossy, all dark plumage with a green and purple sheen. The female starling appears less glossy and oily than the male.
The male’s bill is blue, and the females have a pink bill. In the winter, they are covered in yellowish white speckles, and the bill is dark. Juvenile starlings are brown and similar to the adult in the winter months.
What do Starlings Like To Eat?
Starlings like to eat a wide variety of food that includes both plant and animal material. They mostly enjoy worms, snails, insects during breeding season, and fruit and seed mixes during the spring and autumn. They will also feed on any household scraps as well as scraps in the streets.
They can be seen scavenging in a wide variety of locations, usually on grassland in parks, gardens, trees, and farmland. They will readily feed from any bird feeders and tables.
How To Feed Starlings
Starlings will happily take any food from feeders and tables. At garden feeding stations, they will readily go for suet products like pellets or fat balls. They will also feed on peanut feeders, and sunflower hearts. During breeding season, make sure to leave out some live mealworms so they can be taken to their chicks in the nest and fledglings.
Where Do Starlings Nest?
Starlings breed throughout Ireland in loose colonies in hollowed trees, holes, nest boxes, attics in houses, and cervices. Males who do not have a mate usually build the nest. They find a suitable cavity and begin constructing nests in order to attract single females, often decorating the nest with ornaments such as flowers and fresh green material. They also build their nests using plant material, lined with feathers, moss and wool. Males will often pair with more than one females at the same time.
What Do Starlings Sound Like?
The Starlings’ song consists of either loud whistles or softer, jumbled warbling. Whistled songs only last a few seconds, and it is usually the male who sings. They will imitate other bird calls, including curlew and crow.