Sturnus vulgaris - Linnaeus, 1758
European Starling
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Sturnus vulgaris Linnaeus, 1758 (TSN 179637)
French Common Names: étourneau sansonnet
Spanish Common Names: Estornino Pinto
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.103906
Element Code: ABPBT01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Perching Birds
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Passeriformes Sturnidae Sturnus
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Sturnus vulgaris
Taxonomic Comments: Considered conspecific with S. UNICOLOR by some authors and constitutes a superspecies with it (AOU 1983, 1998).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 03Dec1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (13Feb2012)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (SNA), Alaska (SNA), Arizona (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), California (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Florida (SNA), Georgia (SNA), Idaho (SNA), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (SNA), Maine (SNA), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (SNA), Michigan (SNA), Minnesota (SNA), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (SNA), Montana (SNA), Navajo Nation (SNA), Nebraska (SNA), Nevada (SNA), New Hampshire (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New Mexico (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), North Dakota (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Oklahoma (SNA), Oregon (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Texas (SNA), Utah (SNA), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (SNA), Washington (SNA), West Virginia (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA), Wyoming (SNA)
Canada Alberta (SNA), British Columbia (SNA), Labrador (SNA), Manitoba (SNA), New Brunswick (SNA), Newfoundland Island (SNA), Northwest Territories (SNA), Nova Scotia (SNA), Nunavut (SNA), Ontario (SNA), Prince Edward Island (SNA), Quebec (SNA), Saskatchewan (SNA)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Native to Eurasia; introduced in the U.S. in New York City in 1890. Now breeds from southeastern Alaska, across southern Canada, south through most of U.S. to southern Mexico; also in Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico (very local in the late 1980s). Periodically reported from St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Reported casually in Hawaii.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Native to Eurasia; introduced in the U.S. in New York City in 1890. Now breeds from southeastern Alaska, across southern Canada, south through most of U.S. to southern Mexico; also in Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico (very local in the late 1980s). Periodically reported from St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Reported casually in Hawaii.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AKexotic, ALexotic, ARexotic, AZexotic, CAexotic, COexotic, CTexotic, DCexotic, DEexotic, FLexotic, GAexotic, IAexotic, IDexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, KSexotic, KYexotic, LAexotic, MAexotic, MDexotic, MEexotic, MIexotic, MNexotic, MOexotic, MSexotic, MTexotic, NCexotic, NDexotic, NEexotic, NHexotic, NJexotic, NMexotic, NNexotic, NVexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, OKexotic, ORexotic, PAexotic, RIexotic, SCexotic, SDexotic, TNexotic, TXexotic, UTexotic, VAexotic, VTexotic, WAexotic, WIexotic, WVexotic, WYexotic
Canada ABexotic, BCexotic, LBexotic, MBexotic, NBexotic, NFexotic, NSexotic, NTexotic, NUexotic, ONexotic, PEexotic, QCexotic, SKexotic

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; NatureServe, 2004; WILDSPACETM 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
ID Ada (16001), Bingham (16011), Blaine (16013), Bonneville (16019), Cassia (16031), Jefferson (16051), Lemhi (16059), Owyhee (16073)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
17 Idaho Falls (17040201)+, Willow (17040205)+, Goose (17040211)+, Upper Snake-Rock (17040212)+, Medicine Lodge (17040215)+, Little Wood (17040221)+, Upper Owyhee (17050104)+, Middle Owyhee (17050107)+, Lower Boise (17050114)+, Lemhi (17060204)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: Clutch size 4-9 (usually 5-7). Incubation by both sexes in turn, 12-15 days. Altricial, downy nestlings fed by parents for 20-22 days (Harrison 1978). One to 3 broods per year. Female may lay egg in nest of another starling. Polygyny and communal breeding have been documented (see Pinxton et al., 1994, Auk 111:482-486).
Ecology Comments: Nonbreeding: often gathers in large roosts. Often occurs in large mixed flocks with black-birds, cowbirds, and grackles (in summer and fall in northeastern U.S., Caccamise et al. 1983).

Commonly usurps the nest sites of native cavity-nesting birds (e.g., bluebirds, woodpeckers). However, an examination of Christmas Bird Count and Breeding Bird Survey data found that few, if any, native species have showed significant declines that could be attributed to starling competition. Only sapsuckers exhibited declines potentially attributable to starlings that were not countered by other data (Koenig 2003).

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Resident throughout most its range, but some individuals migrate (mid-February to early March, late September to November).
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cliff, Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Suburban/orchard, Urban/edificarian, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Standing snag/hollow tree
Habitat Comments: Found in a wide variety of habitats including open wood- lands, agricultural and urban areas. Roosts in trees, shrubs, or buildings, forages in open areas (Godfrey 1966). May use cavity as night roost during nonbreeding season; this cavity may be used for nesting by same bird(s). Cavity nester. Nests in tree hole, woodpecker hole, axil of coconut palm, bird box, or crevice in building. Competes with flicker, Lewis's Woodpecker, Gila Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, bluebirds, and other cavity nesters for nest sites.
Adult Food Habits: Frugivore, Granivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Frugivore, Granivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Approximately half of its diet is insects; feeds on weevils, cut-worms, beetles, grasshoppers, ants, etc. Also feeds on other invertebrates; spiders, millipedes, earthworms, and snails. Consumes a wide variety of fruits and grains. Avoids high-sucrose fruits (Avery et al. 1995).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Phenology Comments: In late summer and fall forages during the day, returning late in afternoon, in small flocks, to night roost.
Length: 22 centimeters
Weight: 85 grams
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: Considered beneficial as predator of economically destructive insects. Regarded as a pest when eating grain for cattle or roosting in huge flocks.
Management Summary
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Species Impacts: See Weitzel (1988) for information on impact on native species in Nevada.
Management Requirements: Local removal by shooting in Nevada allowed return of native cavity nesters (Weitzel 1988). See Glahn et al. (1991) for information on the impact of ground-based surfactant roost control treatments on local urban and agricultural blackbird/starling problems. See also Feare (1984).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Help
Group Name: Passerines

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Nest Site, Nesting Colony
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Mapping Guidance: Breeding occurrences include nesting areas as well as foraging areas.

For swallows and other species that have separate nesting and foraging areas, separations are based on nest sites or nesting areas, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap larger than the separation distance are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Mean foraging radius (from nesting area) of Brown-headed Cowbird females was 4.0 kilometers in California, 1.2 kilometers in Illinois-Missouri (Thompson 1994). Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Brewer's Blackbirds, and probably Red-winged Blackbirds all forage up to 1.6 kilometers away from breeding colony (Willson 1966, Horn 1968). In one study, Brewer's Blackbirds were found as far as 10 kilometers from nesting area (Williams 1952), but this may be unusual.

For swallows and other parrerines with similar behavioral ecology, separation distance pertains to nest sites or nesting colonies, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap of more than 5 km are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Migratory stopover
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: For most passerines: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating individuals (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds in appropriate habitat.

For swallows: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating flocks (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 100 birds in appropriate habitat (e.g., traditional roost sites).

Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually.

EOs should not be described for species that are nomadic during nonbreeding season: e.g., Lark Bunting.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary but intended to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Any area used traditionally in the nonbreeding season (used for populations that are not resident in a location year-round). Minimally, reliable observations of 10 or more individuals in appropriate habitat for 20 or more days at a time. For G1-G3 species, observations of fewer individuals could constitute an occurrence of conservation value. Sites used during migration should be documented under the 'migratory stopover' location use class.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is necessarily arbitrary but attempts to balance the high mobility of birds with the need for occurrences of reasonable spatial scope. Note that a population's roost sites and foraging areas are parts of the same occurrence, even if they are more than 5 km apart.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Nonmigratory
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a particular location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in or near appropriate habitat.

These occurrence specifications are used for nonmigratory populations of passerine birds.

Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and breeding-season foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Blue jays have small summer home ranges but fly up to 4 kilometers to harvest mast (Tarvin and Woolfenden 1999). Flocks of pinyon jays range over 21-29 square kilometers (Ligon 1971, Balda and Bateman 1971); nesting and foraging areas may be widely separated. Tricolored blackbirds forage in flocks that range widely to more than 15 kilometers from the nesting colony (Beedy and Hamilton 1999).

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: These specs pertain to nonmigratory species.
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
Help
Authors/Contributors
Help
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 11Apr1996
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
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  • Aquin, P. 1999. Évaluation de la situation des groupes taxonomiques des oiseaux du Québec. Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Faune. 13 pages.

  • Avery, M.L., D.G. Decker, J.S. Humphrey, A.A. Hayes, and C.C. Laukert. 1995. Color, size, and location of artificial fruits affect sucrose avoidance by Cedar Waxwings and European Starlings. Auk 112(2):436-444.

  • B83COM01NAUS - Added from 2005 data exchange with Alberta, Canada.

  • Balda, R. P., and G. C. Bateman. 1971. Flocking and annual cycle of the piñon jay, Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus. Condor 73:287-302.

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  • Mirarchi, R.E., editor. 2004. Alabama Wildlife. Volume 1. A checklist of vertebrates and selected invertebrates: aquatic mollusks, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 209 pages.

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  • Raffaele, H., J. Wiley, O. Garrido, A. Keith, and J. Raffaele. 1998. A guide to the birds of the West Indies. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 511 pp.

  • See SERO listing

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  • Tarvin, K. A., and G. E. Woolfenden. 1999. Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata). No. 469 IN A. Poole and F. Gill, editors. The birds of North America. The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA. 32pp.

  • Terres, J. K. 1980. The Audubon Society encyclopedia of North American birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

  • Thompson, F. R., III. 1994. Temporal and spatial patterns of breeding brown-headed cowbirds in the midwestern United States. Auk 111:979-990.

  • Voous, K. H. 1985. Additions to the avifauna of Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire, south Caribbean. Ornithological Monographs 36:247-254.

  • Weitzel, N. H. 1988. Nest-site competition between the European starling and native breeding birds in northwestern Nevada. Condor 90:515-517.

  • Williams, L. 1952b. Breeding behavior of the Brewer blackbird. Condor 54:3-47.

  • Willson, M. F. 1966. Breeding ecology of the Yellow-headed Blackbird. Ecological Monographs 36:51-77.

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