Controlling Starlings 

starlingThe starling is a non-native and invasive bird that was introduced to North America. This adaptable and omnivorous species has become one of the worst nuisance birds in New Jersey. Its formal Latin name, Sturnus vulgaris, speaks volumes about this sharp-beaked bird. According to federal records, planes departing from Atlantic City International Airport hit more Starlings than any other species of birds. Starling populations have burgeoned because they have adapted well to man-made habitats and structures, they are not picky eaters, and they are aggressive, not hesitating to challenge even larger birds for nesting cavities.


Starlings are chunky and hump-backed robin-sized birds. Adults are speckled, iridescent birds. The bill of both sexes is yellow during the reproductive cycle (January to June) and dark at other times. The tail is short, and the wings have a triangular shape when outstretched in flight. Starling flight is direct and swift.


Starlings are found in a wide variety of habitats. They thrive “in nature,” as well in urban and suburban areas. Ideal nesting habitats include areas with trees or other structures that have cavities suitable for nesting including pockets and spaces in building walls. In the winter, these birds will look for warmth inside structures such as warehouses.

Food Habits

Starlings consume a wide variety of foods. Insects, especially lawn grubs, and other invertebrates are especially important during the spring breeding season. In urban and suburban areas, food in garbage will sustain them, especially in the winter.

What Cowleys Pest Services can do to Resolve Your Starling Problem?

European starling control is about keeping unwanted, nuisance starlings from landing, roosting, and nesting on structures using various deterrents. Bird deterrents may be physical, visual, or auditory. In urban and suburban settings, physical barrier deterrents are the most effective and practical long-term solution for European starlings.

Each solution must be designed to resolve the particular starling infestation at hand. Factors that must be assessed include the type of structure and the level of bird activity. In addition to choosing the right mix of deterrents, a proper installation by an experienced bird control specialist is essential.

Cowleys Pest Services will make your home or building an inhospitable area for European starlings to land, roost, or nest. The objective is to have the starlings take themselves and their droppings to another, friendlier location. With the right deterrents, the nuisance birds get the message loud and clear that your structure is an undesirable habitat once there is no longer enough real estate on your ledges and other areas to conduct their activities.

Damage and Disease from Starlings

Starling’s appetite and disease spread throughout their droppings and may cause $800 million in damage to crops and livestock every year according to a 2007 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In suburban settings, starlings are known for damaging turf on golf courses as they probe for grubs.

The growing urbanization of wintering starling flocks seeking warmth and shelter for roosting may have serious consequences. Large roosts that occur in buildings and industrial structures are a problem in both rural and urban sites because of health concerns, filth, noise, and odor. In addition, slippery accumulations of droppings pose safety hazards and the acidity of droppings is corrosive.
Starling and blackbird roosts located near airports pose an aircraft safety hazard because of the potential for birds to be ingested into jet engines, resulting in aircraft damage or loss and, at times, in human injuries and fatalities.

One of the more serious health concerns associated to starlings is the fungal respiratory disease histoplasmosis. The fungus Histoplasma capsulatum contained in bird droppings grows in the soils beneath bird roosts. The disease-carrying spores become airborne in dry weather, particularly when the nesting site is disturbed, and can be inhaled.

Starlings also compete with native cavity-nesting birds such as bluebirds for nest sites. Where nest cavities were limited, Starlings have had severe impacts on local populations of native cavity-nesting species.

General Biology, Reproduction, and Behavior

European starlings were released in New York City in the late 1800's. Since that time, they have increased in numbers and spread across the country. The starling population in the United States is estimated at 200 million birds.

Starlings nest in holes or cavities almost anywhere, including tree cavities, birdhouses, and holes in buildings or cliff faces. Females lay 4 to 7 eggs that hatch after only 11 to 13 days of incubation. Young starlings leave their nest when they are about three weeks old.

Outside the breeding season, starlings feed and roost together in a flock. They choose trees or groves that offer ample perches so that all may roost together. In colder weather, they choose dense vegetation or man-made structures that provide protection from wind and cold. Fall-roosting flocks are relatively small (from several hundred to several thousand birds), but because they are spread over large geographic areas, they can cause widespread nuisance problems. In contrast, winter-roosting flocks are large (sometimes exceeding 1 million birds) can cause a tremendous amount of damage to crops, collectively eating a ton of grain in a week.

Legal Status

European starlings are not protected by federal law. State or local laws may regulate or prohibit certain control techniques such as shooting or the use of toxicants.

If your property is experiencing a nuisance bird problem, such as starlings, contact Cowleys Pest Services today for a Free Estimate! We provide our professional solutions and starling control services to both residential and commercial properties all throughout our Mid-Atlantic service area, including: New Jersey and more!

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