Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) in New Zealand

Common starling

The starling is an invasive species in Australia.

Found worldwide, adapts well to most climatic conditions. In Australia the starling is found nationally, part from Western Australia, where there are only two small populations in Munglinup and Condingup. Starlings struggle to cross the Nullarbor Plain and the few that do are controlled by the Department of Agriculture and Food.

Predominantly black bird with iridescent purple and green feathers with white flecks. They have a yellow bill and pink/red legs.

Has a unusual, waddling gait when walking.

  • Length: Up to 23 cm long
  • Wingspan: Up to 44 cm
  • Weight: up to 100g

With their willingness to feed on fruit, vegetables and grain in rural areas starlings are an agricultural pest.

In urban areas they can make a mess and cause noise problems and they roost in large flocks.

When they nest in buildings, they can cause significant problems with bird lice entering the building.

They are know to carry a variety of diseases such as Salmonella, Newcastle disease (in poultry) and transmissible gastroenteritis (in pigs), which can cause a particular problem in animal husbandry areas.

More information on starlings as pests.

The male starling builds its nest in hollows, which makes roof voids and ideal nesting place.

Starlings breed during spring and summer.

Starlings exhibit both monogamous and polygamous behaviour, although generally broods are brought up by one male and one female.

They will produce 2-3 broods a year, with 4-6 eggs in each brood.

Starlings are big insectivores (they were introduced into Australia to reduce insect pests in crops), but will happily take a wide range of foods fruit, berries, vegetables and grain.

Starlings can congregate in large flocks. In Australia flocks off 20,000 or more are not uncommon. In other parts of the world flocks can reach a million or more birds.

They are ground feeders and have an unusual walking gait.

Due to their large numbers, elimination is not feasible.

The main management strategies revolve around excluding them from food and water sources and excluding or repelling them from roosting sites. Netting fruit trees in horticultural areas is also an option.

For homeowners, preventing the bird nesting in roof voids is the only viable preventative action. If you suspect starlings are nesting in your roof void call your professional pest manager.

Other species of bird pests.

Management Notes:

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