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Starling Habitat and Behavior:
Starlings live around the world, but are most common in open, rural areas. A few species live in close proximity to humans, eating fruits, seeds, and insects. A starling can be found in almost any environment; however, they are rarely found in sandy, dry regions. Some, but not all, species are migratory.
A starling flock is called a murmuration. Birds will occupy these groups year-round and seem to be very social. They have a complex communication system consisting of a variety of tones and sounds. Starlings incorporate mimicry into their communication, replicating the sounds of other birds, machines, animals, and people. This dynamic vocalization ability has been studied with the hope of understanding human speech evolution. The exact purpose of mimicry is unknown. It is suspected that individual birds can be identified by the pattern of their call. Incorporating outside sounds may be a step toward individualization.
Mating for starling begins in the early spring. A female will chose a male, and the male will chose a nesting site. These birds are cavity nesters and will look for old woodpecker holes, birdhouses, or rotting trees to build their nest. Starlings are very territorial when it comes to nesting locations and will defend the spot from other birds. The male builds the initial nest. This structure will be torn apart and rebuilt by the female when she is ready to lay her eggs. After the babies are born, both the male and the female will take turns caring for them. Starlings are usually monogamous, though they do not necessarily mate for life. When the young are gone, the male may change mates.
Starlings utilize a technique called ‘gaping’ when they feed. By using their strong beaks and surrounding muscles, the birds are able to poke their beak into the ground and then opening, spreading the area apart. This action can be done in old trees as well, opening up the opportunity to fee don insects hidden within the rotted wood. Starlings will eat a variety of insects and spiders. They are partial to fruit. Birdfeeders with seed and suet are also favorite locations for flocks to share in a meal. Starlings are aggressive and will ward off other, smaller birds.
Starling Nuisance Concerns:
People who enjoy watching a variety of birds feeding at their feeders will not enjoy being overrun by starlings. These birds are protective of food sources and will not allow other birds near the seed. If a flock finds an abundant food source in a yard or garden, they will be reluctant to leave. Bluebirds and martins will also leave your area because starlings will push them out of their own nesting sites.
Because starlings tend to move in flocks, concerns about the abundance of their waste must be addressed. Starlings are one of the bird species known to contribute to histoplasmosis, a fungal disease carried in the air. Cryptococcosis, another fungal infection, affects the pulmonary system. Salmonellosis, most associated with contaminated food, is found in dried starling droppings. Bedbugs and chicken mites have been known to be transferred from one location to another by hitching a ride on a starling. Both of these external parasites will bite people and create infestations of their own. Indirectly, a starling with West Nile virus can be bitten by a mosquito and then the disease could be transmitted to a human.
SOME SPECIFIC STARLING AREAS OF INTEREST:
How To Keep Starlings Out Of Your Barn
Although people love bird watching, starlings are not exactly the birds people want to watch. They can be protective when it comes to food so they may keep other birds from coming to the area. There is also the problem of possible diseases when starlings come into an area; that is because they move around in flocks and the greater number of birds means a greater number of droppings. If you have a barn, then starlings are likely to try to make a home in there because it provides shelter from the weather and possible predators.
It is your job then to try to keep the starlings out of the barn. Unfortunately they are small enough that they could get in your barn through very small holes. The first step to keeping them out of the barn is to locate those possible points of entry and seal them. Next you should make sure that you do not have any food or water sources inside. Keep in mind that these birds will love a place that provides all three needs which are food, shelter and water. Take those things away and there will be no need for the starlings to make a home in your barn.
Safely Keep Starlings Out Of Your Garage
One of the places in your property where you are very likely to have a starling problem is the garage. Because of the items that belong in your garage, you could find that safety quickly becomes a concern. If you are not ready to see starlings then a fast flying object in a crowded space can be an accident waiting to happen. There is also the problem of the amount of droppings that you can find when starlings get into an enclosed area of your property. Those droppings contain fungus and bacteria which you can breathe in as they dry.
Traps for starlings and repellents are not really that effective unless you happen to have one or two birds inside maximum. The reason they can be ineffective is that starlings are a type of bird that always travels in larger groups. That means that for you to get only one or two birds they would have to accidentally be separated from the flock. Instead you should make sure that you do not keep any bird seed or pet water in the garage. Those two things can be a great incentive for starlings to remain in the area. Take those away and you will have a garage that is bird free.
What Diseases Do Starlings Carry
Even the most avid bird lover needs to know the diseases that birds carry. Starlings can in fact carry disease and although their size is not that big, the number of birds can increase the chances that a disease will be spread. It also does not help that starlings can be found almost anywhere, so no matter where you are you could be exposed. They are also one of the most common pest birds in the country and though the diseases they carry will mostly affect livestock, humans can also suffer from some of the diseases. It is a good idea to know about these diseases so that you can recognize the symptoms and to catch them early.
According to a study from the Utah State University there are several diseases that can affect humans. There are two fungal diseases, five bacterial diseases, four protozoan and six viral diseases which can potentially affect people. Some of them are the same type of disease that would also be transmitted by other birds like Histoplasmosis and Cryptococcosis. Both of those diseases are more likely to affect people with a weaker immune system and in those cases they can be extremely serious. They could also pass salmonella and E. coli when they contaminate livestock.
Do Repellents Work With Starlings?
Because starlings are not the easiest pest to control, many people will turn to repellents, but do repellents really work with starlings? There are many companies offering you different products to help you control starling problems, some promise to help you get rid of the starlings. The truth is that most repellents are ineffective and more than likely you will want to use the guarantee that the company offers you. When it comes to birds, most repellents are in fact a waste of money and you are better off investing in other ways to get rid of the starlings.
The reason most starling repellents are ineffective is because you are talking about birds and birds are in the outdoors. Even if you are using a spray to give a foul flavor to their food source, more than likely you will have to use it every day at least once a day. Loud noise repellents can get extremely annoying to the starlings and to you too. The best way to keep the starlings out is to remove any incentive that they have to be in your property in the first place. That means removing bird feeders and water which they could be drinking. Removing these incentives is usually enough to get the birds away.