One more European or common starling (Sturnus vulgaris) article before moving on to other topics. As I mentioned in my two previous starling posts (“European Starling” and “European Starling Identification“), these invasive birds have increased in our yard over the years to the detriment of more desirable avian species. Leonard and I recently filled all the cavities in our trees in the hope of discouraging starling reproduction and numbers near our house.
European starlings build their nests in natural or artificial cavities. The male starling chooses a site and begins to build a nest by filling the cavity with grasses, feathers, cloth, string (horsehair and bailing twine are common building materials in our area) or other trash. After preparing a preliminary nest the male attempts to attract a female by singing near the nest site he has claimed while simultaneously flapping his wings in circles. If successful in attracting a mate, the male allows the female to oversee the final nest preparations. She usually discards some of the male’s contributions. Fresh greenery is added to the nest before the eggs are laid and throughout the breeding season.
The female lays three to six bluish or greenish-white eggs which both parents incubate for 12 days – a rather short incubation period. When born, starling chicks are helpless, have closed eyes and are covered with sparse greyish down. After 21 to 23 days as nestlings, the young starlings are ready to fledge – and the parents can get busy with a second brood. No wonder starling numbers appear to increase so rapidly.
These pictures, taken in our yard (Modoc County CA), show a male courting a female with singing and wing flapping, a male bringing greenery to the nest site and a starling egg. I found the unbroken egg on the ground the morning after Leonard closed the cavities.