The common starling, also known as the European starling, originated in Europe. A flock of starlings was released into New York City in the 1890s by somebody who wanted to bring all of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works to the United States. There are now 140 million starlings within the United States, and they are considered an invasive species. As such, they outcompete native birds for food and other resources.
A starling is about the same size as a robin, and it has a short tail. Their coloring is similar to that of a blackbird, but they also have greenish-purple feathers with a metallic sheen. An adult’s beak is yellow during mating season and turns black in winter.
Like pigeons and sparrows, starlings travel in flocks—and those flocks can contain hundreds or thousands of birds. Their numbers can be so massive that they can produce enough droppings to damage or kill trees. The acidic droppings can also damage statuary, solar panels, and other structures.
Starlings are omnivores and feed on insects, earthworms, snails, fruit, seeds, and grain. While they can and do eat pests like flies and earwigs, starlings are considered pests themselves because they will devour the grain in livestock feedlots, cornfields, and other grain fields.
In rural areas, starlings will nest in ledges and tree cavities. City starlings will live in parks; in the winter, they will seek out buildings and lighted signs to keep warm.
Starling’s droppings can contain the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum, which can cause a lung disease called histoplasmosis or “cave disease” in humans. While histoplasmosis is rare in Arizona, it is endemic in parts of the Ohio River Valley and the lower Mississippi River.
Atomic Pest Control will dispatch professionals from the Bird Division to assess the situation and decide on a plan of action that will generally involve humanely removing the birds and making the property less attractive to them. The latter process can include removing nesting areas and blocking access to perches. The Bird Division will also clean up the birds’ waste and sanitize affected areas with an antibacterial solution to eliminate the health hazards caused by the starlings’ filth.