Scientific Name: Sturnus vulgaris Linnaeus (Family Sturnidae)
Nest Encroachment: Starlings have been reported to dump eggs into the nests of Bluebirds. This activity can help contribute to the decline of the Bluebird species in the U.S.
Legal Status: No Federal protections as they are an introduced species (ie. Starlings are not a species native to the U.S.) Your state may have its own protections.
The photo to the right is a typical example of a starling nest inside of a house attic. Yes, they do grow over time to become several feet high. Wildlife Damage Control thanks Lowell Leemkuil of Sherlock Home Inspectors for granting permission to use this photo.
There are two sorts of dangers when handling birds. The first is the ectoparasites that can exist in and around the bird and its habitat. These can be often killed with pesticides or prevented with appropriate protective clothing. The second danger consists of various diseases. You should always wear an appropriately fitted HEPA filter maks (at minimum) before any bird nest removal in your attic or property. While statistically speaking the risks are small. Statistics don't matter if you are infected. You can also consult our disease page
Starlings enter and build nests in bathroom exhaust vents and dryer vents. Once inside the process to get them removed can be complicated, especially if there are young involved. However, you can prevent this from happening by installing a vent guard. The vent guard is a low cost, easy to install product that will protect your vents from bird entry.
Starlings, like crows, congregate together during cold weather. These congregations can be enormous. Here is a photo of a number of birds of a feather flocking together. These gatherings can be dispersed using a variety of methods including lethal control. (photo by Stephen Vantassel)
Jerrold Belant, Paul Woronecki, Richard Dolbeer, and Thomas Seamans published a study in the Wildlife Society Bulletin 1998 26(2): 264-268. Entitled "Ineffectiveness of five commercial deterrents or nesting starlings". Essentially their study took a 81 nesting boxes and tested the effectiveness of phenethyl alcohol, eye spots, magnetic fields and effigies. Essentially, they found that none of these products worked. However, you may want to know that starlings can smell. There were a few caveats to their conclusion.
First, they theorized that the products may have worked if they were tested on an area that the starlings were not as attracted too. Housing is a pretty desirable asset. In Bird Barrier terms, housing is a high pressure site. They also wondered if the deterrent devices were used in combinations, whether the results would have been better.
Conclusion, the search continues for an effective repellent for starlings. Until then, continue using exclusion devices.
There is a chemical fogger on the market that can be used to disperse bird roosts. The fog repellent uses the same principal ingredient as grape soda and bubble gum, which is distasteful to starlings and causes them to move elsewhere. (Source INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ Jan 15, 2003) While I hear it has been very effective, interested individuals should consider the possible fall out when/if the fog is pushed by the wind into a residential area or a crowd of people.
Disclaimer: WDC seeks to provide accurate, effective and responsible information on resolving human/wildlife conflicts. We welcome suggestions, criticisms to help us achieve this goal. The information provided is for informational purposes only and users of the information use it at their own risk. The reader must consult state/federal officials to determine the legality of any technique in the reader's locale. Some techniques are dangerous to the user and to others. WDC encourages readers to obtain appropriate training (see our informational literature at our Store ), and understand that proper animal damage control involves patience, understanding that not every technique/method works for every situation or even 100% of the time. Your use of this information is governed by this understanding. We welcome potential users of the information and photos to simply ask for permission via e-mail. Finally, WDC welcomes e-mail but understand that all e-mails become property of Wildlife Damage Control.