Scientific Name
Sturnus vulgaris
Also Known As
European Starling, Common Starling
All of Florida
Insects, Fruits, Grains
Life Expectancy
2 - 22 Years

Photo 7190076 © nbperez, CC BY-NC

Starlings conservation status - Invasive

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European Starlings in Central Florida

The European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) is an abundant bird species that thrives in urban and agricultural environments of central Florida. Often considered a nuisance, starlings are identified by their dark plumage marked by light speckles. Read on to learn starling identification tips, biology facts, and control methods for starlings in central Florida.

Appearance and Identification

Starlings can be identified at juvenile and adult stages by their distinct physical characteristics

Adult Starling

Adult Starlings

  • Size: Adults reach about 8.5 inches (22 cm) long and weigh 2.1 to 3.4 ounces (60 to 96 grams).
  • Plumage: Adults have glossy black plumage with light speckles that appear as white dots during flight. The base of feathers is light brown.
  • Bill: Yellow during breeding season and darker in winter.
  • Eyes: Brown.
  • Legs and feet: Yellow to reddish-brown.
  • Wingspan: 12.6 to 15.8 inches (32 to 40 cm).
Juvenile Starling

Juvenile Starlings

  • Size: Hatchlings are about 1.5 inches (4 cm) long and weigh around 0.5 ounces (15 grams). They reach full adult size by 4 weeks old.
  • Plumage: Juvenile plumage is gray-brown overall with faint lighter speckles. The bill is yellow with a dark tip.
  • Features: Younger birds have shorter tails and wings proportional to their smaller bodies. The eyes are dark brown.

Starling species can be differentiated from other blackbirds by size, speckled plumage, square-tipped tail, and various vocalizations like whistles and clicks.

Starling Eggs

Photo 143222222 © Leah Fulton, CC BY-NC

Starling Eggs

  • Starling eggs are oval shaped with pale blue or greenish-blue coloring and reddish-brown speckles. Their small size and coloration help identify them.
  • Size: Starling eggs measure about 0.9-1.1 inches (24-27 mm) in length and 0.7-0.8 inches (19-20 mm) in width.
  • Shape: The shape is oval, with one end just slightly more pointed.
  • Color: The background color is pale greenish-blue or blue, covered in reddish-brown speckles.
  • Shell: The shell has a smooth, slightly glossy texture.
  • Clutch: Starlings lay 4-6 eggs per clutch and can have 2-3 clutches per season.
  • Nest: The eggs are incubated by the female for 10-13 days in a nest cavity lined with grasses, feathers, and debris.

Maturation Rate

Starlings exhibit exceptionally rapid development from hatchlings to fully grown adults. Newly hatched chicks weigh only about 0.5 ounces (15 grams) but achieve full adult dimensions of 8.5 inches long (22 cm) in just 4 weeks.

Fledging occurs around 21 days after hatching. While technically independent, juvenile starlings remain with the parents for additional days to receive supplementary feeding as they learn to forage on their own.

By one year of age, juvenile starlings reach sexual maturity allowing them to breed in the following season. Adult plumage replaces the initial gray-brown down over the first fall and winter. This rapid life cycle supports starling adaptability and productivity.