Invasive Species: European Starling

Passport to Texas from Texas Parks and Wildlife

“Nay! I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak.”

According to legend, it was this brief reference to the European starling in one of Shakespeare’s plays that led Eugene Schieffelin to release starlings in Central Park in 1890.

There were several attempts, so we don’t know how many were brought in but several dozen is what I’ve read.

Cliff Shackelford is a Texas Parks and Wildlife non-game ornithologist. He says starlings have now multiplied to the tens of millions in Texas.

If you have the windows down at most intersections in Texas, you can probably hear one calling in the spring time.

[Starling calls]

But Shackelford says when he hears the starling, he doesn’t smile with joy.

For me the sound is annoying because I think of all the bad things that starlings have done and the main thing they’ve done is they’re cavity nesters and they’re looking for hollows and trees like woodpecker holes and there are a lot of native birds that are looking for those. Well the starling has done a good job at kicking birds out of their nest cavities so they can steal them.

The European starling is a fairly attractive, small black bird. But when they take over the nests of bluebirds and other native species, they lose their appeal. Still, starlings are here to stay, so the best thing to do is simply make sure they’re not nesting near your home.

That’s our show…with research and writing help from Gretchen Mahan. For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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