how to attract starlings

How to Attract Starlings: Simple Steps for Bird Lovers

If you love starlings and their comical, friendly ways, learning how to attract starlings to your backyard is a must. Plus it’s especially true if you’re a bird lover looking to mingle with a diverse species of birds. 

Starlings, known for their glossy black feathers that shimmer with hues of green and blue in the sunlight, are social and chatty creatures. With their unique and fascinating songs, mimicking other birds and occasionally even human voices, starlings will surely bring liveliness to your outdoor space.

To begin your journey in attracting starlings, it’s essential to understand their natural habitat and preferences. Did you know that they are one of the common NYC birds?

By offering an environment that closely resembles their preferred surroundings will make your yard an inviting place for these beautiful birds. 

In this article, you’ll find helpful tips and tricks that can improve your chances of attracting starlings and ensure their comfort and happiness while they spend time in your backyard.

From providing suitable nesting sites and food to understanding the behaviors and needs of starlings, you’ll soon become a confident host to these charming birds. 

So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to create the perfect environment for starlings to call home!

how to attract starlings

Understanding Starlings – Will Help You Attract Them

Species and Appearance

There are several species of starlings, but the most common is the European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). Keep in mind that some folks confuse the Grackle with the Starling (especially from a distance). I have even seen some bird watching guides identify a Starling as a Grackle.

These birds have a short tail, pointed wings, and a strong beak, all of which makes them easily recognizable. Their coloration varies – iridescent, glossy green-black, or purplish-black feathers with white speckles. 

In the winter months, the speckles on their feathers become more prominent.

Habitat and Behavior – How to Attract Starlings

Starlings thrive in various habitats, such as woodlands, grasslands, and gardens. They’re highly adaptable and can even be seen in urban settings. 

Furthermore, starlings are social birds and usually move around in large groups called murmurations. They have an incredible ability to mimic other birdsongs and sounds so that you might hear an interesting mix of calls from your backyard.

To attract starlings to your garden, ensure you provide them with food, water, and shelter.  Since starlings are not nocturnal, you’ll be able to see them during the daytime/evening hours. Learn more about “can birds see in the dark?”.

Here are some tips for how to attract starlings:

  • Offer various food sources like insects, suet, berries, and shelled nuts . Starlings also enjoy fruits and kitchen scraps.

  • Create nesting sites by placing open-fronted nest boxes in suitable locations around your garden.

  • Be patient, as starlings may not visit right away. Observe their patterns, modify your tactics, and remember that building a relationship with these birds is ongoing.

Good luck in your efforts to attract starlings!

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Attracting Starlings to Your Yard

Starlings are fascinating birds that can bring life and excitement to your backyard. If you want to attract these beautiful creatures, follow these simple tips.

Installing Bird Feeders

To get starlings to visit your yard, set up bird feeders. Starlings are omnivorous and enjoy a variety of foods. You can offer:

  • Suet – High in fat, it provides energy and attracts starlings during the colder months.
  • Mealworms – Dried or live, these are a significant protein source.

  • Insects – flies, cockroaches, caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles, spiders, snails, earthworms, and other invertebrates
  • Nuts – Use unsalted nuts (pecans, walnuts, peanuts, and pistachios) as salt is unsuitable for birds.

  • Berries – You can plant a few berry bushes near the feeders, like blueberries or raspberries. I have a 2 blueberry bushes dedicated to the backyard birds!

Remember to place feeders in locations that are not easily accessible to predators.

Providing Water Sources – How to Attract Starlings

attract starlings to your backyard with a bird bath

Water is essential for the well-being of starlings. Here’s how you can provide it in your yard:

  • Birdbaths – Shallow birdbaths are ideal for starlings to drink from and bathe in. Keep the water clean by refreshing it regularly and scrub the bath occasionally.

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  • Water drippers – These slow-drip systems mimic rainfall and will catch a starling’s eye. You can use a solar pump like this one that fits most bird feeders.

Having a continuous water source in your yard will make it more appealing for starlings to visit and encourage them to stay longer.

Creating a Shelter – How to Attract Starlings

how to attract starlings with a bird house

Starlings need sheltered areas for protection and nesting. You can help them feel safe and settled in your backyard by providing suitable spaces. Here are some ideas:

  • Install nest boxes – Choose boxes with 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter entrance holes. Hang them in quiet, sheltered areas on trees or poles.

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  • Plant native trees and shrubs – These offer natural shelter and nesting sites. Good choices include hawthorns, sumacs, and crabapples.

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  • Provide roosting spots – Starlings love congregating in groups, so providing perches, like arbors or branches, is beneficial.

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Following these steps for installing bird feeders, providing water sources, and creating shelter will help attract starlings to your yard, allowing you to enjoy their company and contribute to their well-being.

Protecting the Starlings

Predator Deterrence

In order to protect the starlings in your backyard, it’s essential to put measures in place to deter predators.

Predators, such as raccoons, snakes, and birds of prey (learn more about hawks vs falcons), pose a significant threat to starlings.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Place bird feeders and nesting boxes at least 5ft (1.5m) above the ground and 15ft (4.5m) away from trees or buildings to prevent climbing predators from accessing them.

  • Install bird netting over the nesting area to reduce the risk of birds of prey attacking the starlings.

  • Be vigilant and keep domestic animals, such as cats and dogs, away from feeding and nesting areas.

Managing Parasites

Parasites like mites and lice are common among wild birds, including starlings. To minimize their impact on starlings and keep them in good health, follow these tips:

  • Clean and sanitize bird feeders and birdhouses regularly to lessen the chances of a parasite infestation.

  • Inspect your starlings’ nesting area for signs of parasites, such as discarded feathers, droppings, and nesting material.

  • If you suspect a mite or lice infestation, treat the nesting area with a high-pressure, low-velocity steamer in the nesting spot with the mites. Then, switch the nesting box out, plus change the location. 

Addressing predator deterrence and managing parasites will provide starlings with a safe and healthy environment, helping them thrive in your outdoor space.

Promoting a Starling-Friendly Environment

Garden Planning

how to attract starlings with bushes

To attract starlings to your garden, consider planting bird-friendly trees and shrubs that provide food and shelter. Starlings enjoy feasting on fruits, berries, and insects, so choose plants that cater to their preferences. Some examples are:

  • Fruit trees: Apple, cherry, and pear trees are great options.
  • Berry bushes: Consider planting blueberry, mulberry, rowan, holly, raspberry, and hawthorn.
  • Shrubs: Dense shrubs like privet or hawthorn provide shelter and nesting sites.

In addition, make sure to include open spaces in your garden layout for ground feeding and insect hunting. Keep your grass slightly longer to encourage insects that starlings love to feed on.

Maintaining a Healthy Ecosystem

starling in a backyard on long island

A healthy ecosystem is vital for attracting and supporting starlings in your garden. Here are some steps you can take to promote a balanced environment:

  1. Provide a water source: A shallow birdbath, pond, or even a water dish will help keep starlings hydrated and encourage them to visit your garden frequently.
  2. Install bird feeders: Offer a variety of foods, such as suet balls, mealworms, and sunflower hearts, to attract starlings to your feeders.
  3. Limit pesticide use: Chemicals can harm starlings and reduce their food sources. Instead, opt for bird-friendly pest control methods, such as encouraging ladybugs and lacewings for aphid control.
  4. Provide nesting sites: Providing nesting boxes or allowing dense shrubs to grow can give starlings safe places to raise their young.

By carefully planning your garden and maintaining a healthy ecosystem, you can create a welcoming environment for starlings to thrive and enjoy.

Final Thoughts for How to Attract Starlings

Attracting starlings to your garden or backyard is a must if you want to see these beautiful, sociable birds up close. 

To help draw starlings to your space, remember to offer a variety of food sources, like suet, insects, and seeds. Keep their feeding area clean and replenished.

In your efforts to create a starling-friendly environment, providing shelter is vital. Nest boxes, dense shrubbery, or even your roof can offer suitable breeding sites. Be mindful of predators and uninvited guests so starlings stay safe and secure in your backyard.

Finally, remember to enjoy watching these energetic birds interact with each other and their environment. Observing their behaviors might teach you something new about these fascinating creatures. 

Remember, with a friendly approach and a well-cared-for habitat, your backyard can become a haven for these delightful, chatty birds.


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