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European Starling
Sturnus vulgaris
– Family
Authors: Cabe, Paul R.

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Adult European Starling, breeding plumage.
Figure 1. Distribution of the European Starling in North America

The success of the European Starling in North America is nothing less than phenomenal. Although estimates vary, it is commonly believed that a total of about 100 individuals was released into Central Park, in New York City, in 1890 and 1891. The entire North American population, now numbering more than 200 million and distributed across most of the continent, is derived from these few birds. This is arguably the most successful avian introduction to this continent.

Although the European Starling is most frequently associated with disturbed areas created by man, it has had a significant impact on our native avifauna. In particular, it offers intense competition for nesting cavities and has had a detrimental effect on many native cavity-nesting species.

Because of the starling’s abundance and association with humans, many aspects of its natural history are known in detail, from studies both in its native range and in areas to which it was introduced. It has also served as a model for studying basic avian biology. Recent research has done much to illuminate the mechanics of flight and control of the endocrine system (e.g. see Nicholls et al. 1988; Dial et al. 1991). A good overview of much of this information is included in Feare (1984).