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How to Identify Birds: The Starling

Although the starling is not native to North America, it can now be found in most of the U.S. and southern Canada.


  • Step 1: Observe the bird's size and shape Consider the bird's appearance through binoculars and compare it with the pictures in your field guide. Starlings have stout bodies, short tails and long, slender beaks. In flight their wings are short and pointed, so that the birds resemble four-pointed stars.
  • Step 2: Observe the bird's coloring Consider the bird's color. Starlings may appear black from a distance, but in summer they are iridescent purple-green with yellow beaks. In winter they are brown with white spots and dark bills.
  • Step 3: Observe the bird's call Consider the bird's call. In the spring, starlings sit together in trees and produce a variety of sounds, including squeaks, chatters, chirps, and a whistle.
  • TIP: Starlings imitate the calls of other birds and animals, and have been heard mimicking the barking of a dog and the mewing of a cat.
  • Step 4: Observe the bird's behavior Consider the bird's behavior. Starlings travel in large flocks, often with other species, and are frequently found sitting on telephone wires, buildings, or trees.
  • Step 5: Consider the bird's habitat Consider the habitat where the bird is observed. Starlings like to live around human settlements, and they feed on the ground in spaces they share with humans, such as lawns and parking lots.
  • FACT: About 100 starlings were introduced into New York City's Central Park from Europe in 1890.

You Will Need

  • Binoculars
  • A field guide

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