European starlings (also called “rat birds”) are sturdy black songbirds that belong to the tyrant flycatcher family.
Be it your roof, attic, basement, backyard garden, or a gutter, they can literally build their nest anywhere you can think of.
In simple words, European starlings are birds that can easily adapt to almost every kind of habitat.
The ability that makes them successful is their wariness due to which it becomes very hard to capture these birds.
- What is a European Starling?
- Why is European Starling a Problem?
- How to Control European Starlings Infestation?
- How Do You Get Rid of Starling Nests in Gutters?
What is a European Starling?
European starlings or starlings are common in urban areas.
They have a black coat with metallic looking pinkish legs and short-tail.
They usually nests inside buildings or wall cavities, and are known for their loud noises.
In the open, starlings can also be found in farms, fields, empty lamp posts, billboards, and signs, etc.
European starlings feed on a variety of substances which include insects, berries, fruits, grains, cracked corn, and seeds.
They may also eat poultry feed (including cattle, and hog feed) due to which they are prone to transmit various diseases.
The seeds starlings do not like to eat include Nyjer seed, safflower seed, and whole peanuts.
Why is European Starling a Problem?
Starlings are the birds that usually travel in flocks of thousands which can be extremely dangerous to air travel.
Plus, these birds are known to cause great damage to crops and other agricultural operations every year.
In addition to these, starlings can be a hazard for you when they invade your house and creates a mess all over.
As they can create a lot of mess within no time, they can easily make you go mad especially if present in a large group.
Besides being messy, they can be cause structural damage to your property.
Like, when present on your rooftops or metal sheds, regular droppings can erode the metal components of structures very fast.
b) Health risks
Starlings can also be a cause of severe health hazards for humans and pets.
Not only the waste and mess they create in homes but also the fungus present in their droppings can be dangerous.
This should not be ignored as it can cause various kinds of illnesses.
c) Loud noises
With higher vocal abilities, Starlings are skilled at making and imitating various different sounds.
They are good at copying variety of songs or sounds of other birds and animals (like frog calls, cats, etc) and are believed to be a better talker than parrots.
When present in large groups they can be really annoying as all of them keep producing their thrilling and chirping sounds.
These noises can become louder and even more disturbing with the increasing population – when they flock around in groups over your building.
Starlings are highly fertile and can reproduce at an alarming rate.
Due to their high fertility rates and growing numbers, there will be increased competition for food when other native bird species are present around.
And, this is the reason why most homeowners are worried when starlings are found to be nesting on their roof.
Most important of all, starlings are known for their aggression to other birds.
Being highly territorial they can drive other native birds out of their territory.
Not only by bullying other harmless bird varieties, but they can even kill them for their own food or shelter.
These birds can occasionally attack humans if they get close to their nests, particularly during fledgling season.
How to Control European Starlings Infestation?
European Starlings, as said, are sometimes very helpful birds that should not be harmed.
And so it is important to know how to properly keep them away from spaces where they shouldn’t be, without harming them.
As such there are many ways to actively solve the problem of European starlings’ presence near the home.
Fortunately, the solutions are varied, and all can be successful, though in some situations their effectiveness can depend on the location you are living in.
1- Frightening Starling Away
Like every bird Starlings are also scared of its predators.
Taking advantage of this, you can easily frighten them by installing artificial predators in your gardens such as the decoy of the owls.
You can also get many devices in the market that can serve your purpose.
These are like scary eyes, sonic devices, reflective mirrors, inflated balloons (with holographic eyes drawn on them), falcon bird deterrent kite, etc.
Pyrotechnics, shell crackers, or fireworks can also work in case you want to keep starlings from crops and aircraft.
These methods are most commonly used in the agricultural as well as aviation industry where bird strikes are a common problem and can cause plane crashes.
2- Block their Access
Starlings will keep coming into your building to look for places where they can easily build the nests for themselves and their young ones.
You should therefore check for any holes and cavities in your place (like the one in your attic) from where these birds can enter.
Also, check for the spaces in your chimneys, vents, pipe fittings, and eaves from where the birds can find their way
Seal them instantly (by using cavity plugs, wire mesh, chimney cap, etc.), and do not leave them uncovered as starlings and other birds can take the benefit.
3- Search and Remove the Nests
A simpler option that could achieve the same results involves homeowners going out into their land to look for European starling nests.
When the nests are discovered proper authorities can be called and the European starlings can be peacefully and safely removed.
If allowed in your state, you can legally destroy the nest yourself – provided they are not fully established.
If there are any eggs in the nest be humane and relocate the nest to some other safe area far from your place.
When destroying/removing the starling nest, make sure that the parent bird is away from the nest so that you are not attacked by them.
Though, of course, there are even more things that as a homeowner you can try.
4- Eliminate their Food and Water Sources
One of the main reasons why starlings choose your property for nesting is the plenty of food and water they will be getting from there.
If you have open trash containers, pet food, and water outside, make sure that you remove them from your place.
By keeping them indoors for few days you can discourage the starlings from coming.
Alternatively, you can install a nesting box or a birdhouse on your yard.
Or install a bird feeder on a tree where they can nest and build their home freely without coming and nesting in your eaves.
5- Take Steps to Decrease their Population
With a solution that lasts for a long time without consistent maintenance, you can have a guaranteed answer to the problem of European starling intrusion.
So, if you are really frustrated with the large group of Starlings in your area, you can take some extreme steps to control their population.
This will include trapping them for relocation, giving them slow-acting poison, or even shooting them down (if it’s allowed).
For trapping, you can simply bait starling traps with seeds, grains, suet, etc.
Laser beam technology is also many times used as a successful way for pest bird management that can cause damage to your crops.
Although this technique works only during particular times of the day, the main advantage it offers is you can adjust the wavelengths to specific frequencies so that it only proves harmful for specific birds and species and not the others.
How Do You Get Rid of Starling Nests in Gutters?
European Starlings nesting in the roof can be real headache.
Even if you remove their nests, they can reconstruct their homes in couple of hours.
When rebuilding the nests that can block the gutters, vents or can even tear through window screens.
Drainage pipes and gutters when clogged with starling nests can then cause severe water damage.
a) Install screens
To discourage them from building nests and blocking the gutters, you can install screens inside the gutter.
These screens and gutter guards are made of materials like wire mesh, plastic, or other surface tension materials.
When installed in your roof’s gutter system correctly, it will prevent the birds from getting access.
b) Hide the nest material
If you already have the nesting materials stuffed on your gutter, consider removing the material manually as soon as you can.
For fully established nests you can use a power washer to get rid of it when the bird is not present in the nest.
After you have removed the nest, make sure you do not throw the material in a trash.
If they find the material chances are, they will rebuild their nest fast.
So, it’s good to hide the nesting materials at a place where starlings do not find them easily.
c) Bird spikes and sticky gels
Secondly, you can install bird spikes or use bird repellent sticky gel to make your roof ledges, eaves, and gutters starling-proof.
These can either be nailed or stuck using an adhesive material to stop the birds from nesting in the gutter.
If you have very old gutters installed on your roof, getting them replaced with some newer models can also help a lot and can save a good amount of money.
Other Related Questions:
What are starlings afraid of?
Hawks, falcons, and owls, are the natural predators of starlings.
These are the prey birds that starlings are most afraid of.
For this reason, you can use Hawk Decoy in your balconies, patios, gardens, and other large open spaces to scare away the birds.
What is the best way to kill starlings?
Starlings are not protected by the federal and state laws.
So, if you have been fighting a losing battle with them, you can use lethal stuff like DRC-1339 and Purina’s Starlicide.
These are effective to use against starlings and blackbirds while keeping the danger to another wildlife minimum.
Antifreeze (used in automotive) is another fatal way that can poison birds like starlings.
However, this can also be toxic to other animals and pets around you.
So, you should use them with special care.
Why do starlings form Murmuration?
The Starling murmurations (a delightful pattern created when starlings fly in a large group of hundreds or even thousands) can be seen during the winter months.
The number for performing aerobatic displays peaks usually from December to January when more birds travel from Europe and join the resident birds.
The main reason why starlings flock in huge numbers is to keep them protected from predators.
By forming murmuration, they keep themselves warm at night.
Also, by gathering together they try to keep connected and inform others in the group about their feeding areas.
European Starlings flocking around your property, chiefly around the chicken and other domestic animals, can present more issues than benefits to the property.
Therefore, it is good to know how to solve the problem of European starling interaction in the most humane way possible.
The options I have discussed above are simpler and less invasive.
They are not meant to target European starlings but instead to keep them from being constantly invested in certain areas like roofs.
For that reason, they should be considered perhaps even before other tactics (like hiring a pest control team) to get rid of European starlings from your property.
Welcome to ProShieldPest.com. I am Tina Jones. I have been lately working as a pest removal professional in Winslow, Arizona. At present, I love to spend my time with my family as a retiree.
Here I share all my knowledge and experiences to help people understand better how they can stop pests at their homes without actually killing them. Hopefully, the information you will find here useful that can help in safeguarding your home! You can check more about me here.
Or in case you need to hire professional pest control services near your area, you can Click Here to get free instant quote now. We have already partnered with exterminators and companies to bring you exclusive discounts. Get in touch with them and we assure you get the priority service for all your pest control needs.