do starlings eat other birds eggs

Starlings are cavity-nesting birds and will use vents and ducts in homes to build nests and raise young.

European starlings are widespread across North America. They eat a wide variety of foods and are willing to use a wide variety of places to nest and roost. This flexible nature helps them thrive in cities and suburbs as well as on farms. They are one of only a few birds who live in otherwise barren industrial urban wastelands.

Starlings only nest in cavities and are happy to use those provided by people—stove, dryer, and exhaust fan vents, for example—are popular nest sites, along with the bird houses we put up.

But people also complain about starlings getting in the trash. And settling in numbers onto lawns, where they are undoubtedly providing a service by eating insects.

More seriously, large flocks—up to tens of thousands of birds—sometimes roost in urban places where their noise and droppings are extremely unwelcome.

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Common problems and solutions

Preventing starlings from building their nest is the ideal way to deal with them. Seal any gaps before they emerge and begin construction. Consider the following questions: “Have they nested in a vent before?” “Is there a cavity on the house they might like?” If you find them constructing before the eggs are laid, take the nest down and cover the hole they were using properly.

To seal an opening, use metal flashing, hardware cloth, or commercial vent covers (the latter are usually the easiest to use). Lighter materials, like window screening or plastic netting, rarely succeed in keeping determined starlings out. Any vent covering you use for starlings needs to be routinely inspected to ensure that nothing, including lint from a dryer, is obstructing the vent’s ability to function.

Nests in building cavities and vents

If a hole leads to a sufficiently large cavity, starlings will use it. Dryer, stove, and bathroom vents are ideal. They might not be discouraged by a metal flap on a vent because they can hover or perch and raise the flap to access vents.

Vents with nests inside may not function properly. This can be inconvenient or, in some cases, unsafe. The nesting material may need to be removed immediately.

Young starlings occasionally get trapped in vents and fall into uninhabitable open areas. This might be particularly true for exhaust vents on stoves and microwaves. It might be necessary to remove the microwave or hood in order to help a starling out of one of these vents, so you might want to hire an expert.

Is it possible to leave this vent unattended until the young leave the nest? If yes, handle this nest the same way you would a nest in an attic or other similar cavity.

FAQ

Do starlings harm other birds?

Starlings seem to primarily target Northern Flickers and other woodpeckers but they have been seen raiding kestrel and screech owl boxes as well. They will also kill smaller songbirds that are nesting in an area with a large enough entrance for them to fit.

Can starlings eat eggs?

Male starlings are especially aggressive in their search for nest sites: They will peck holes in eggs laid by other birds, throw out their nesting material, and kill their young.

Do any birds eat other birds eggs?

While most birds in your yard probably consume insects and/or seeds, some backyard birds do eat other birds. Some target adult birds. Some eat other birds’ nestlings. And some eat the eggs of other birds.

Do starlings take other birds nests?

Starlings are a fairly recent and extremely successful arrival to North America and are fierce competitors for nest cavities. Starlings often take over the nests of native birds, expelling the occupants. With so many starlings around, there is concern about their effect on native bird populations.