Baby Starlings: A Comprehensive Guide

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In the UK and many other areas of Europe, the common or European starling (Sturnus vulgari) is a common and ubiquitous bird that may be seen year-round. They were brought to the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, among other nations, where their populations are now well-established and prospering.

Despite their abundance in most towns, cities, and rural villages, not much is known about the appearance of starling newborns. In an attempt to address the most often-asked issues about baby starlings, we have created this guide, which also has a ton of images of starling newborns.

What is the appearance of a newborn starling?

A thin layer of light grey or white natal down covers the almost naked newborn starlings. The down on the head is often gray or brown in color. The interior of the beak (gape) has a brilliant orange color, while the bill is a vivid yellow.

Compared to other birds, nestling starlings often have a greater quantity of natal down, despite the fact that they hatch almost naked.

Because starlings are born altrical, they hatch in an immature form, are virtually defenseless, and rely only on their parents to survive.

When a nestling is two days old, it will begin to move, and by four days, it can normally crawl.

Typically, the eyes of the birds do not open until they are six to seven days old.

Though they are visible under the skin, the contour feathers won’t emerge until the chick is around a week old. Generally speaking, starling infants require between 15 and 21 days to completely feather up.

Nestlings reach a developmental period in their plumage when they can control their body temperature. This is usually when the chicks start to get about 13 days old.

What size is a newborn starling?

Like most birds, starling chicks are small when hatching. Their legs (tarsus) are just 9mm long, and the highest ridge of their beak (the culmen) is only 8mm in length.

What is the weight of a newborn starling?

A European Starling newborn weighs just 6.4 grams on average.

During the first eleven to twelve days of life, baby starlings gain bulk rather quickly. When they get to this age, their typical weight is 71 grams.

After gaining around one gram per day over the next week, starling chicks reach a weight of approximately 78 grams at eighteen days. This is usually the highest weight the chicks will ever achieve before they begin to drop to around 71 grams again on days 21 or 22.

What is the appearance of a young starling?

The size and form of juvenile starlings are comparable to that of adults. Their overall color is mostly light grey-brown, with a lightish chin and buffy white breasts with brown tips. It’s a long, black bill. The margins of the feathers on the wings and tail are tinted like cinnamon.

What’s the name of a newborn starling?

Baby starlings are called either a chick, hatchling, nestling, or fledgling; there are no particular words for them. Ornithologists and birdwatchers don’t commonly refer to starlings as babies; instead, they use one of the words listed above, depending on the stage of the birds’ lives.

Click here to learn more about the phases of a newborn bird and the appropriate use of these names.

What nourishes young starlings?

Male and female starlings return to the nest together to feed their young, which are a variety of tiny, soft-bodied invertebrates. This includes beetles, caterpillars, millipedes, cranefly larvae, grasshoppers, and crickets, however, it varies according to their environment. As soon as the chicks hatch and are ready to feed, these little objects are given to them. A greater variety of food items and bigger insects will be offered to the nestlings as they become older.

In order to guarantee that the nestlings have adequate nourishment, parents often bring food items to the nest before the young hatch.

In general, the male and female will split up the young’s feeding responsibilities.

After juvenile starlings leave the nest, adults will continue to feed them for a short period before introducing them to the whole adult diet.

What appearance do starling eggs have?

While starling eggs may be white, they are often a light blue hue. It weighs around 7 grams and measures an average of 30 x 21 mm.

Starlings may produce up to two clutches during a breeding season, each clutch containing four or five eggs.

How long does it take for starling eggs to hatch?

After they are deposited, starling eggs typically take 12 to 15 days to hatch.

The male and female will alternate incubating the eggs, often switching roles many times throughout the day. This is due to the fact that periods of incubation prior to a switch might be as little as 10 to 30 minutes.

While both parents will participate in the incubation process, females typically handle around 70% of the process and will spend the whole night sitting on the eggs.

When do starlings hatch?

The starling breeding season begins in March and lasts until July across their natural habitat. In the UK and other northern regions of their habitat, the breeding season is often significantly shorter and takes place mostly in April and May.

The breeding season is later and typically occurs in North America between September and December.

How do chicks get fed by starlings?

Parents bring back soft-shelled insects when the chicks are small and have just hatched, and they delicately insert them into the mouths of the pleading and hungry chicks.

The parents feed their chicks between 100 and 300 times a day on average, which is a somewhat intense operation. Food is returned to the nest about every 14 minutes on average.

The busiest periods of the day are usually in the morning and late afternoon, when starlings may feed their young up to 20 times each hour.

When do young starlings learn to fly?

Generally speaking, infant starlings can fly at 19 days of age, however this might vary by one or two days per individual. They don’t always leave the nest, even though they can fly rather effectively at this point.

Starling nestlings practice their wings and legs in the nest before they can take flight, which is basically their way of preparing for the outer world.

Baby starlings leave the nest when?

When they are around three weeks old (21 days old), most starling chicks often leave the nest. But often, it could take them one or two more days before they completely leave the nest.

Upon becoming independent, they often retain the majority of their feathers and have the ability to fly for extended distances; nevertheless, they typically avoid venturing too far from their nesting location.

Fleeing starlings are still fed by their parents for the first few days after they leave the nest. As they wait to be fed, they will perch in the trees close to the nest.

Starlings nest where?

Usually found in trees, starlings build their nests in holes and other cavities. Other common locations include homes, structures, woodpecker nestboxes, and abandoned cavities. The first need is a gap or opening.

The nest cavity will be packed with a combination of grass, twigs, and pine needles when a suitable spot has been identified. It is also possible to employ other materials including fabric, feathers, thread, paper, and plastics.

A variety of materials, including moss, wool, fine grass, feathers, fine bark, and even paper, may be used to line the cup.

Although in exceptional cases they may be over eighteen meters above the ground, nests are typically three to eight meters above the ground on average.

Are nests reused by starlings?

Though they usually don’t utilize the same exact nests, starlings have been known to construct on top of existing ones when it makes sense to do so. This is estimated to be around one-third of females on average who will go back to their prior nesting place.

While most starling colonies do prefer to breed annually in the same places, their fledged young will usually band together and start new colonies elsewhere.

When does a starling leave its parents?

Although fledgling starlings are more than capable of fending for themselves after they leave the nest, parents often feed them for the first one or two days after they leave the nest.

After leaving the nest, the fledglings often rely on their parents for ten to twelve days. During this period, the amount of food that the parents offer gradually decreases, forcing the young starlings to start fending for themselves.

Juvenile starlings often sleep communally with other young starlings and eat in mixed groups with adults and other juveniles when they are able to live independently of their parents.

Are starlings lifelong partners?

Typically, starlings do not mate for life. They raise a brood with a single mate every breeding season since they are primarily monogamous, albeit this tendency is usually limited to a single season or brood.

It is also known that starlings may be polygamous, which means that males can have many partners throughout the mating season and end up having several broods with various females.

Usually, four days before the start of egg-laying, male starlings will start protecting their partner. In order to protect the female, the males must follow her closely as she forages for food and drives them away.

When the male goes to another nearby nest site in an effort to entice a second mate, this guarding behavior may come to an early end.

If you come across a newborn starling, what should you do?

When you come across a newborn starling, the first thing you should do is identify it as a fledgling or a nestling. This will help you decide whether or not to take action.

It should be safe to let the starling alone if it is a fledgling. Newly fledged birds often remain on the ground for one or two days before their flight feathers completely mature. The parents are generally nearby in a tree, so it’s advisable to keep a watchful check on things from a distance.

When there are any risks or dangers close by, then is the only moment to step in and help a fledgling. For example, if they are close to or on a road, or if they have pets that may easily harm the newborn starling.

Because they will have fewer feathers if any, than adult starlings, nestlings are simple to distinguish.

The best course of action, assuming it can be confirmed that the nestling is a starling and that it seems healthy, is to try to find the nest and return it there with the least amount of disruption possible while the parent is away.

There’s a widespread misperception that parents would reject a newborn bird placed back in the nest. Since all birds have rather poor senses of smell, starlings will not reject their young if they have been touched by people.

Re-introducing an ill or damaged baby starling nestling into its nest is not a good idea since it could have been rejected. In this situation, it’s recommended to put the starling chick inside a cardboard box that has been lined with paper towels before getting in touch with a specialist or your local wildlife authority.

Why am I unable to nurture the starling chick on my own?

Although it could be tempting, we generally advise leaving it to the professionals to raise the infant starling.

Though bringing the baby starling chick back to health and releasing it into the wild is a great gesture, they do need certain diets and feeding schedules. Although there are many online resources available for rearing starling chicks, it’s usually better to leave it to the experts, as was previously indicated.

I'm Nauman Afridi, the bird enthusiast behind Birdsology.com. My lifelong passion for birds has led me to create a space where fellow bird lovers can find valuable insights and tips on caring for our feathered friends.Professionally, I'm a brand strategist and digital marketing consultant, bringing a unique perspective to the world of bird care. Whether you're a novice or an experienced bird owner, Birdsology.com is designed to be a welcoming community for all.Feel free to explore, and reach out if you have any questions or just want to chat about birds.
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