Where Did the European Starling Come From?

The European starling is native to Eurasia, but due to widespread introductions by humans, it now has a much wider range. Starlings are notoriously invasive in much of North America.

The European starling is a shiny, black bird with striking iridescent tones to its feathers. The North American starling population comes from about 100 birds released in Central Park in 1890 by the American Acclimatization Society. This organization sought to bolster American flora and fauna through the introduction of European species. Many sources claim that one goal of the society was to introduce into North America all of the birds species mentioned in the works of Shakespeare; the European starling appears in a single line of "Henry IV, Part 1."

European starlings now number over one million, and their range extends from Canada to northern Mexico. They often drive native birds from nests and destroy nests, eggs and nestlings. This behavior raises concerns that European starling populations might have a detrimental impact on native species. Recent research, however, indicates that sapsuckers are the only birds losing ground due to the activity of European starlings. Additionally, like many other North American songbirds, European starlings are declining in number, resulting in an approximately 40 percent loss across their range in North America.