The primary food of starlings is insects and other invertebrates, such as flies, beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, earthworms, caterpillars, snails, millipedes and insect larvae. They also eat fruits, berries, seeds, grains and other plant matter. Additionally, when dumpsters and trash bins are left open, they feed on garbage.
In the late 19th century, European starlings were let loose into Central Park in New York by Shakespeare enthusiasts intent on introducing all of the animals mentioned in his works. They quickly multiplied and spread across North and Central America. As of 2014, there are about 150 million starlings in the United States. They are social birds and are commonly seen foraging in flocks on lawns, pastures, farms, golf courses and other open areas. They nest in any open cavity they can find, including buildings, utility poles and trees.
Many people consider starlings to be an invasive species because they compete with native birds for habitat, scatter garbage while foraging and leave deposits of droppings beneath nesting areas. In some cities and towns, large roosts of starlings also create considerable noise. The American Humane Society recommends that, rather than kill intrusive starlings, homeowners should close off cavities that could provide possible nesting sites and keep rubbish containers tightly sealed.