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Starling Talk
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Adult Starling Diet

Here you will find information about a daily diet which will supply adult starlings with the high levels of animal protein they need. Additionally there are lists of nutritional treat foods, foods to avoid, recipes, and links to insect suppliers below. For frequently asked questions about starling nutrition, click on this link: Nutrition, and for information on their natural diet click here: Wild Starling Diet

If you have a baby starling, please click on the following link for a handfeeding formula recipe and information on baby bird care: Baby Starling Care.

Basic Daily Diet for Captive Adult Starlings

There are many recipes for feeding adult starlings, but most are based on a dog food mixture. As mentioned on my baby starling care page, starlings are omnivores yet are close to being insectivores, and they require high amounts of animal protein in their diets. If the diet is fundamentally unsound (imbalanced), no amount of supplementation with vitamins or minerals will help. Parrot handfeeding formula and softbill pellets are not appropriate foods for starlings. The softbill pellets are made for fruit eaters such as Hill Mynahs. Unlike mynahs, starlings are highly insectivorous. For more information about why a dog food mixture is commonly fed to wild songbirds by wildlife rehabbers, read my webpage entitled, What? Feed Dog Food To A Starling?

Basic Dog Food Mixture
(made with dry dog or cat food)

  • 2 cups soaked dry dog/cat food *
  • 1/2 cup of poultry mash (or softbill pellets)
  • Feed in a separate bowl about a tablespoon each, of applesauce and hard boiled egg. This should be removed after an hour or so to prevent spoiling

*If your bird will eat the dog/cat food mix dry and ground up (not soaked), you don't need to feed it wet.

For the dry dog food recipe, Innova Puppy Dry Food (26% protein and 12% fat) and Purina One Senior Protection Formula dry dog food (28% protein and 12% fat) seem to be close to a starling's nutritional needs. Cat food such as Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul brand - Adult Cat Light Formula dry food (32% protein and 9% fat) will work for feeding young birds. Always read the label of the product to make sure not only the protein/fat ratio is right but that the first ingredient listed is chicken or meat.

Poultry "mash" or "crumbles" needs to be made specifically for adult chickens or turkeys. Do not use the medicated mash made for chicks! If there are no feed stores or other stores in your area which carry poultry mash, then Kaytee or Pretty Bird softbill pellets can be substituted as long as they make up no more than 1/4 of the diet. Poultry mash is preferred, however.

The dog food mixtures, if you use soaked food, may be divided into portions and frozen for later use. Take portions from freezer as needed, and defrost in microwave. Let cool throughout so that no hot spots remain in food when serving.

Treat Foods for Adult Starlings

Below are some foods which can be added on top of the basic dog food mixture or can be served in a small dish as a treat. Keep in mind that these foods are very good additions and will supply necessary vitamins, but they are not meant to substitute for the daily dog food diet which supplies the much needed animal protein required by starlings. Treat foods should be fed in small portions only.

Good Treat Foods
Figs - considered a "super fruit" because of the extremely high nutritional content.
Sweet potatoes, carrots, beets and turnips, cooked.
Dandelion leaves (high in Vitamin A) Buy organic, or be sure that the ones you pick are free from pesticides or exposure to auto exhaust fumes.
Broccoli florets
Beet greens, celery leaves, turnip greens
Fresh or frozen vegetables such as green beans, corn, tomatoes, peas. (If you use canned, rinse first to remove extra salt.)
Hard boiled eggs
Cooked meats such as tuna or chicken.
Corn bread & other enriched breads such as multi grain breads (See the recipe section below.)
Berries, especially dark colored ones such as blueberries.
Grapes, especially purple ones.
Cottage Cheese (low fat and sodium cheese in small amounts)
Apples and other fruits
Apple and cherry juice
Chopped nuts
Mealworms (which have been kept in a poultry mash substrate)
Crickets (see list of insect suppliers)

Foods to Avoid
Avocado -- believed to be toxic. Chocolate and candy
Raw meat and raw eggs Coffee and sodas
Salty foods such as potato chips and crackers. Rhubarb leaves (toxic)
Processed meats (too high in salt and fat) Milk
Alcohol & alcoholic beverages Earthworms
Some house plants are toxic to birds. Click here: Unsafe plants  

Treat Recipes

One recipe for a nutritional homemade supplemental food. Remember, this food is not meant to take the place of the daily dog food diet for starlings! For additional recipes, please visit Chef Ringo's cooking website. Ringo knew exactly what starlings like. Click here to see his site: Cooking with Ringo

Jessica's Hen Patties
  • 1 whole pre-cooked chicken
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs (shell and all)
  • 2 cans of 5.5 oz. Nutro Max puppy formula) chicken, lamb, and rice formula)
  • 3 1/2 cups poultry mash
  • 1/2 cup "Pretty Bird" brand hand-raising formula
  • 2 Tbsp. powdered "Bio Greens" (from the Vitamin Shoppe)

  • First, I take the meat off the chicken. I rinse the meat in the sink to get off any salt or seasoning that might remain on it from the seasonings they put on the skin at the grocery store. I then blend the chicken meat only (no skin or bones) in a food processor until it is the mushy consistency of canned dog food.

    I then add two cans of 5.5 oz. dog food. (I used two different kinds of puppy formula canned dog food this time -- Nutro Max and Authority) I then add two whole hard-boiled eggs. Next, I add "Bio Greens" and the hand-raising formula to the mix and blend in the food processor until well mixed. (I'm thinking you could add vitamins here or sprinkle them on top with each feeding.) Next I add the above mixture to 3 1/2 cups of poultry mash in a large bowl. By hand, I knead the blended mixture with the poultry mash to make 14 hamburger sized patties. The final step is putting the patties into freezer-safe bags. One thawed pattie (kept in the fridge) will feed a starling for about three days.

    Insect Suppliers

    Click on titles below to visit suppliers' websites: - Assorted insectivore foods

    Golden West - A bag of Bugs $8.95.

    Orchid Tree Exotics - Quiko Goldy-A non-seed based diet for insectivorous birds $12.35

    Grubco - Live and freeze dried insects, various prices.

    Audubon Workshop - Dried caterpillars for $15.99 (1/2 lb)

    Cuttlebone Plus - Bugs-n-Berries. Contains insect larvae gut-loaded with spirulina and canthaxanthin. 1 pound for $9.00

    Fluker Farms - Flukers Crickets (live and freeze dried); $7.99 for 1.4 ounce jar.

    Mulberry Farms - Silkworms; no price available.

    Mazuri Insectivore Diet - needs to be ordered from your local Purina dealer

    Reliable Protein Foods - Assorted insect foods; various prices.

    Birds 2 Grow - Bevo Insect Diet 8.00 per kg.

    Worm Man's Worm Farm - Live mealworms and crickets; prices vary.

    Timber Line Fisheries - Mealworms and Crickets, 50 count cup $5.70.

    Grooms Cricket Farm - Crickets

    New York Worms - Assorted insects and supplies

    Natures Way - Mealworms

    Russell's Cricket Farm - Crickets, cricket cages, worms

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