you ever wondered why there are so many articles on the web, (some
of them written by academicians who should know better), which state
that starlings have done great harm to native cavity nesting birds,
yet not a single one of these articles cite any research that would
substantiate that claim? I have spent a lot of time, without success,
looking for such scientific research. It appears that because European
Starlings are non-native, and therefore considered an invasive species,
that this sort of information is passed from one person to another
without anything other than hearsay to back it up.
In the article "European Starlings and Their
Effect on Native Cavity-Nesting Birds",
Conservation Biology, August 2003, vol. 17,
no. 4, pp. 1134-1140, Dr.
Koenig writes that in comparing the densities
of twenty-seven native cavity-nesting species
before and after invasion of sites by starlings,
that "only five species showed negative effects,
evidence for a decline in one analysis was countered
by an increase in the other, whereas in two
others declines were likely due to factors other
than starling competition. Only sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus
spp) exhibited declines potentially attributable
to starlings that were not countered by other
data. Native hole-nesting birds have thus far
apparently held their own against the starling
invasion, despite the latter's abundance and
aggressive usurpation of often limited cavities".
read this abstract please go to: European
Starlings and Their Effect on Native Cavity-Nesting
Dr. Walter D. Koenig is a graduate of the University of California,
Berkeley, Ph.D. in Zoology, December 1978. Post-doctoral: University
of California, Berkeley, 1978-1981. Is currently employed as Zoologist,
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, UCBerkeley, and Adjunct Professor, Department
of Integrative Biology, UCBerkeley.
In an article by Mr. Ole Post, "European
Starlings...The Other story: Starlings In Their
Native Lands and Habitat",The Purple
Martin Society, NA, Newsletter Summer 2003,
Mr. Post writes: "Nowhere in European scientific
literature have I found evidence of Starlings
emptying already occupied nests of other bird
species. Starlings remain a successful and resourceful
bird. In some ways their behavior reminds me
Mr. Post is a former member of the Board of
Directors, Danish Ornithological Society
To read about the natural diet of wild European
Starlings click here: Wild
To see pictures of starlings from egg to hatch click here:
In the Nest
Songbird Population Decline
information below was copied with permission
informs us that starlings are causing this country's
native songbird population to decline, we ask
them what studies or research on which they
base their views. They never give valid reasons
why they believe this! In fact they never seem
to know exactly which songbirds are declining!
It is obvious that they do not bother to look
into issues for themselves but rather choose
to blindly quote common misinformation they
hear from other individuals.
populations are indeed dwindling, but it is NOT due to European starlings!
Among the various causes, two that are currently being intensely studied
by researchers are loss of habitat
and habitat fragmentation.
If you are unfamiliar with either of those terms or if you
know little about the causes of songbird decline in our country, I encourage
you to hunt down as much valid up-to-date info as you can. When reading
info, check your resources to make sure they were not simply written
by Sam Starlinghater who has no degree in anything and whose idea of
research is to look out his window and say, "Yep, I see some evil
starlings out there. I can tell that they're about to eat everything
I planted in my fields or push another bird out of a hole."
people who have never actually looked into the causes or the extent
of songbird population decline, we list the following resources. Perhaps
they will start you on your own quest for knowledge about this serious
about Songbird Population Decline:
Case Of The Missing Songbirds" --
I list this article because it is a good introduction into the issue
of songbird decline. It not only gives readers a general overview of
songbird decline but also gives one an idea of the various probable
causes which research is finding pertinent to the problem. It mentions
The North American Breeding Bird Survey Results and Analysis (BBS),
a continent-wide census which was originated by Chandler Robbins and
which took place between the years of 1966-2002. This article also,
very importantly, mentions habitat fragmentation (and the resulting
problems songbirds face from predators) and habitat loss (both summer
breeding habitat and winter habitat ) -- issues being studied intensely
by scientists who are realizing that songbirds are adversely affected
by both. After reading this article, one might better know 'what' to
search for when looking for research and studies done on songbird decline.
of the Vanishing Songbirds - A new study looks at the decline of forest-dwelling
neotropical migratory birds" --
Interesting thought-provoking article which cites info and results of
studies done by various scientific researchers. The
new study which was cited in the above article was done by King and
Rappole on the destruction of winter songbird habitat. This report can
be found here
in its entirety.
Songbirds May Be Result Of Forest Fragmentation Across The American
South, New Study Suggests"
The study was published in Volume 12, No. 5 of Conservation Biology,
October 1998. It discusses songbird decline in the South; may be of
interest to those living in that region, especially since similar trends
are now being seen from studies done in other regions of the country.
Quote from the paper: "the study is a step toward understanding
with greater clarity why ground-nesting songbirds are declining in the
Population Trends of Selected Songbirds" --
States at the beginning, "For this study we used the CBC data to
examine population trends of songbirds with ranges that apparently are
limited by lower temperatures in the North. We chose these species to
track populations of birds that could be in peril in the future."
In the study, researchers examined 30 years of CBC data (winters of
1959-60 to 1988-89) for 50 songbirds whose northern range edges are
associated with January minimum temperatures. Read the paper to see
the study results. Especially click on the first chart beside the heading
"Trends" to see which birds studied were decreasing or increasing.
of Urbanization on Forest Wildlife" --
Read the first section in this document -- "5.2.1 Effects of urbanization
on forest birds" -- it takes up nearly the first half of the webpage.
Throughout the document, scientific papers and their authors are cited
frequently along with info given from each. Section two which is entitled,
"5.2.2 The effects of urbanization on birds of prey and scavengers"
is another interesting issue as well.
Links for those interested
in wild songbird conservation:
Loss and Fragmentation"
-- article by NPCA (National Park Conservation
and Endangered Animals and Plants" - US Fish and
Wildlife (FWS) site -- Under this heading you can click on links which
have lists of endangered species and look through them for lists of
Protected By The Migratory Bird Treaty Act
Bird Conservancy (ABC)
In Flight's most recent Watch List -- This was "developed
to highlight those birds of the continental United States not already
listed under the Endangered Species Act, that most warrant conservation
attention. It is both an early warning system for birds that may be
at risk and a device to draw national attention to the general condition
of our avifauna."