Are Starlings territorial


I have large a amount of Starlings in my area and that use my feeder, and was just wondering if anyone had any knowledge of their behavoural patterns?

I've noticed a few things. At first they were relatively ignorant of each other while feeding but over time have become more competitive. They were originally just squabbling and jumping up and down at each other. This then progressed to lunging at each other beak to beak. Now that they seem to have paired up its getting more violent. They seem more frequently to be landing in pairs with one feeding and the other as a sentry. Almost always a 3rd one will appear and swoop down on them and chase them off. It's a tireless task though due to the amount of visitors I have. I know they have at least one nest in a roof of a house fairly near and I wondered if it may be defending that.

However, my impression was that as they flocked in such large numbers they weren't easily threatened. 

Anyone with any thoughts?



I won't be happy until I've got a penguin down :)

  • Anonymous

    Hi Steve,

    Not in the sense that they attempt to monopolize a given area and it's resources, like Robins for instance. A pair will, however defend the immediate vicinity of the nest hole. Once breeding is over, most species' territories break up, and individuals become more gregarious. There are exceptions, of course, and indeed Robins defend a winter territory, hence they're one of the comparatively few species which sing in winter. Although the song doesn't contain a sexual element.

    Territories can be rigid or flexible, or a combination of both, depending on the species and prey densities. Gannets, for example, only defend the nest site as far as their bills will reach, while, in certain circumstances, Golden Eagle territories may cover 150 square Km.

    Hope this helps,


  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Thanks Mickycoop,

    This helps confirm what I've been thinking. As I mentioned, I do suspect I have a nest approximately 150 feet away from my feeder and this has only been happening in the last 2-3 weeks which will coincide with the nest being occupied. I just wasn't sure whether our feeder was close enough to threaten those breeding there. Who knows, I may have a closer nest I am unaware of! 

    Anyway, thanks for your reply to this. 


    I won't be happy until I've got a penguin down :)

  • In reply to LloydScott:


    Thank you LloydScott. That has come in very handy!



    I won't be happy until I've got a penguin down :)

  • In reply to Userlt863:

    Very interesting and informative thread. Thanks for starting it Steve.

    I'm like you, I have a whole colony of starlings in my smallish garden. During the winter I had upwards of 25 all at once - and they didn't just pop in. About half of them stayed most of the day, having bun fights, tossing out the seed they didn't want, emptying the bath, having airborne squabbles, and generally polishing off all the suet treats round the garden, earning several ASBO's every day. This is now down to about 10, thank goodness, with about 6 who are here all day. They have been very busy collecting nesting material from my garden - they seem to like honeysuckle leaves best, so must have nests somewhere close. I have noticed there are less squabbles rather than more, but perhaps this is because there are fewer of them.

    You may know I have just been to Anglesey for a week, and I didn't see one single starling! I must admit I quite missed them!

    Cheers, Linda.

    See my photos on Flickr

  • In reply to Sparrow:

    Hi Sparrow,

    Oh I loved reading this! :) I sympathise completely with what they put you through. But like a naughty child that comes good I still love them and from your last comment i guess you do too. 

    I agree though that there numbers do need limiting. They some much more violent in large groups and also its very expensive feeding them all too! :)

    Anyways, hope you enjoy the joy they bring.



    I won't be happy until I've got a penguin down :)

  • Hi
    I have a Starling that came to me a few months ago. He/she would just land on me and chill for hours with me and my family.
    I do have a cat and she thought this was a free meal, which she was wrong.
    Well this bird Zazu has now become part of the family and has a place in the house.
    My question is other than meal worms, strawberries, and the odd bits of cat food what else do Starlings eat?
  • Hi Zazu they will eat peanuts, suet pellets etc but whether they are good for them as a main food I don't know
    If it can fly and is healthy it is probably best outside, you for try getting outside you may find it can get its own food and then choose to come back to you.

    My Flickr photos

  • Strange angle, but the photo on your profile doesn't look like a starling. I see you are in Ontario. Is it an escapee that someone lost?