I have read about the decline in the starling population and am wondering why, in my area, this does not seem to be the case.
When taking part in the Garden Birdwatch I counted at least 12 Starlings in and around my small back yard. I live in a terrace house, very close to the coast (Wirral area) and have a small enclosed patio/pebble yard. There are no significant trees, apart from my honeysuckle and clematis hedge and an out of control privet belonging to next door. There is a budlea at the back of the next road's garden which is close to mine. There is nothing else in my yard apart from pot plants and herbs but I keep a bird feeder almost all year round which has been taken over by my sparrow flock (living in the clematis) and some collared doves. I see very few other birds apart from the odd blackbird and wood pigeon.
The area in which I live is semi rural with beautiful woods and common land less than a mile away and a nature walk created from an old railway line less than half a mile away.
The starlings have gone now but return every year. Has the surrounding environment had a significant effect ? Is this the type of environment starlings thrive in ? What exactly is the criteria to encourage their survival ?
Hi Lily/Belladonna welcome to the forum from Sheffield.
I can't help you with what sort of environment the Starlings like other than to say at peak times i can get a couple of hundred in my garden when they decide to check my lawns out for grubs, i've always got 20ish on the feeders and create quite a racket.
I think they are on the Red list due to the number drop from what there used to be but there does still seem to be a lot about.
You're in a lovely part of the country i've done a lot of work on the Wirral for Merseyrail.
My photos are on Flickr and Website
Thanks for posting!
The starling is one of a number of birds tied to urban and rural habitats that is in steep decline although they are still a commonly observed bird.
Whilst the reasons are not fully understood surrounding there decline, a number of things can be done to help them out as illustrated on our Homes for Wildlife page here.
Starlings nest in cavities, we sell a nestbox for them with a 45mm entrance hole. The acces to roof space and natural cavities in trees are few and far between these days so the provision of nesting boxes can be great for them. They also need insect rich lawns to find food, again these are not easy to find in the urban environment. Leaving lawn chemicals alone and managing the lawn to incorporate long and short grass will help increase biodiversity which will have benefits to all garden birds.
Check out the rest of the Homes for Wildlife advice for more ideas on how to help attract in wildlife to the garden.
Find out what's hot in the world of wildlife with the wildlife enquiries blog here
Thanks Alan, I'll just loading the feeders !
Another bird I've noticed recently as being more prevalent than in previous years is the Goldfinch. I've seen them on the shore line hopping about amongst the stones and sea weed. Is this typical behaviour ? Aren't they more suited to a woodland environment ? Perhaps they are just opportunist feeders, what do you think ?
Goldfinches are seed eaters, they like thistle seeds etc so i don't know what they could be getting from stones and seaweed.
Well I thought it was a bit weird ! Glad somebody else thinks so !
Maybe there's someone out there who can answer this ? They are definitely Goldfinches, I'm sure of that even though I am an absolute amateur when it comes to birdy ID's !
I am also in Sheffield city center and have never seen so many Starlings as this year. Both in my garden but more significantly in the very center itself. There are urbanised Starlings behaving similarly to pigeons. Even mixing in with the pigeons hunting for human food. Outside McDonalds, Gregs the bakers, anywhere where there is likely to be food dropped. There are odd trees here and there in the center with literally hundreds of them (although they chopped the best one down this year). I think perhaps the mystery of the missing Starlings is people looking in the wrong place. They've adapted, at least here they have I can't speak for other UK cities.
IanHStarlings nest in cavities
"All weeds are flowers, once you get to know them" (Eeyore)
My photos on Flickr
Has anyone else seen Starlings competing with pigeons directly in other city centers? From what I've witnessed they are faster and get there 1st generally, also they fly away with the food instead of eating it there like pigeons do. You can they're city-starlings, they are dirty and dark like the pigeons. If this is a Sheffield only thing I'll try and get footage.
But it occurs to me that garden-based population estimates may not work with species that have moved into the center of towns & cities.
Hiya Intr0 welcome to the forum rom just outside Sheffield.
I've not been into Sheffield for a while nut the last time i was around the Peace Gardens all i seemed to see were Pigeons, i'll have to keep a look out for the Starlings next time
There used to be several hundred in the Starlling tree outside Boots on the Moor. I almost cried when I realised they chopped it down. If I had known beforehand I would have organised a resistance. The noise was remarkable. There still seem to be lots of them in the area between McDonalds wrapping around to The Bankers Draft, I have also seen trees in that area with a hundred or 2. The small park square near the bus depo especially. The last couple of times I went into Greggs (the one near The Bankers Draft) there were several starlings perched actually on the Greggs shop sign. I'm one of those people who can't resist feeding pigeons, it's just the riot of nature I can't resist. But before this year, I've never seen so many Starlings competing directly with the pigeons. And doing ok too, at the end of the day pigeons have long since learnt to adapt and live of the estimated 1 metric tonne of food waste dropped in the average city center daily (Figure taken from an anti-rat campaign). I think Starlings are doing the same, perhaps copying the pigeons behavior. But they look dirty, greasy and some of them injured. Just like the sad sorry state you see some some pigeons in, missing legs and stuff. They're not pretty.
I noticed the Pigeons looked in a pretty rough way with toes and feet missing, thankfully the couple of hundred starlings i get in my garden look in tip top condition.
Yes, it's a despiration thing I think. But I've seen a few Starlings with deformed toes and such. Like they've been stepped on. Only in the city center though. I very rarely see them in my garden despite getting Jays, Bullfinches, robins, wood-pigeons, magpies, crows, goldwings and even once a Golden Oriole (yeah i know). I have been leaving various food in my garden for years and yet I've seen perhaps 6 or 7 in 3 or 4 years (all of them this year). But I see hundreds in the very, very retail center where no-one lives.
I don't go into our local town centre, but they swarm all over our local retail park, pecking at dropped pie crusts and macdonald wrappers. I'm a nervous wreck driving round there sometimes as they run under and in front of cars. Also they run up to the doors at Asda running between peoples legs. Much rather see them in gardens.
I went into the center today hunting for starlings. The moor is still where you need to go, there are still hundreds if not thousands of them. Despite their favourite tree being cut down (I called it the starling tree, because it was like something out of the Hitchcock film The Birds). The Starlings have nested in the eaves/crevases of the roofs of the main retail stretch of what is known as the moor. Specifically near Boots. But they don't stick to that area all day they seem to have a feeding cycle around the human lunch break. They move into the very center towards midday through 2 pm. Someone needs to do a documentary if this isn't normal behaviour.