Starling hotel

Starlings breeding and nesting habits

Starlings nest in holes and cavities, especially in trees, but often use holes in buildings, including occupied houses.

Nesting habits

They nest in loose colonies and do not establish and defend a proper territory - only the immediate area around the nesting cavity is defended. The whole colony feeds communally in what is termed a home range.

To attract a mate, the male builds the base of the nest from dry grass and leaves in a hole and sings from perches close to the nest entrance. The female completes the nest by making a nest cup and lining it with fine grasses, moss and feathers.

Starling Sturnus vulgaris, adult male in hedge of Wild privet Ligustrum vulgare, Bedfordshire, England,

Breeding habits

Starlings usually lay 4-6 eggs in mid-April. All birds within a colony start to lay eggs within a few days. The female does the majority of the incubation - the chicks hatch 12 days later.

Most failures are caused by infertility, and at the chick stage by starvation. Normally, only one brood is raised in a year, but if the first clutch is laid early and is successful, a second clutch may follow.

Garden birds: Starling, Sturnus vulgaris, at bird feeders.

Starling young

Only the female broods the chicks, although both parents feed them. They are fed entirely on insects and their larvae, spiders and earthworms for 12 days, after which the diet is more varied. 

The young fledge when about three weeks old and are fed for a week or two until they are independent. Because the nests are in holes, they are protected from predators and many other dangers. As a result, more than 70 per cent of eggs laid produce fledged young.

 Starling, Sturnus vulgaris, perched on lichen covered branch in garden in Durham.