You Share Your Life with a Starling?
Many persons who rescue baby European
starlings that are in trouble have
little or no information about what
to expect when raising them. Many
people who would like to adopt a
rescued starling have no idea what
type of commitment such a bird is.
These people are unaware of the
commitment and time required, and
they do not know about the needs
of an adult starling.
you found a baby starling needing
help, and are you wondering if you
should raise and keep it? Are you
thinking of adopting a rescued starling?
Ultimately, only you can decide
whether or not raising a starling
or adopting one is right for you.
This webpage was created to help
give you info that could make your
decision easier. [NOTE: This webpage
is long, so feel free to skip to
the subheading(s) below that most
Note: If you raise a baby
starling, do not then assume
that you can release it after
you grow tired of it!
-- A baby starling
raised alone without being
placed with other baby birds
WILL "imprint" on
its human caretaker, and it
will do so while still a nestling
(within its second week of
does it mean to have a starling
who is "imprinted"
human imprinted starling does
not relate to other birds
as its own kind but views
you as its own kind
instead. Normally, wild baby
starlings imprint on their
parent birds and learn necessary
survival skills from them.
A starling imprinted on humans
lacks most survival skills,
has no fear of humans or predators,
and cannot find its own food.
It does not realize it is
a bird. You cannot simply
open the door and let a human
imprinted starling fly
free when you grow tired of
it. It will not join wild
flocks and may not survive.
Once you have raised a starling,
and it has imprinted on you,
you have made a long-term
commitment for a bird who
might possibly live up
to 20 years or longer.
the following info at the
Starling Talk website about
imprinting and tameness: "Starling
Talk Baby Starling Care: Imprinting"
Starling Personality at Different
Starlings -- Cute as buttons
Baby starlings are adorable creatures!
Starling nestlings are small and
cuddly. They do not mind being
held, stroked, and snuggled, and
they cannot run or fly away. Most
people who rescue them fall in
love with these helpless babies
that depend on them for everything.
But the fact is that starling
babies are only sweet and snuggly
for a short time. As with all
creatures, they grow up. Once
a baby starling fledges (becomes
fully feathered and begins flying)
at around three weeks old, its
personality begins to change.
Starlings -- Energetic, temperamental
Once they begin flying, many starling
fledglings want to be almost constantly
in motion. Flying has given them
a new sense of independence, and
as they continue to grow and hone
their flying skills they may become
harder to handle. They want to
fly as much as possible and often
balk at returning to their cages.
They may lunge and play-fight,
pecking and biting at their owners.
As they approach weaning age,
fledglings can become quite difficult
to handfeed. Their curiosity,
playfulness and energy is boundless,
and although they still want to
be with their owners, they are
no longer docile babies who want
to sit in laps and be cuddled.
If their owners do not continue
to handle them and interact with
them daily during this stage,
they may grow to dislike even
sitting on their owners later.
Starlings -- Social, vocal, curious,
incredibly intelligent and demanding
Adult starlings who are imprinted
on humans want to interact with their
owners as much as possible. Think
about it -- since your imprinted starling
views you as his own kind, he wants
to interact with YOU. These demanding
birds are very different from pet
parrots. Very few starlings will sit
still and allow themselves to be cuddled although
most do enjoy sitting on their
owners. To be well socialized, adult
starlings need plenty of time spent
with their humans regularly. Spending
time with humans and "playing" with
a variety of safe items provides these highly
intelligent birds with necessary mental
stimulation. Starlings are also trainable and can learn things very quickly if taught with patience and consistency. At any given time our
adult starlings seem "playful", inquisitive,
aggressive, attentive, temperamental,
or downright sweet, but one thing
is for sure -- they always want to
be with us.
-- Rescued starlings
are extremely intelligent and
thrive in a home where they
receive lots of attention and
care. Our starlings (whom we
often say are permanently stuck
in toddlerhood) are smart and
full of mischief, and their
antics keep us laughing. The
rest of our website discusses
all these wonderful aspects
of living with pet starlings.
we want to emphasize here that
having a starling in your home
is a HUGE responsibility!
If you are trying to decide
whether or not to raise a baby
starling and have no idea what
can be involved in being a starling
owner, we encourage you to read
the considerations below.
Life with a Starling -- Things
and keeping a European starling, or
adopting one, means making a commitment
for the lifetime of the bird. An imprinted
starling is not a disposable pet that
you can simply put outside if it becomes
an inconvenience! Can you handle sharing
your life with a starling for the
next 15 or 20 years, despite any lifestyle
changes you may make (such as college,
marriage, moving, having children,
Will you have time to spend
caring for and interacting with a
starling every day? If you work, are
you willing to spend some time with
your starling before and/or
after work? If you travel often,
can you make arrangements for a birdsitter?
These are important considerations.
Part of sharing your home with a starling
means that you need enough time every
day to provide the necessary things
your bird requires. These necessities
include fresh food daily and fresh
water daily, maintaining cage cleanliness
and spending time with your bird.
A starling should never be caged fulltime
simply because an owner's' daily schedule
is too busy for it. If your lifestyle
is too busy for you to provide all
minimum daily requirements
for a starling, then a starling is
not for you!
All pet birds are messy,
and starlings are no different. Their
large cages need regular cleaning
(we roll ours outside and wash them
monthly in a bleach/water solution;
we change cage paper daily, wash bowls
daily, scrape perches often, and wash
toys as needed.) Starlings may fling
food out of their cages onto walls
and other nearby objects. They splash
water out of their bowls. Droppings
are a huge complaint of new bird owners,
for starlings are not at all particular
about where they go to the bathroom.
In our home, we are accustomed to
dealing with droppings on clothing,
furniture, carpets, remote controls,
curtains, etc. While a starling's
messiness cannot be eliminated, it
can be minimized through frequent
vacuuming and cleaning. Does the thought
of a bird making a mess in your home
repulse you? If so, then think twice
before deciding to adopt or keep a
Most starlings are extremely
vocal. Our starlings whistle, chatter,
mimic household sounds, and talk loudly
all day every day. They compete with
our television when it is on, and
they can make it difficult for us
to talk on the phone in the same room
with them. We greatly enjoy our starlings'
constant vocalizations, however we
know people who do not. If you want
a quiet pet in your home, then we
suggest that you DO NOT take in a
rescued starling! Making sounds is
something birds naturally do.
There is no commercial
diet specifically for European starlings,
and birdseed, parrot food, or mynah
food is not appropriate for them.
Thus, feeding them requires more effort
than simply buying a bag of food and
putting some in a bowl daily. European
starlings require animal protein
in their main daily diet, and
some starlings also enjoy some fresh
veggies or fruits on occasion. A proper
diet takes time to prepare and must
be a priority every day. I prepare
my starlings' main diet mixture fresh
each morning. Read about a nutritional
starling diet at the Starling
Talk Diet page.
When they must be confined
for any length of time, starlings
need plenty of room in which to move
around and fly. This means that the
optimum cage would be a flight cage
or an aviary type cage. Flight cages
can be purchased from pet supply stores
or may be homemade with wood and hardware
cloth. A large cage takes up room,
and this may be an issue for people
living in small or crowded homes.
Nevertheless, do not buy a small canary
or budgie cage and think that this
is adequate for a starling! More info
about cages for starlings can be found
Toys -- Keeping pet starlings
supplied with safe playthings in their
cages and safe play areas in a home
makes them happier and stimulates
their clever minds. These birds can
get bored easily if given nothing
to pry or carry around
in their beaks. Playthings for starlings
need not be expensive, nor do they
necessarily need to be store-bought,
but they do need to be BIRDSAFE. See
page for a list of our own
starlings' safe toys.
Training -- Starlings are highly intelligent creatures that learn very well if their owners work with them consistently and patiently. They can learn "no", can learn to come when called, and can be taught other things. Some starling owners have used the clicker training method to train their birds. Doing an online search will yield a variety of discussions on training pet birds.
-- Flight exercises and strengthens
a bird's muscles, improves respiratory
function, strengthens the heart, keeps
the body in overall good shape (cuts
down on obesity), and helps a bird
feel less stressed. Our starlings
get regular free flight in a bird-safe
room inside our home. During free
flight, they are supervised at all
Pet starlings should NOT be allowed free flight
outdoors! -- Read our Wondrous
for our thoughts on flight outdoors and wing-clipping.
(other pets, parrots, children, household
Other Pets: cats, dogs, etc.
-- Do you have other pets such
as dogs or cats? If so, they will
need to be kept separate from your
starling when it is out of its cage,
unless you do not mind the risk of
it being unexpectedly grabbed or bitten
by a normally well-behaved companion
animal. This does
happen and has resulted in the death
of pet starlings! Even a simple puncture
wound from a cat often results in
the death of a beloved bird. Click
to read about injuries from cats and
Birds -- If you own exotic birds,
please be aware that a curious starling
can easily annoy a hookbill, who in
turn can harm the starling with its
strong beak. In most cases, be prepared
to spend time with a starling separately
from your exotic birds (unless you
are certain they get along
safely!) We have a number of hookbills
in our home, and we always spend time
with our starlings separately from
-- In our opinion, European starlings
do not make good pets for children.
Young children naturally want to hold
pet birds, and they may grab them
too tightly, unintentionally causing
injury. Another good reason not to
let a child play with a starling is
the fact that some starlings are fascinated
by eyes and will peck them, causing
injured corneas. If you have small
children, you must constantly
supervise them around a pet starling!
-- A great many items in a home are
dangerous to pet starlings. A few
dangers include air fresheners, cleaning
products, aerosol sprays, smoke, odorless
fumes from Teflon, insecticides, open
containers of water, ceiling fans,
uncovered mirrors or windows, etc.
for a longer, detailed list of household
danger to pet starlings.
are hardy birds. Yet, despite providing
the best care possible, a pet starling
may become ill or get injured. If
this happens, it is important to be
willing to spend money to take the
bird to a veterinarian (preferably
to an "avian" vet if one
is nearby). A sick bird can go downhill
very quickly. Over the counter medicines
purchased from pet stores can make
conditions worse rather than better.
Multiple Starlings in the Home
than one starling = more work and
more time required
is important to realize that having
more than one pet starling means extra
work and more responsibility. More
birds means more food to prepare,
more cages to clean, more messiness
to deal with, more noise in the home,
extra time set aside to interact with
additional birds, etc. Would you be
prepared to deal with all these things?
few more things to consider if you
are thinking of sharing your home
with more than one starling
you be able to deal with fighting birds,
and do you have room for several flight
cages, if necessary?
imprinted starlings may not get
along well with other starlings,
for they do not view birds as their
that were rescued as babies and
raised together as a group may or
may not get along together nicely
when they are older.
you already have an older pet starling,
there is no guarantee that it will
accept or get along with starlings
who are brought into his home later.
Some multiple starlings in a home
get along fine with only minor squabbles,
yet others fight so much that they
must be caged separately.
you are currently raising several
rescued baby starlings together, consider
the issues discussed on this webpage
before deciding that you have
several new pets. If you cannot
commit to sharing your home long-term
with several starlings, do NOT take
baby starlings in and raise them,
and do not adopt additional starlings.
an informed decision before
raising a baby starling!
The decision to raise
a baby starling is not something
that should be taken lightly.
Do not base your decision to
keep a starling on the idea
that it would be fun to have
a bird who can talk. Starlings
do have the ability to mimic,
but that does not mean
that ALL starlings will talk!
In fact a starling who is not
given lots of time interacting
with people may not mimic human
speech. We hope that by discussing
some of the issues involved
in keeping a starling, we have
provided info that may help
you make an informed decision.
. . . once you have handraised
a baby starling, you are committed
to keeping it as a pet unless
you can find someone willing
to adopt it and give it the
love and attention it needs!
you have found a baby starling
and cannot raise it and keep
it, try calling vets in
your area and asking for the
name of a wildlife rehabber
who rehabs starlings. (When
calling a rehabber, ASK if he
or she raises starlings for
release; many rehabbers euthanize
all starlings taken to them).
you cannot find a rehabber to
raise the starling, join the
Talk Message Board,
and post in the Adoption forum.
-- Many rescued starlings have
been placed in good homes via
Starlings and their Care:
Starling Talk website
Jackie Collins's Starling Talk website
to read about all aspects of European
starlings. Information found there
includes identifying a baby starling;
total care and feeding of a baby starling
(and info on imprinting); adult starling
diet; pet starlings; starling health
issues; info about starlings in the
wild; helpful links, photos, and more.
Click below to visit her website --
Talk -- The
most comprehensive information online
about European starlings