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How Long Do Starlings Live? Reasons, Life stages & FAQs

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Greater Blue-Eared Starling Looking

Starlings are of European origin, but they have become one of the most common bird species in the US and Canada since their introduction in the late 19th Century when just 100 of the birds were brought over from the UK. In some areas, they are considered a pest, because they compete with native species, and they are rarely kept as pets.

Although never sold in pet shops, adopted starlings can make surprisingly good avian pets that bond with their human owners and enjoy spending time with them. They are considered intelligent birds and, as well as having their own selection of songs and calls, they can mimic those of other birds and even some other animals. These medium-sized songbirds can live as long as 15–20 years.

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What’s the Average Lifespan of a Starling?

Whether in the wild or in captivity, this medium-sized songbird can live as long as 15–20 years. If you do adopt an injured or struggling Starling, you need to be aware that you won’t be able to just release it back into the wild, which means that its long lifespan requires a major commitment on your part. 

Greater Blue Eared Starling
Image Credit: Daniel Danckwerts, Shutterstock

The 5 Reasons Why Some Starlings Live Longer Than Others

There are lots of reasons why some Starlings live longer than others including their environment and living conditions, nutrition, and simple genetics: some Starlings will live longer than others regardless of their care or living conditions.

1. Environment and Conditions

Birds that live in the wild are more likely to die younger because of predators and harder living conditions. Most predators of Starlings are avians, and the songbird is commonly hunted and killed by birds of prey, including hawks and eagles. Because the birds are considered a pest, wild Starlings may also be killed by farmers and other people.

european starling perched on a bench
Image Credit: GAIMARD, Pixabay

2. Nutrition

Starlings are virtually omnivorous. They will feed on insects and will also eat seeds and some berries: whatever they can find in their local habitat. Birds with a better diet and that have regular and consistent access to food will usually live longer in the wild. If you are keeping a Starling as a pet, you will need to try and mimic their natural diet by offering insect-based protein as well as seeds and berries.

3. Genes

As is true with any species of animal, some Starlings will naturally live longer than others. As such, some can live as long as 20 years, but others might only live 10 years.

starling bird perching
Image Credit: Kev, Pixabay

4. Healthcare

Starlings are also known to carry a host of diseases. Even where diseases do not directly kill the bird, illness can cause them to lose mobility so that they are easier prey for birds, mammals, and other predators. These same illnesses may also prevent the bird from being able to source its own food. Other common causes of death in Starlings include mass drowning and accidents during murmurations.

5. History

When adopting any animal, it is difficult to get a clear understanding of its history, but this is especially true when adopting wild animals and wild birds. If you have adopted one, the bird may have suffered some illness or other condition that meant it was unable to fend for itself in the first place.

black winged starling
Image Credit: Eko Budi Utomo, Shutterstock

eagle divider The 5 Life Stages of a Starling

With a lifespan of up to 20 years, you will see considerable changes to a Starling throughout its life. The main life stages of this species of bird are:

1. Egg

Starlings lay their eggs approximately every day and at around the same time every day, with a total of four or five blue eggs laid. Incubation of the eggs starts once all have been laid, ensuring that they will hatch at approximately the same time. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs, which they will do for up to 2 weeks.

starling eggs in a nest
Image Credit: Swee Ming, Shutterstock

2. Hatchlings

After approximately 12 days, the eggs will hatch. Hatchlings are born with their eyes closed and are completely dependent on Mom for food and heat.

3. Imprinting

If you are rearing Starlings from a hatchling, know that they start the imprinting process when they open their eyes at about 12 days old, although this can occur after just 7 days or may take as long as two weeks. At this point, the birds will need feeding every half an hour for 12 hours a day. Once feathers start to form, feeding is reduced to once every 45 minutes, and once the chick reaches about 3 weeks of age, it will start to.

4. Juveniles

At around 3 weeks of age, and as the bird starts to explore its local area, it will also take its first few tentative moves towards flying. If you bonded during the imprinting stage, the bird will likely fly to you at this point. At week four, you can start to feed from a bowl but still out of your hand and provide a bowl of drinking water. At around 6 or 7 weeks, the bird should be encouraged to feed independently. It will continue to come to you for food, but you should avoid hand feeding and encourage bowl feeding.

starling perched under the rain
Image Credit: TheOtherKev, Pixabay

5. Adult

By around 10 weeks, your Starling will have grown its new feathers and should start eating an adult diet. By 15 weeks, it will start talking and you may find that they attempt to mimic some noises that they hear around the house. At 20 weeks, your baby bird will have its adult feathers and may be considered a young adult.

eagle divider Final Thoughts

Starlings are one of the most common birds in the US despite not being native and only 100 of the birds being introduced in 1890. There are now more than 200 million of them across the country and, while they are not sold in pet shops, they make surprisingly intelligent and loyal pets when they are adopted by human owners. Starlings can live up to 20 years, although this does depend on several factors, including genetics and also the likelihood of predation.

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Featured Image Credit: AndreDD, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.