Starlings: Summer is Breeding Season!

red-winged-starling

Starlings – (Onychognathus Morio)

Notorious for their damaging, unsightly droppings and lice contamination, Starlings are exceptionally noisy birds, especially when returning to roost in large numbers at dusk. Although Starlings are not present in the Karoo or Kalahari regions, they occur throughout most of South Africa, as well as within some African countries.

The primary species variants in South Africa are the Indian Mynah, present in the KZN region, and the Red Winged Starling predominant in the Cape. Both of these Birds are similar in their characters, in that they are exceptionally aggressive, thinking nothing of attacking humans when we try to “invade” their space. Whilst there are other types of Starling that visit the Cape, most of them are migratory and therefore tend only to spend time in trees whilst on their way to some other destination. However, the Red Winged Starling is here to stay!

Not native to our shores, they have adapted well to the urban environment. During the Winter months, they congregate in large numbers wherever there is a roosting opportunity. It is during this time that large flocks of up to 500 Starlings will inhabit buildings to roost, resulting in a great deal of damage and noise, and causing immense discomfort to the people living / working in these buildings.

The warm Summer months serve as breeding season for Starlings, with pairs building nests to rear their young from as early as September. It is at this time that these Starlings seek out ideal shelter to build these nests, often entering either the roof space or other sheltered area of both residential or commercial buildings to set up home. Once they have made a home for themselves, they prefer to return to the same nesting area each breeding season, which is why we find that the problem escalates over the years.

starling-nest

During the breeding season, female Starlings lay eggs anytime from September to March, and often produce up to two broods within one breeding season. After the eggs have hatched, the chicks will remain in the nest for approximately 3 – 4 weeks before they leave the nest.

Starling infestation and contamination, whether it be through nesting in the Summer or roosting a large numbers in the Winter, brings with it a multitude of problems. If you have them in your roof, you may expect a lot of noise, disease ridden droppings, and most distressingly, lice. Many Birds carry lice, but in our experience, the Starling is the greatest culprit.

Most often Starlings will leave a lice load behind in the nest after nesting, and often the lice are happy to remain in the nest until the Starlings return. However, certain stimuli, such as very warm weather, may cause the lice present in the nest to awake and leave in search of food. When the preferred diet of a Starling’s blood is no longer available to them, human blood becomes the next best option. Once bitten, the human victim will experience the presence of itchy bites and could develop quite serious allergic reactions.

If the correct protective measures are put in place during the construction of a building, and there is no entry to the roof, the problem does not arise. Buildings incorporating the Tuscan Style clay tiles, for instance, which provide ample space for entry, are a Starling favourite. That said, Starlings can squeeze through impossibly tiny gaps, so one needs to be vigilant in making sure that none exist.

starling

Having been in the business of Bird Proofing for over 16 Years now, we have dealt with probably every conceivable scenario, not just in the realm of Starling infestation, but pest bird infestation on the whole. We have seen, first hand, the damage Starlings are capable of causing, and are experts in ensuring that there are no possible points of entry to your home or building, through which these Starlings may be able to enter for nesting purposes.

If you are experiencing a problem with Starlings, or any other pest bird, please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance.