Grackles vs. European Starlings- What the difference?

People have asked how can you tell the difference between the Common Grackles and the European Starlings?  Let’s see if this helps…..

♦The top photo is  a Common Grackle. He has a tapered bill, long legs and long tail feathers. With a glossy – iridescent body, they walk around or gather in trees in noisy groups. Bright golden eyes give the Grackle an intent expression. They eat crops ( mainly corn) but they will eat about anything.

♦The second and third photos are of the  European Starlings. They, unlike the Grackles, are not native to the US. It is said that Eugene Schieffelin wanted to show the people of the US each kind of bird that was in William Shakespeare’s plays…So… in the late 1800’s He released 60 -100 European Starlings in Central Park ( a fairly new park at that time) in NYC. (Thirteen years earlier he had released the House Sparrows- oh joy!) He tried to introduce other species of birds without success. The North American population of the European Starlings is believed to exceed 200 million.

♦The second photo shows the Starling in its spring plumage. Note the shiny feathers and the yellow beak. The third photo is the starling in the winter. The feathers are more spotted and glossy, and his beak is a black color. They have short stubby tail feathers and their bills are long, thin,  and pointed. They will eat anything from insects to seed. And as you may know, they can clean out feeders quite quickly! Argh!



To learn about how to slow them down or stop them from eating all that quality seed you use….check tomorrow’s blog on solutions to this  very real problem! And there are solutions!

Hope this information helps you to identify and tell these birds apart. Happy birding!

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3 Responses to Grackles vs. European Starlings- What the difference?

  1. david says:

    just sighted European starling in winter plumage in Aurelia, iowa perusing one of our squirrel houses. 01 oct 13

  2. Ramona says:

    Wow – I’ve had the names backward for my whole life! Thanks. p.s. The grackles ARE in the process of cleaning out my bird feeder right now. Must be 4 dozen of them out there. – from northern NJ

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