U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Proceedings of the 14th WDM Conference (2012): 124-128.


European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) are agricultural and societal pests in the U.S., thus, understanding their migratory behavior is of practical importance to resource managers. We leg-banded starlings and used publicly reported encounters with them to estimate migration distances traveled by wintering populations to reach their reproductive territories. We captured and banded 9,939 starlings at 6 sites between November and February 2005–2010 in 3 states. We banded birds in industrial areas surrounding Omaha, Nebraska, and at cattle feedlots in central Kansas (n = 2) and the Texas Panhandle (n = 3). Banding sites were associated with wintering aggregations that caused agricultural or urban conflicts. Thirty band encounters (0.3%) occurred between April–August, which we defined as the reproductive period. The median number of days between date of banding and date of encounter was 170 (n = 28, Range: 66–862; Q3–Q1 = 361). We categorized encounters as either regional (≥80 km) or local (<80 >km). Median distance of regional encounters was 421 km (n = 16, Range: 125–1,384; Q3–Q1 = 456); median distance of local encounters was 24 km (n = 14, Range: 12–75, Q3–Q1 = 5). The regional encounters occurred on a median bearing from the banding sites +12° from true north (n = 16, Range: -18–67; Q3–Q1 = 26). Starlings are renowned and persistent pests, and the birds from our study areas probably contributed to agricultural and urban conflicts in several states.