grackle vs starling

European Starlings and Common Grackles: Differences and Similarities

Landry Zoya 

European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) and Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) are two bird species that look quite similar, which can make identification a challenge for bird enthusiasts. Both species have iridescent plumage, and they can be seen flocking together in large groups, especially after the nesting season is over. In this article, we will explore the differences and similarities between these two species and provide interesting facts about them.

Differences between European Starlings and Common Grackles

The most obvious differences between European Starlings and Common Grackles are in their eye color, leg color, and bill color. Starlings have dark eyes, pinkish legs, and a short, slender yellow bill (in breeding birds), whereas the Common Grackle has dark legs, dark bill, and yellow eyes. Grackles are also generally larger than Starlings and have longer tails.

Another way to tell these species apart is their eating habits. Common Grackles are native to the United States and will eat just about anything, although they particularly love to eat crops, mainly corn. They have bright, golden eyes that give them an expression of intent. Grackles also tend to travel in large, noisy groups, and females are similar to males but less glossy.

On the other hand, European Starlings mainly eat insects and seeds, and they can quickly clean out feeders. Starlings also travel in groups, but they are generally quieter than the Grackle. Starlings are also not native to just the United States, and their population has spread widely across North America.

Common Grackles are members of the Troupials and Allies family, and European Starlings are part of the Starling family. When it comes down to length, Grackles can reach lengths of up to 20 inches, whereas Starlings generally only reach lengths of up to 12 inches. Grackles also have longer tails than Starlings. The tail of a Starling is usually shorter than their bodies with no patterns or visible markings. Grackle tails are sometimes as long as the bird is tall and show an orange patch during flight.

Similarities between European Starlings and Common Grackles

Both European Starlings and Common Grackles have iridescent plumage, which makes them shimmer in the sunlight. Starlings look more similar to the Grackle in their winter plumage, which they have black beaks, and their plumage becomes more spotted and less vibrant. The beaks are similar in length and shape, but Starlings tend to have slightly longer and thinner bills.

Both species tend to flock in large groups, especially after nesting season is over, which can make identification much more confusing. They are also intelligent birds with fascinating behaviors.

grackle vs starling 2

Interesting facts about Common Grackles

The Common Grackle is part of the Troupials and Allies family (Icteridae), which has 105 species of birds in it. These birds have sharp-tipped bills that they can open strongly, giving them the ability to stab and pry off the bark of trees or to open up soft fruit. Male and female Grackles can generally be distinguished by the size of their bodies because they possess sexual dimorphism. When humans are close to their nests, Grackles use alarm calls to alert other birds of the threat. Just like crows and ravens, Grackles have the ability to recognize and remember individual faces of human beings. They can also mimic the sounds of other species of birds and occasionally even humans. Unlike other birds that hop while on the ground, Grackles prefer to walk. You’re much more likely to see a female Common Grackle than a male because the Grackle population is much more abundant with females, as their life expectancy is greater than the male since they require less food.

Interesting facts about European Starlings

It is thought that around 100 Starlings were released into Central Park, New York City, in 1890 and 1891. The success of the European Starling is remarkable, as there are now over 200 million of these birds across North America, and the population has spread across the majority of the continent, derived from those few birds. Worldwide, there are 123 species in the Starling family (Sturnidae), and a tremendous variety can be found across Asia and Africa. The most common bird in this family is the European Starling.

European Starlings can inhabit a vast variety of habitats if a few crucial needs are met. Mostly, you’ll see Starlings foraging on short lawns and fields in urban areas. During non-breeding, Starlings explore different habitats like salt marshes, orchards, refuse dumps, moorland, and tidal flats. Starlings will roost in trees, reed beds, and even buildings in town centers. In Europe, winter roosts can reach over one million birds. In Israel, there was a reported 5 to 8 million birds in a single roost!

Starlings have strong jaw muscles, which they use to pierce their beaks into the soil for insects. They will occasionally also catch flies in the air. Starlings have the tendency to destroy other birds’ nests from time to time, causing concern for bird authorities worldwide, as it can cause a decline in native birds.


In conclusion, European Starlings and Common Grackles have a lot in common, including their iridescent plumage and tendency to flock in large groups. However, the differences between them can be noticeable when you know what to look for. From their eye color, leg color, and bill color to their eating habits and family classification, these two bird species have unique characteristics that make them fascinating to observe. Both the Common Grackle and European Starling have interesting facts that reveal their intelligence, adaptability, and distinct behaviors. Whether you are a bird enthusiast or just curious about these creatures, knowing more about them can deepen your appreciation for the natural world around you.

Recommended Posts

reasons not to get dental implants

The Top Reasons You Should NOT Get Dental Implants

Dental implants are a popular solution for replacing missing teeth, but they may not be the right option for everyone. In this article, we will explore the top reasons why dental implants might not be suitable for certain individuals. It’s essential to be well-informed before making any decisions about your dental health. Dr. Brett Langston, […]

Landry Zoya 
andy hildebrand

Andy Hildebrand’s Net Worth and More

In this article, we will explore the fascinating life and achievements of Harold Andy Hildebrand, renowned for his contributions as a software engineer, inventor of Auto-Tune, web developer, and successful entrepreneur. Join us as we delve into his background, education, professional career, family life, and, of course, his impressive net worth. So, let’s get started! […]

Landry Zoya