Grackle vs Starling: What Is The Difference?

Grackles and starlings travel in large noisy groups and can be easily spotted in American lands. With a great similarity between these two birds, you may often wonder if these birds are the same or different. If different, how to differentiate between them?

The grackle and the starling may not be similar in appearance, but they do have some similarities. The grackle is a bird of the crow family that lives in North America. On the other hand, the starling is a small passerine bird native to Europe and Asia that’s also been introduced into North America, Australia, and New Zealand. They are very territorial birds who will defend their nests fiercely against other species of birds as well as humans!

So here is a quick guide to answer all your questions about the similarities, differences, and facts about grackle vs starling.

Differences grackle and European starling:

Differences between the common grackle and the European starling

The main difference between common grackles and European starlings is the color of their beak, legs, and eyes. Grackles have a black beak whereas starlings have a yellow beak. Grackles have yellow eyes and dark legs. On the other hand, starlings have pink legs and dark eyes.

Another noticeable difference between common grackles and European starlings is that grackles have longer tails as compared to starlings. Some other differences between the two birds are listed below.

GrackleStarling
Grackles can eat everything, corn crops being their favorite while starlings eat only insects and seeds.Starlings are not native to the American states whereas grackles are native American birds.
Grackles tend to travel in large noisy groups whereas starlings travel in silent or low noise groups.Starlings have long beaks and short tails while grackles have short beaks and longer tails.
Grackles have glossy black feathers on the head with a purple sheen.Starlings have shiny brown upper parts with buff or pinkish underparts.
Grackles can reach up to 20 inches long from top beak tip.European starlings only grow about 12 inches in length.
Grackles have a black “mask” on their face.Starlings’ faces are mostly brown.
A grackle’s tail can be about as long as the bird is tall and it has an orange patch in flight.Starling tails are usually shorter than the body with no visible markings or patterns.
Grackles live only in North America that feeds primarily on grain products including corn kernels but also fruits like cherries and acorns when available.Starlings generally live year-round in European climates where they feed mainly on fruit (mostly berries), insects, seeds, and some plants.

Similarities between the grackle and the starling

The grackles and starlings have similar-looking shimmering plumage. The similarity becomes more noticeable during winters when the plumage of both grackles and starlings become all the more spotted and much less vibrant.

Both of them travel in large groups and once the nesting season completes, they travel together in one group.

Grackle, a great bird

Are grackles and starlings the same bird?

No, grackles and starlings are not the same bird. There is a great deal of difference between grackles and starlings in terms of their appearance, and behavior. They are different species of birds with grackles belonging to the Troupials and Allies family and European starlings belonging to the Starlings family.

Interesting facts about the Starling

Occurring naturally in the Old World, starlings have some very interesting facts about them. Some of them are given below.

  1. The average lifetime of starlings may vary from two to twelve years, depending upon the species.
  2. There are over 114 species of starlings that occur naturally in the world. Common starling is the best species.
  3. Starlings do not have very specific habitat conditions. Except for dry deserts, these birds can be found anywhere from the Arctic Circle to the equator.
  4. Their strong adaptive skills are known to arise from the fact that they have strong jaw muscles. So they can poke their beaks deep into the soil and open the beak to prey on insects.
  5. They disrupt the nests of other species of birds and raise concern over protecting the native birds from getting affected.

Read here about the Starling symbolism.

Starling Bird Sounds

Interesting facts about the Grackle

Grackles have some unique features that help them survive. Here are some interesting facts about grackles that you probably didn’t know.

  1. Grackles can recognize individual human beings just like crows and ravens, parts of the Corvidae family. They can mimic various sounds of birds and even human beings.
  2. Unlike other birds, grackles use alarm calls to convey human presence around their nests or themselves.
  3. Grackles possess sexual dimorphism. The male and female grackles can be distinguished by looking at the size of their bodies. The female grackles are smaller than the male grackles.
  4. The population of female grackles is considerably more than that of male grackles. It is because the female grackles have a better shot at life due to their smaller need for food.
  5. When grackles are on the ground, they walk instead of hopping.

Common Grackle Bird Sounds

Conclusion

While the two birds, grackles and starlings, may look similar to each other, they are two different species of the Aves group in the hierarchy of living organisms. The grackles have slender and longer tails than starlings. They have yellow eyes and a black beak whereas starlings have yellow beaks and dark eyes. They both travel in large flocks. However, the grackles are noisier than starlings. The population of starlings is a great concern for the American authorities as they destroy the nests of other birds, causing a decline in the population of native American birds. Grackles have a unique way of creating alarm calls to signal the presence of other birds or human beings around their nests.

We also compared the Grackle to the blackbird in another post: Grackle vs Blackbird – What Are the Differences?

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