The common grackles and starlings are known to travel in large groups and are always so noisy. The common grackle is from the crow family that lives in North America, while the common starling is a native of Asia and Europe.
It was introduced in America. The two breeds are so popular in the American lands. At a glance, you will notice that the birds look incredibly similar.
The remarkable similarity makes the identification of a particular breed quite hard. It leaves people wondering whether the birds are the same or different.
In this article, we have highlighted all the characteristics of the two birds that will help you differentiate them.
Grackle vs. Starling
There are a few noticeable and apparent differences between the grackle and starling. The common grackle has yellow eyes, dark bills, and legs.
Generally, the grackles have longer tails and are larger than common starlings. The common starling has dark eyes, a slender, short yellow bill, and pinkish legs.
You can easily spot these differences when you make a keen observation of the two birds.
I’m sure you have seen a grackle and know what it looks like. This information intends to equip you with extra knowledge about the grackle bird.
An adult common grackle length is 28 to 34cm. Then across the wings, it’s 36 to 46 cm. The average weight of an adult grackle is between 74 to 142g.
The differences between the male and female grackles are easy to notice. The male is larger than the female and averagely weighs 122g, while the female averagely weighs 94g.
The adult males have pale yellowish eyes, a long dark bill, plus a long tail. The feathers of the male grackle appear black but have some green and purple.
The sheen in the body plumage is bronze, while the head is bluish iridescence. In addition to their small bodies, adult females are less iridescent. Plus, the tails are shorter and do not keel.
The feathers of the female grackle appear brown and do not have a blue or purple gloss.
The juvenile appearance is brown, and they also have dark brown eyes. A group of grackles is known as a plaque.
The common starling adult length is between 19 to 23cm, and its wingspan is 31to 44cm. The average weight of an adult common starling is 58 to 101g.
The starling plumage is purple/green, iridescent black, with some white. Mostly they look like this during the winter season.
Like the grackle, it’s easy to note the difference between the two starling sexes. The male starlings have loose and long throat feathers, and they use them in the display.
The legs are greyish-red/pinkish and are stout. The bill is yellow with some blue-grey, has a sharp tip plus is conical and narrow.
The female starling throat feather is more pointed and smaller than males. Their beaks are lemon yellow.
The feathers of the juvenile starlings are grey-brown. During their first winter, they do resemble adults.
The common grackle song is quite harsh. You get to hear it better when they are calling in a flock. The songs do vary year in year out.
It’s always simple, then gets complex during the breeding season. During the breeding season, the song is faster and very loud.
The grackle is known to mimic the sounds of humans and other birds. It’s not as accurate as of the mockingbird.
The common starling is known to be so noisy. The sound of the starling bird is both mechanical and melodic.
The male is always the leader. It starts the singing, which lasts for a minute or more. The starlings have four song varieties, and they do follow each in regular order.
There’s no pause between the songs. The starling also mimics humans, other birds, and naturally occurring noises. It does this with great simplicity.
Distribution and Habitat
The grackles are mainly found across North America. This is the east of the Rocky Mountains. Grackles mostly build their nests in shrubs or dense trees such as pine.
They like areas that are near water. At times they can nest in artificial structures and even cavities.
The birds love staying close together. You can also witness the northern birds migrating in their flock to the southeastern parts of the United States.
The population of the common starling is more than 310 million globally. The birds mostly occupy the northern hemisphere.
It’s native to Eurasia, and you can find it throughout Northern Africa, Europe, Middle East, north-western China, and India. Those in the west and south Europe are permanent residents.
However, others do migrate from regions with harsh winters and scarcity of food. The common starlings prefer nesting in suburban and urban areas.
They rely on trees and artificial structures for roosting and nesting sites. Occasionally, you can come across them in woodlands and open forests located in shrubby areas, like Australian heathland.
You cannot find the common starling in dense, wet forests, but they are common in the coastal regions. The starlings can adapt to various habitats. You can therefore find them in multiple parts of the world.
The common grackle looks for food in shallow water, ground, and shrubs. It also has the tendency of stealing food from other birds.
On stealing, they technically grab and snatch food out of another bird’s beak. The grackle is omnivorous. It feeds on mice, small birds, frogs, eggs, grains, insects, and many more.
The grackles find eating from the ground (using bird feeders) to be so appealing. In case you want to feed them, then seed scattering on the ground will work perfectly.
If you are keen, you have seen the grackles foraging on insects after lawn trimming. They do love this.
The common grackles have solid beaks and great muscles within their jaws to break kernels or hard nuts.
The common starling primarily feeds on insects. That’s pests and other types of arthropods, and this might include moths, damsels, crane flies, grasshoppers, beetles, earwigs, ants, and many more.
They feed on all insects. They eat the insects at both larvae and adult stages. At times they might also feed on lizards, small amphibians, and snails.
The feeding of insects is very beneficial to the starling. It guarantees successful breeding. Again the common starlings feed on nectar, fruits, grain, seed, and many more. They are omnivores.
During the breeding season, the males do change their behavior. They fluff up the feathers and tip the head backward. It’s a display that informs and helps to keep other males away.
Grackle also uses this posture for the defense to intimidate its predators. The common male grackles are always less aggressive, and they tend to be more social and cooperative.
But the other male species, which are larger and boat-tailed, are not as social to each other. The grackles lay four to seven eggs in a clutch.
The starlings do breed during both summer and spring. After copulation, the females continuously lay eggs during the period.
If an egg is lost, the female will lay another egg to replace it. The female lays around four to five eggs and white or sometimes pale blue.
The incubation period is thirteen days. Both the male and female do incubate the eggs, but the female spends much time on the eggs.
The baby starlings are always born naked and blind. But within seven days, they start to develop light, fluffy feathers.
The Similarity Between The Grackle And Starling
Despite the few differences, the grackles do have some similarities. It’s the similarities that confuse people when it comes to the grackle and starling.
The most common similarity is the plumage, which is iridescent on both birds. You might confuse the starling and the grackle during the winter plumage of starling.
During this time, the starlings do have black beaks. The plumage becomes less vibrant and is more spotted.
Plus, the shape and length of the nibs are also quite similar. Another similarity is that the two birds love to flock together.
Are Grackle And Starling Same
Many people think that the grackle and starling are the same or related in some way. But that’s not the case; there’s a significant difference between the two birds.
If you are keen, you will notice the difference in appearance and behavior. In addition, the birds are from very different species. The grackles are under the allies’ family, while the starlings belong to the starling.
The grackle and the starling are two popular birds. They have some similarities that leave many wondering whether they are the same or have some relations.
The starlings, unlike the grackles, are not natives of America. The birds share some physical similarities but have a massive difference in other things like habitat, feeding, vocals, and many more.
In this article, we have listed the difference in detail. I’m confident the information will help you understand the two bird breeds better.