Settlement of breeding European Starlings in urban areas: Importance of lawns vs. anthropogenic wastes

  • Gwénaëlle Mennechez
  • Philippe Clergeau


We examined shifts in the feeding habits of European Starlings along an urban-rural gradient in northwestern France by comparing the diet of nestlings in three habitats: urban, suburban and rural areas. We sampled 99 broods using the neck-collar method. Broods were adjusted to four nestlings each to exclude brood size effects on diet. We have previously shown that parents foraged within 800 m from the nest in each habitat. In all three habitats, most food items brought to nestlings were invertebrates living on and in the ground or on low vegetation. However, diet composition changed along the urbanization gradient: (1) During first nest attempts nestlings reared in the urban area received less Lepidoptera and more Coleoptera than those located in the rural area; (2) Urban and suburban nestlings received less animal food than rural nestlings and more plant food and human refuse; (3) Diet varied with nest attempt and with nestling age. We conclude that, in towns, European Starlings feeding nestlings depend heavily on grasslands despite their ability to use human refuse. We suggest that recent urban planning in France, which encourages lawn plantings, may, in part, explain the increase of urban starling populations.

Key words

Diet European Starling France nestling Sturnus vulgaris urban ecology 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gwénaëlle Mennechez
    • 1
  • Philippe Clergeau
    • 2
  1. 1.UMR CNRS 6553 « Ecobio »CNRS-Université Rennes1Rennes cedexFrance
  2. 2.INRA Faune sauvage & UMR CNRS 6553 « Ecobio »Rennes cedexFrance

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