English house sparrows (Passer domesticus) vs European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)

Discussion in 'Caged Birds - Finches, Canaries, Cockatiels, Parro' started by StellaMarie, Nov 18, 2016.

  1. StellaMarie

    StellaMarie New Egg

    Nov 18, 2016
    For the past three years my niece has volunteered at a wildlife rescue center. They get both of these birds (sparrows and starlings) and they euthanize almost 100% them because they're invasive to Canada and the US. After they are euthanized they are used as food for the owls, I understand.

    However, the director and I recently ran into each other and he said that on occasion they will adopt them out to people in pet-only homes because this is legal. I asked him what the primary differences were in pet quality and he said he did not really have an opinion because to him they are "food animals."

    I had a cockatiel for 9 years so I am not entirely unfamiliar with birds. In the spring if people start bringing in fledgling sparrows and starlings I might see if I can adopt one. But I know next-to-nothing about what each bird is like as a pet. I have called around and actually found two veterinarians who would treat them, which surprised me to be honest.

    I am wondering if anybody here has kept both and can compare them as pets (not as wild birds or as pests).

    Any feedback? Thank you.
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich True BYC Addict

    Apr 6, 2014
    Melrose Park Illinois
    I had no Idea that these will survive in captivity. To me a bird is equal to any other bird. I don't treat sparrows or starlings any different at my feeder than cardinals or finches. Its just me and my attitude.
  3. jak2002003

    jak2002003 Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 24, 2009
    Taking a wild bird from its habitat and keeping it in a cage seems inhumane to most people. Even a injured adult bird that has recovered will be very frightened and stressed to be kept in a captive environment and its kinder to put it to sleep.

    However, if its a young orphaned bird that can not be released then the situation is different.

    For a sparrows or starlings you will need a large flight cage or aviary. As they are not domesticated birds they are very active and need a lot of space to stay healthy and active.

    Keeping a single bird of either species is cruel. They are flock birds and need at least one other bird of the same species to have a happy life.

    Sparrows can be fed a general finch seed mix, together with some softbill food, greens hard boiled egg and insects. Starlings need an insectivorous bird diet and live foot to stay healthy and happy.

    They wont be cuddly tame like parrots or other hand reared domesticated birds, but they should get tame enough to take food from your hand. However, the sparrows often revert to a very timid and flighty nature once sexually mature.

    Starlings will learn to imitate sounds, like the phone or door bell, and also can learn to speak very well.

    Starlings are very messy and you will need to clean the cage daily. They throw their food about and have a lot of watery poop which they will spread over everything!!! They also love a good bath and will spray water all over the place.

    The sparrows can have an annoying loud chirping sound.. which they will do for hours at a time.. very very loud.

    Myself personally would not keep either species as a pet. Its much more rewarding and you will have better bonding relationship with birds such as parakeets, lovebirds or parrots. They interact much better with us humans.

    I speak from experience as I hand raise and rescue a lot of wild birds.. and also have worked in a zoo and pet shop for many years.
    1 person likes this.
  4. StellaMarie

    StellaMarie New Egg

    Nov 18, 2016
    Thank you both. Sorry, have been away for the holidays.

    Remember that taking a bird from the wild can be cruel, but is not always. That's how every species of domestic bird (and many first-generation pet parrots) came to be.

    With sparrows and starlings, they are taken from the wild and killed due to their invasive status, according to the director of the rescue.
  5. stephcraig78

    stephcraig78 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 18, 2016
    Rolla/St. James, MO
    I would like to add a bit about this topic. My husband and I saved a house sparrow fledgling at start of summer. She is now an adult and is a very happy and healthy bird. She eats finch seed, fruits, vegetables and various other foods that we have found she likes. She lives in a medium to large bird cage made for typical pet birds. We open the door to it and let her fly around the house during the day. She then returns to the cage to sleep. She talks to the "wild" birds outside all the time. She rides around on our shoulders and cuddles up to us all the time. She lets us pet her most of the time but does take moods where she doesn't like us to try to touch her. She can sit on us and touch us but not us initiating it. She does chirp and sing but not for long periods. And will quiet down instantly if we whistle back to her. I just wanted you to know that it is VERY possible to keep a sparrow in your home and with normal bird care equipment with excellent and fulfilling results. If you have any other questions I'd be glad to let you know about our experience with "Flutter" our house sparrow.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Zoomie

    Zoomie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 6, 2015
    Mora, NM USA
    House sparrows would eat and behave like finches. Starlings eat and behave like corvids (crow family). So, starlings are messier, but also more intelligent. In England they are called the "poor man's dog". I will point out that they are native to England.

    I'm afraid I don't think either species should be in the US, but if you are going to keep one as a pet, and don't mind the mess and the smell, the starling is a good candidate. If you DO mind the mess and the smell, then I guess the sparrow would work out for you.

    Personally I would suggest maybe a canary. Or a pair of zebra finches, or society finches. Those are domesticated birds and are more comfortable in a cage. Canaries are territorial and best kept alone in a cage and of course some of them have a terrific beautiful song.

    When I was a child I had a Christmas wish for wild animals - I told my parents, I would like a deer, a fox, or an eagle. LOL. Since that time I've learned that domesticated animals make way better pets. If you want an actual pet, that feels comfortable in a cage with humans, I think a domesticated bird is a better choice. But of course that is up to you. Good luck with whatever you decide.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by