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  • Strategy

Nests are parasite-free: starling


Starling Nest / Mike R / LicenseGFDL - Gnu Free Document License

Starlings protect their chicks from parasitic insects by lining their nests with certain herbs.

"Similarly, in 2000 Dr. Helga Gwinner and a team of researchers from the Ornithological Unit of Germany's Max Planck Society revealed that starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) lined their nests with herbs that ward off or kill nest parasites, such as fleas, lice, and mites. Experiments in which some nestlings were reared in nests lacking these herbs (and in which parasites therefore thrived) showed that these nestlings were anemic; nestlings reared in herb-lined nests were heavier and had stronger immune systems, as confirmed by the presence of greater quantities of infection-fighting cells in their blood." (Shuker 2001:218)
About the inspiring organism
Med_starlingsturnus_vulgaris European Starling
Sturnus vulgaris Linnaeus, 1758
Common name: Common Starling

Habitat(s): Artificial - Aquatic, Artificial - Terrestrial, Forest, Grassland, Marine Intertidal, Shrubland
Learn more at
Some organism data provided by: ITIS: The Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Threat Categories LONG_LC IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Biological pest control products, architectural designs that deter insects.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Pest control, agriculture, architecture

Shuker, KPN. 2001. The Hidden Powers of Animals: Uncovering the Secrets of Nature. London: Marshall Editions Ltd. 240 p.
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