Vol 11, Issue 1, February 2024

Wild European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) Make and Use Woolen Tools


Haslam, M. (2024). Wild European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) make and use woolen tools. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 11(1), 79-86. https://doi.org/10.26451/abc.


This study reports the novel manufacture and use of tools by wild European or common starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in mainland Orkney, Scotland. On two occasions over a period of ten days, multiple starlings picked off and applied pieces of discarded sheep’s fleece to the area under their wings and tails, in a manner similar to widespread ‘anting’ behavior. The birds’ goal is unknown, but it is likely that they are using the woolen tools for feather maintenance or another form of self-care. These observations reflect a previously unreported form of tool use in European starlings, which was rapid, repeated, and performed by several members of a flock.


Common starling, Wool, Sheep, Self-care, Avian tool use