Starling

Starling

Key facts

Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris

Status: Resident breeding species and winter visitor

Breeding birds: 1.8 million

Conservation status: Red

Length: 21 cm

Wingspan: 37 – 42 cm

Weight: 75 – 90 g

Description

In breeding plumage starlings have iridescent black and glossy purple and green feathers. They have short, square tails and pointed wings which are dark. Their bills are yellow with a blue base in males and a pink base in females. They have dark brown eyes and reddish-brown legs and feet.

Out of breeding season, starlings have white-tipped feathers and speckles. Their bills are dark grey or black.

Male and female starlings look similar, but females are more heavily spotted, with shorter throat feathers and lighter eyes.

Juvenile starlings are dull grey with darker grey patches.

Nesting

Starlings nest in cavities or nest boxes. Their nests are made from sticks, dried grass, plant matter, paper, and feathers.

Starlings lay 4-6 glossy pale blue or white eggs which are incubated mostly by the female at night for 12-14 days. Both parents feed the chicks which fledge at 12-22 days. The parents feed them for a few more days.

Starlings may produce 2-3 clutches a season.

Feeding

Starlings eat seeds, insects, spiders, worms, and fruit. Starlings that live on the coast will also eat crustaceans and molluscs.

Starling

Where to see them

Starlings can be seen all over the UK except in the very highest parts of Scotland. They are most abundant in southern England and in winter will gather in huge roosts.

Listen

Andrew Harrop/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Starlings form large flocks called murmurations to ward of predators and perhaps to keep warm at night and exchange information. 

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