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GALLERIES > BIRDS > PASSERIFORMES > STURNIDAE > EUROPEAN STARLING [Sturnus vulgaris]


European Starling Picture @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Ballona Freshwater Marsh, CA
GPS: 34.0N, -118.4W, elev=5' MAP
Date: March 5, 2008
ID : 5334 [3888 x 2592]

European Starling Picture @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Ballona Freshwater Marsh, CA
GPS: 34.0N, -118.4W, elev=5' MAP
Date: March 5, 2008
ID : 5335 [3888 x 2592]

nature photography

European Starling Image @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Los Angeles, CA
GPS: 34.1N, -118.2W, elev=281' MAP
Date: June 20, 2007
ID : 4218 [3888 x 2592]

European Starling Photo @ Kiwifoto.com
 
 
Location: Los Angeles, CA
GPS: 34.1N, -118.2W, elev=281' MAP
Date: June 20, 2007
ID : 4183 [3888 x 2592]

bird photography

SPECIES INFO

The European Starling, Common Starling or just Starling, Sturnus vulgaris, is a passerine bird in the family Sturnidae.

This species of starling is native to most of temperate Europe and western Asia. It is resident in southern and western Europe and southwestern Asia, while northeastern populations migrate south and west in winter to these regions, and also further south to areas where it does not breed in Iberia and north Africa. It has also been introduced to Australia, New Zealand, North America, and South Africa.

It is among the most familiar of birds in temperate regions. It is 19–22 cm long, with a wingspan of 37–42 cm and a weight of 60–90 g. The plumage is shiny black, glossed purple or green, and spangled with white, particularly strongly so in winter. Adult male European Starlings are less spotted below than adult females. The throat feathers are long and loose, and used as a signal in display. Juveniles are grey-brown, and by their first winter resemble adults though often retain some brown juvenile feathering especially on the head in the early part of the winter. The legs are stout, pinkish-red. The bill is narrow conical with a sharp tip; in summer, it is yellow in females, and yellow with a blue-grey base in males, while in winter, and in juveniles, it is black in both sexes. Moulting occurs once a year, in late summer after the breeding season is finished; the fresh feathers are prominently tipped white (breast feathers) or buff (wing and back feathers). The reduction in the spotting in the breeding season is achieved by the white feather tips largely wearing off. Starlings walk rather than hop. Their flight is quite strong and direct; they look triangular-winged and short-tailed in flight.

It is a noisy bird uttering a wide variety of both melodic and mechanical-sounding sounds, including a distinctive "wolf-whistle". Starlings are noted as mimics, like many of its family. In captivity, Starlings will learn to imitate all types of sounds and speech earning them the nickname "poor-man's Myna".

Confusion with other species is only likely in Iberia, the western Mediterranean and northwest Africa in winter, when it has to be distinguished from the closely related Spotless Starling, which, as its name implies, has less spotting on its plumage. The Spotless Starling can also be diagnostically distinguished at close range by its longer throat feathers. At a more basic level, adult male European Blackbirds can easily be distinguished by more slender body shape, longer tail, and behaviour; they hop instead of walking and do not probe for food with open bills. In flight, only the much paler waxwings share a similar flight profile.

This is the type species of the genus Sturnus. More recently, it is increasingly being accepted that this is not a natural evolutionary group but an evolutionary grade assembling a number of more-or-less distantly related Eurasian starlings which look a bit alike. Uniting such different birds such as European, Vinous-breasted, and Rosy Starlings in one genus has always been controversial, and it is likely the more distinct species will soon be separated again. Ultimately, the European and Spotless starlings, which form a superspecies, might be the only species retained in Sturnus.

There are several subspecies of the European Starling, mainly distinguishable by geographic range and the iridescence of adult plumage; much of the variation is clinal, with extensive intergradation between the subspecies. Acceptance of different subspecies varies between different authorities.

The Common Starling lives in a variety of habitats and can be found in any reasonably open environment including open woodlands, farmland, and saltmarsh. It is omnivorous, eating a wide variety of invertebrates, fruit, seeds, and also scavenges human food waste and visits bird tables.

It is a highly gregarious species in autumn and winter, forming huge flocks, and providing a spectacular sight and sound as they descend into evening reed-bed roosts, often attracting birds of prey such as Merlins or Sparrowhawks. Flocks are also noted for forming a tight sphere-like formation in flight, frequently expanding and contracting and changing shape, all seemingly without any sort of leader. Very large roosts, exceptionally up to 1.5 million birds, can form in city centres, woodlands, or reedbeds, causing problems with their droppings. These may accumulate up to 30 cm deep, killing trees by their chemical concentration; in smaller amounts, the droppings are however beneficial as a fertiliser, and therefore woodland managers may try to move roosts from one area of a wood to another to spread the benefit and avoid large toxic deposits.

Huge flocks of more than a million Starlings are observed just before sunset in spring in southwestern Jutland, Denmark. There they gather in March until northern Scandinavian birds leave for their breeding ranges by mid-April. Their flocking creates complex shapes against the sky, a phenomenon known locally as sorta sol ("Black Sun"). To witness this spectacle, the best place are the seaward marshlands (marsken in Danish) of Tønder and Esbjerg municipalities between Tønder and Ribe.

They are intelligent enough to work together to steal coins from out of a car wash.

Although there are approximately 200 million starlings in North America, they are all descendants of approximately 60 birds (or 100 see here) released in Central Park, New York, by Eugene Schieffelin who was a member of the Acclimation Society of North America, reputedly trying to introduce to North America every bird species mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare, though this is not correct.

The descendants of these Starlings have created problems in North America for other bird species, which are losing nesting sites to the more aggressive Starlings. Starlings will also sometimes drive off native birds, including the bluebirds (Sialia spp.), the Purple Martin (Progne subis), Tree Swallows (Iridoprocne bicolor), and some of the smaller species of woodpecker. They have even been observed taking over the nests of House Sparrows, another introduced species[citation needed]. The giant flocks of these birds are often compared to the even more massive flocks of the now-vanished passenger pigeon, and they may indeed fill a similar niche. A century after their introduction they have contributed to the decline of all of the above, multiplying rapidly, and can now be found throughout North America to the point of overpopulation.

These birds pose enough of a threat to other songbirds that it is legal to kill Starlings at any time in the U.S. and Canada, and a bounty may be paid.[citation needed] As an introduced species, starlings are not protected under American feral wildlife conservation laws.[citation needed] It is also a common practice where possible to set up nest boxes in backyards and wooded areas for native species to give them a chance, and to destroy Starling nests. In some cities birds of prey such as the Peregrine Falcon have been introduced or allowed to nest in built-up areas to help control the starling population.



                                     




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european_starling's Range Map Click here to see the European Starling's range map!
Listen to the European Starling Song:



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