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Common Starling

Common Starling
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Sturnus vulgaris

The Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) is a passerine bird in the family Sturnidae.

This starling is native to most of Eurasia, but has been introduced to South Africa, North America, Australia and New Zealand. This adaptable and omnivorous species has proved to be a pest in several of these countries. In Western Australia, which is starling-free, the government pays full-time hunters to patrol the border and shoot starlings as they arrive.

It is resident in southern and western Europe, but migrates from colder regions to these areas, and further south to Iberia (where it does not breed) and north Africa.

The Starling is catholic in its choice of habitats, and can be found in any reasonable open environment from farmland to saltmarsh.

These birds will eat almost anything, including farmland invertebrates and berries. This is a highly gregarious species, forming huge flocks in winter, and providing a spectacular sight as they descend into evening reed-bed roosts, often attracting birds of prey. Large roosts (exceptionally up to a million birds) can form in city centres, causing a great deal of mess from their droppings.

This is a hole-nesting species, and has impacted on native species where it has been introduced because of competition for nest sites.

This must be one of the most familiar of birds, with its shiny black plumage spangled with white. Confusion is only likely in Iberia 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. Young birds are dull brown.

Starlings walk rather than hop. Their flight is quite strong and direct; they look triangular-winged and short-tailed in flight. In most of Europe, only the rarer and much paler Bohemian Waxwing shares this flight profile. This is a noisy bird, and a good mimic, like many of its family.

Common Starling.