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Common Starling

From Opus

Alternative name: European Starling

Adult changing to summer plumagePhoto by RagnaApril 2003
Adult changing to summer plumage
Photo by Ragna
April 2003
Sturnus vulgaris


[edit] Identification

JuvenilePhoto by RookeryHavelock North New Zealand, December 2008
Photo by Rookery
Havelock North New Zealand, December 2008

21 cm (8¼ in) Wide variation in plumage. Both sexes are similar, although the female is less glossy than the male.


  • Glossed black with a purple and green shine
  • Tips of the body feathers have large white spots
  • Dark bill
  • Brown legs

With wear, the white spots are lost, while the bill and legs turn yellow.


  • Adults glossy-black, males without any spots, females with a few
  • Yellow bill

Young birds are dull grey-brown with dark bill

Some of the eastern subspecies are completely spotless, and may show a violet gloss.

[edit] Similar species

Especially in south west Europe and north Africa, look at Spotless Starling which has a different structure in the feathers especially at the throat.

[edit] Distribution

This starling is native to most of Eurasia, but in most of the Iberian Peninsula and north Africa only as winter guest. It has additionally been introduced to South Africa, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Common or abundant in most of its range


 S. vulgaris; original range, year-round
 S. vulgaris; original range, summer only
 S. vulgaris; original range, winter only
 S. vulgaris; introduced, year-round
 S. vulgaris; introduced, summer only

Juvenile changing into first winter plumagePhoto by maliHastings,  UK, July 2010
Juvenile changing into first winter plumage
Photo by mali
Hastings, UK, July 2010

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

Flight profilePhoto by targetmanWorlaby, Lincolnshire, October 2007
Flight profile
Photo by targetman
Worlaby, Lincolnshire, October 2007

This is a polytypic species, consisting of twelve subspecies[1]:

  • S. v. granti: Azores
  • S. v. vulgaris: Canary Islands and Iceland to Ural Mountains, northern Ukraine and south-eastern Europe
  • S. v. faroensis: Faeroes
  • S. v. zetlandicus: Shetland Islands
  • S. v. tauricus: Eastern and southern Ukraine, Crimea and Asia Minor
  • S. v. purpurascens: Western Transcaucasia to Georgia and Armenia
  • S. v. caucasicus: Volga Delta and northern Caucasus to Caspian Sea and southern Iran
  • S. v. nobilior: Afghanistan, Transcaspia and Khorasan
  • S. v. poltaratskyi: Eastern Ural Mountains to Lake Baikal, Kazakstan and western Mongolia
  • S. v. porphyronotus: Southern Dzungaria and Tien Shan Mountains to Pamir Mountains and Samarkand
  • S. v. humii: Western Himalayas (Kashmir to Garhwal)
  • S. v. minor: Locally in western Pakistan (Sind)

[edit] Habitat

Varied. Can be found in any reasonably open environment from farmland to salt marsh.

[edit] Behaviour

Very gregarious out of the breeding season.

[edit] Movement

Adult winterPhoto by JackFNetherlands, November 2006
Adult winter
Photo by JackF
Netherlands, November 2006

Starlings walk rather than hop. Their flight is quite strong and direct; they look triangular-winged and short-tailed in flight.

[edit] Breeding

Nests in thatches, nest boxes, tree holes. An untidy feather-lined nest is constructed from straw, grass or twigs. The clutch consists of 4-5 pale blue, glossy eggs with. They are incubated for around 2 weeks and flegde about 19-22 days later. There may be 2 broods in the season, which usually runs from April to July.

[edit] Diet

They mainly feed on insect larvae but are opportunist feeders and will visit bird tables. They also like autum berries.

[edit] Vocalisation

Listen in an external program

[edit] Gallery

Click images to see larger version

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from
  2. Bird Watching

[edit] External Links

For videos of Starling Roosts


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