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Spotless Starling - BirdForum Opus

Photo by John Gibson2
Extremadura, Spain, April 2005
Sturnus unicolor

Alternative name: Mediterranean Starling

Identification

22cm. A medium-sized starling

  • Unspotted 'oily'-looking black plumage in spring and summer with purple or green gloss (depending on angle of light)
  • Some tiny pale spots on flanks and mantle in winter and in females
  • Greatly elongated feathers of crown, nape, throat and upper breast
  • Short-looking bill, yellow with bluish-black base in summer, blackish outside breeding season
  • Pink or reddish-pink legs, duller outside breeding season
  • Juveniles are dull brown; distinctly darker than juvenile Common Starlings
Juvenile
Photo by gerwin
Étang d'Urbino, Corsica, July 2007

Similar species

Common Starling can be almost devoid of spots, but there is still a structural difference, particularly in the throat feathers (long and slender in Spotless, short in Common). Spotless Starlings are always blacker than Common Starlings.

Distribution

Found in the western Mediterranean in Portugal, Spain, extreme southernmost France, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and northwest Africa (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia). Vagrants have been recorded as far north as Denmark.
Common to abundant in its range.

Taxonomy

This is a monotypic species[1].
Has been treated as conspecific with Common Starling, and hybrids are common where the two species overlap in northeast Spain.

Winter plumage
Photo by the late Jim Wood
Doñana, Spain, 2009

Habitat

Open grassy areas and areas of human habitation from towns to farm buildings. In overlap zone with Common Starling, prefers warmer, drier, more open, lowland areas.

Behaviour

Diet

Omnivorous, feeds on invertebrates, fruits, seeds and scraps.
Forms large feeding flocks.

Breeding

Breeding season from March to July, breeds often twice a year. A colonial nester. They nest in holes in buildings or trees and cliff crevices. Nesting also recorded in old holes of European Bee-eater or Sand Martin. The clutch averages 4 eggs.

References

  1. Clements, JF. 2009. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2009. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019.
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507

Recommended Citation

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