Slightly smaller than a Song Thrush in size, the Starling is mostly black in colour with a purple/blue iridescent sheen to its breast that becomes green on the flanks. Both sexes have fine flecks of buff/white on the rump, wings and mantle, which become more prominent in winter, but the male has fewer of these flecks than the female.
Juveniles lack the black base colour and iridescence of the adults and are a buffish grey colour with a lighter creamy coloured throat.
20 - 23cm
75 - 90g
Urban and rural settings such as farmland, parks, gardens, towns and sewage farms.
April to May. Will readily take to artificial nests.
1-2 broods of 4-7 pale blue green eggs, incubated for 10-14 days.
Notorious for not being too fussy about their diet, see below!
Call is a series of 'whistles', 'clicks' and 'wheezes', but will mimic calls of other birds and man made objects such as telephones!
Starlings have a reputation for being 'bully boy' like and vulgar in character, which in our opinion is unfair. When observed for any length of time they are fascinating and very attractive creatures that get up to all sorts of antics. Starlings are particularly amusing at bath times, when they can be seen furiously splashing. When finished however, you cannot guarantee that there will be enough water left for anyone else!!
Very adaptable and widespread throughout the UK, Starlings travel around in large flocks, often hundreds at a time. One reason for this is as protection from predators, the other to help them find food. They also roost in huge communal groups, which isn't such a problem in the countryside but in towns, residents complain because of the noise and often excessive fouling.
Starlings will make use of any possible nesting opportunity such as holes in walls, trees, buildings etc. and will readily take to man-made nest boxes. The nests are made by males in order to attract a mate and then the female completes the nest by lining it with grass and other plant matter.
When it comes to laying, Starlings often lay their eggs in the nests of other Starlings. If unaware, the other female will raise them as her own but if she realises what has happened she will eject the eggs.
Although notorious for not being fussy about what they eat, Starlings will only feed nutritious insects and other invertebrates to their young. They themselves will eat all manner of kitchen scraps and fruit (often from rubbish dumps) and are renowned for being the bully of the bird table. They feed in flocks and can dominate feeders and tables and clear them of food before other species get a look in, which can make them unpopular with many birders.
Starling numbers have declined significantly (25-49%) over the last 25 years, giving the species an amber conservation listing. Little is known about why they are in such rapid decline but loss of their preferred feeding habitat, permanent pasture, has been put forward as one reason.