The Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) is a widespread medium-sized bird.
The Common Starling has glossy black feathers with an iridescent sheen of purple or green. It is speckled with white spots. Males have long throat feathers. Its legs are pink and its beak is black in winter and pale yellow in summer.
It grows to about 20 centimetres (8 inches) tall, with a wingspan of up to 44 centimetres (17 inches).
The Common Starling lives in temperate zones in Europe and western Asia, and has been introduced to Australia, North America, South America, and South Africa. It is often found in urban areas. It also likes grassy farmlands, open forests, and woodlands.
It is omnivorous, eating insects, spiders, plants, fruit, and seeds.
It is a terrestrial bird, living on the ground, and not in trees. It walks or runs along the ground – and it does not hop very much.
It lives in large flocks of up to thousands of individual birds. The flock is quick, flying at 60-80 kilometres per hour (37-50 miles per hour) and can change direction rapidly. Individual starlings fly close together, making the flock look like a black cloud sometimes. Large flocks are called murmurations.
The male Common Starling builds an untidy straw, twig, or grass nest decorated with flowers and plants. It mates for life. Females lay 4-5 shiny, pale-blue eggs, which take about 14 days to hatch. Chicks are altricial – born blind and featherless. The chicks can see within 9 days, and gain their full feathers after about 60 days.
The average lifespan of the Common Starling is 2-3 years.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM