BIRD OF THE WEEK / WEEK 3: January 15, 2018

© Liron Gertsman

Bird

European Starling

Species Name

Sturnus vulgaris

Appearance

19-23 cm length | 31-44 cm wingspan | 59-100 gm weight

A slender, medium-sized songbird with a thin, sharp, conical bill and short legs. The male has loose, elongated throat feathers that are displayed while singing

The Common Starling is glossy black with an iridescent green-purple sheen. They are heavily speckled with white, especially in the winter. They have a yellow (summer) or black (winter) bill, dark eyes and pink legs and feet. Juveniles are brown, darkening with age

Habitat / Behaviour

Omnivore | Woodland, Urban | Lives 2-22 years

An opportunistic omnivore that will take a wide variety of invertebrates, seeds and fruit. Typical invertebrate prey include earthworms, snails, spiders, flies, crane flies, mayflies, dragonflies, damsel flies, moths, grasshoppers, earwigs, lacewings, beetles, sawflies, bees, wasps and ants. They will also occasionally take small vertebrates such as frogs and lizards.

Starlings are highly gregarious making up massive flocks, sometimes numbering in the millions. In flight they can be observed making spectacular, synchronized movements, expanding and collapsing in and out of a fluid, sphere-like formation. These large flocks are called murmurations.

They are noisy with an unmusical, sometimes buzzy, varied song. They are known for their ability to mimic other birds and animals and even urban sounds such as car alarms.

Breeding

Monogamous, Polyamorous | Cavity nester | 4-5 pale blue eggs | 1-2 broods

The male finds the nesting spot and begins to build the nest, singing while he works. He decorates it with pleasantly scented herbs such as yarrow to attract a female

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