Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)


[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Sturnidae | [latin] Sturnus vulgaris | [UK] Starling | [FR] etourneau sansonnet | [DE] Star | [ES] Estornino Pinto | [NL] Spreeuw


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

The Starling is a medium-sized, black songbird with short, triangular wings, spotted plumage, and a short tail. The adult in breeding plumage has a distinctive thin, pointed, yellow bill and black, speckled plumage with purple-green iridescence. The non-breeding adult has a black beak and light spots. Juveniles are drab gray-brown overall. Males and females look alike.
Starlings tend to form flocks year round, but flocks are generally larger’and often huge’in fall and winter. They often forage with other species, including Red-winged Blackbirds, House Sparrows, crows, and Rock Doves. When foraging, they generally walk or run along the ground and probe the soil with their bills, looking for food. Starlings can be aggressive and will persistently harass other species to take over nesting cavities. They will also mob predators in flight, gathering into tight flocks and dive-bombing a hawk or other predator. Starlings are intelligent and adaptable, and are capable mimics.

Listen to the sound of Starling


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 31 cm wingspan max.: 40 cm
size min.: 20 cm size max.: 23 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 19 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 8  


Eurasia : West, Central, introduced worldwide


Starlings are typically associated with disturbed areas and human-altered settings. They can be found in practically all habitats, with the exception of large tracts of undisturbed forests and undeveloped alpine areas. They usually forage in open areas, especially lawns, agricultural fields, or other developed areas, but require nearby nesting cavities.


Starlings are generally monogamous, but can be polygamous. They begin nesting early in the breeding season. Males establish territories and choose nest sites, then attract females. Starlings are cavity nesters, and nests are generally located in natural hollows, old woodpecker holes, birdhouses, or building eaves and crevices. The male generally starts the nest, and the female finishes the job, often removing material that the male placed initially. The nest is a loose pile of twigs, weeds, grass, feathers, leaves, and other material, with a depression in the middle. Both members of the pair help incubate 4 to 6 eggs for about 12 days. Females will sometimes lay eggs in other starlings’ nests. Both adults help brood the young and bring food to the nest. The young leave the nest after about three weeks. The parents may continue to feed the young for a day or two after they fledge, but the young can forage on their own at that time. If this is the first brood, the female typically starts laying a second brood shortly after the first one fledges. The male may provide support for up to 12 days after the young leave the nest, and the young often join other newly fledged young on communal roosts.

Feeding habits

Starlings eat a diverse, omnivorous diet of invertebrates, berries and other fruit, grains, and seeds. They commonly come to seed and suet feeders.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population sspecies is evaluated as Least Concern.
Oenanthe hispanica is a widespread summer visitor to southern Europe, which constitutes
>50% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is very large
(>1,400,000 pairs), but underwent a large decline between 1970-1990. Although the
species was stable or increased in most of its range during 1990-2000, declines continued
in a few countries?notably Spain?and it probably underwent a small decline overall.
Its population size has clearly not yet recovered to the level that preceded its decline,
and consequently the species is provisionally evaluated as Depleted.
Black-eared Wheatear status Least Concern


Migratory. Winters in semi-desert and Acacia savanna belt across northern tropical Africa from Senegal to Ethiopia. Nominate hispanica (breeding south-west Europe and North Africa) winters south of c. 18 degrees N, mainly in northern Senegal, south-west Mauritania, and Mali. Eastern race, melanoleuca (breeding east from south-east Italy), tends to replace nominate hispanica on wintering grounds east of 0-5 degrees E, although there is overlap in Mali.
Departure from breeding grounds August-September. Arrival on wintering grounds from mid-September (hispanica) or September-October (melanoleuca); departure mainly March-April, arriving on breeding grounds mainly from late March to early May.

Distribution map

Black-eared Wheatear distribution range map

Black-eared Wheatear distribution range map

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