Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor)

Spotless Starling

Spotless Starling

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Sturnidae | [latin] Sturnus unicolor | [UK] Spotless Starling | [FR] etourneau unicolor | [DE] Einfarb-Star | [ES] Estornino negro | [NL] Zwarte Spreeuw


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Creatophora unicolor
Sturnus unicolor EU sw Europe, also n Africa

Physical charateristics

Medium-sized starling of similar form and behaviour to Starling but adult differs noticeably in black and evenly glossed, virtually unspotted plumage (except in 1st-year ) and in fresh winter plumage). Juvenile differs from continental races of Starling in darker, browner plumage.

Listen to the sound of Spotless Starling

[audio: Starling.mp3]

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.: 10 days incubation max.: 13 days
fledging min.: 20 days fledging max.: 13 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


Eurasia : Southwest Europe, also North Africa


Within restricted warm west Mediterranean range, habitat corresponds closely to that of Starling elsewhere, nesting in buildings and in tree-holes. In Spain, prefers open woodland with access to short grass and herbage, and frequently found in association with cattle; in winter, prefers more open places such as irrigated and cereal fields. In Corsica, mainly on littoral plains of west coast, frequenting cultivation but also degraded maquis and outskirts of villages. In north-west Africa, much attracted to human habitations, but also nests colonially in holes in large cedars in Moyen Atlas, making long flights from forest to open plateaux to collect food, at altitudes around 1700-1800 m.


Egg-laying begins March in North Africa, April in Spain and Sicily. 2 broods. This starling exhibits escorting behavior, the male follows the female. Escorting behaviour beguns 4-5 days before egg laying and declines markedly between the second and third days of the laying period. Males follow their females more than the reverse, and spend up to 90% of time in the colony with the female during her fertile period. Escorting males chase off actively other males to prevent them approaching their mate. Copulations occur mostly during the escorting period. As males escort their females only during the fertile period, it is suggested that escorting can be interpreted more as mate guarding behaviour aimed at avoiding extra-pair fertilisations than at protecting the pair bond.
Thenest is built in a hole, usually in man-made situation such as under roof-tiles, in wall (often in large towns), agricultural structure, nest-box, etc.; also in tree or rockface. The nest is a foundation of twigs, dry grass, and herb and cereal stalks lined thickly with rootlets, grass, leaves, flowers, and feathers. Clutch size varies from 3-6, chicks are incubated for 10-12 days, they fledge 20-22 days after hatching.

Feeding habits

Principally invertebrates from early spring to summer, seeds and fruits during rest of year. Opportunistic feeder, taking food basically according to abundance; favourite foraging places are improved grassland and pasture, but also feeds in vineyards, olive groves, arable fields (especially stubble), and rubbish tips. Very strong association with cattle all year round, taking plant remains in dung, flushed insects, and parasites on body and head of animals.


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 appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable 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 size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Spotless Starling status Least Concern


Resident, or partial short-distance migrant, subject to nomadic dispersal.

Distribution map

Spotless Starling distribution range map

Spotless Starling distribution range map

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