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Species Description

European Starling

Sturnus vulgaris


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Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Sturnidae

Description

Yellow bill; brown eyes; brownish-orange legs and feet. Breeding season: Iridescent black overall. Winter: Black overall; white to buff spotting over the whole body. Other things to look for: The calls of this species are variable, including whistles, warbles, and squeaks. 22cm (8.5 in) in length.

Life Cycle

The breeding season begins in early March, peaks in April, and extends to mid-June. Nesting habitat is variable, but requires a nesting site usually 3-6 m (10-20 feet) above the ground in a cavity, on a ledge, or in a cranny. The male starts the nest to attract a mate. The female finishes the nest. It appears to be a very hastily built nest constructed out of grass, twigs, and other plant material. The female lays 4-8 (usually 4-6) eggs that she incubates with some help from the male for 12-14 days. The young are altricial and fledge 18-21 days after hatching. Both adults care for the young while they are in the nest. Young are dependent on the adults for about 5 days after leaving the nest.

Natural History

Breeding habitat is usually in close proximity to human beings and man-made structures. When not breeding, this species is found within large flocks that commonly include other species of blackbirds. The main foods of the European Starling are insects, fruits, seeds, and berries. It gathers food by picking items up from the ground, or probes into the ground to find food.

Range

European Starling Region Map The European Starling is found throughout the continental United States all year.

Conservation Status

This species was introduced into North America in 1890-91. It has successfully spread throughout the continental United States and is not listed as requiring any special conservation attention in any portion of its range.

Similar Species

The most similar species to the European Starling are the other blackbirds. The Common Grackle, the Brown-headed Cowbird, and the Red-winged Blackbird are the most common eastern blackbirds. All three of these species have dark bills and legs, which distinguishes them from the European Starling.