European Starling, English Starling
Flocks of Common Starlings are often seen at dusk wheeling in large circles as they search for a roosting site for the night.
The Common Starling has a wide variation in plumage. Both sexes are similar, although the female is less glossy than the male. In autumn, when the plumage is new, birds are glossed black, with a purple and green shine, and the tips of the body feathers have large white spots. At this time the bill is dark and the legs are brown. With wear, the white spots are lost, while the bill and legs turn yellow. During the breeding season adults become glossy-black without any spots. Young birds are dull grey-brown.
Once a common bird of European deciduous woodlands (now in more rural and urban areas), the Common Starling was introduced into Australia in the late 1850s through to 1870. It has become well established and is expanding its range.
In Australia, the Common Starling has become a familiar sight around human habitation throughout the east and south-east.
Feeding and diet
Common Starlings are most often seen searching for seeds and insects on lawns and in paddocks. Other food includes spiders, worms, human scraps and fruit crops. Birds feed mainly on the ground and often in vast flocks.
The song of the Common Starling is an unmusical collection of wheezy whistles, clicks, scratching notes and some mimicry of other bird calls.
During breeding season, the large winter flocks of Common Starlings break up into pairs or small groups. The nest is an untidy cup of grasses, leaves, twigs and items of human rubbish. Nest sites are any type of hollow, such as tree hollows and house roof voids. The birds are aggressive when competing for nesting sites and readily drive out native species. The pale blue eggs are incubated by both sexes which also raise the young birds. Often two broods are raised in a season.
- Breeding season: Mainly August to January; can be anytime
- Clutch size: 4 to 8
- Incubation: 12 days
The Common Starling is a prominent bird in open cultivated areas, and is a well-known pest of orchards.
- Pizzey, G. and Knight, F. 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
- Strahan, R. (ed) 1996. Finches, Bowerbirds and Other Passerines of Australia.Angus and Robertson and the National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.