Starlings - Hebridean Birds Sightings

Western Isles Birds - Starlings - small birds, that really are beautiful

Starlings - these noisy birds can now easily be seen in The Western Isles - however their status is "red" as they did become a rarity in Scotland and The Western Isles in the eighties.

Starlings with their iridescent purple and black sheen on their feathers - really are a pretty bird.


Sparrow - Housesparrow -  Western Isles Bird Sightings
Bird Overview - House Sparrow
Family
Starlings
Latin name
Sturnus vulgaris

 Population
Has a "Red" Status as is declining


Similar Species
Blackbird
Description

These birds the starlings are smaller than blackbirds - from a distance they too look black - but closer up you can clearly see that they are very shiny and have greens and purple and browns in their colourings. The starlings have short tails - pointed heads. Starlings have strong feet, their flight is strong and direct, and they are gregarious.

The females and males look very similar with the male having fewer speckles on the rump and wings. in the winter they have white speckles above and below. The speckles disappear through the winter and by the spring the plumage is iridescent with green and purple hues. Juveniles are drab gray-brown overall

In flight their wings are triangular. Many other birds have strong muscles that snap the bill shut, but the starling actually is the opposite - it has strong muscles act to open the bill. This means that the starling can probe into grass, weeds or soil, and then open the bill to force aside the weeds to look for insect foods. Its eyes also rotate forward allowing the bird to search for food directly in front of its bill. In the spring, the bill of the starling is yellow, but it becomes dark in the winter.

Size
22 cm /9ins in length - Wing Span 15 - 17 ins. Weight 75-90gm
Habitat
Starlings in winter gather in communal roosts. Starlings can be seen in many different habitats - they will forage in open areas, especially lawns, agricultural fields, or other developed areas, but require nearby nesting cavities.

Food
Berries, fruit, seed, invertebrates, insects
Voice
Starlings have many different vocalisations. They can embed sounds from their surroundings into the middle of their calls. They are great mimics - can emulate car alarms and even human speech patterns - so it is said. The starling is said to be one of the noisiest garden birds.

Breeding

The starlings lay as many eggs as the female is able to, but if there doesn't look to be enough food then she will deliberately throw out of the nest one or more of the eggs before they hatch. The eggs are pale blue. Starlings can be aggressive and will persistently harass other species to take over their nests.

The males establish the territory and choose the nest sites. The nest is made of twigs, weeds, grass, feathers, leaves - the female finishes building the nest. Incubation takes up to 12 days and both parents take a part in the incubation - usually 4 - 6 eggs are hatched. The youngsters leave the nest at about three weeks.

Misc. Info
In winter starlings from Northern Europe join our own starlings - the form huge flocks.The shape and colour of their tail feathers, and the length of the iridescence on the throat feathers can sometimes assist in determining their age and sex.

 

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