Sturnus vulgaris vulgaris Linnaeus, 1758
Common names: Common starling, European starling [En], Étourneau sansonnet [Fr], Spreeuw [Nl], Star [De], Storno comune [It], Estornino pinto [Es], Ψαρόνι [Gr], Sığırcık [Tu]
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Mandraki, SERRES ● Greece
Description: It is a medium-sized passerine bird of about 20 cm long and a wingspan of 31–44 cm. The plumage is iridescent black, glossed purple or green, and spangled with white, especially in winter. The underparts of adult male are less spotted than those of adult females at a given time of year. The throat feathers of males are long and loose and are used in display while those of females are smaller and more pointed. The legs are stout and pinkish- or greyish-red. The bill is narrow and conical with a sharp tip; in the winter it is brownish-black but in summer, females have lemon yellow beaks while males have yellow bills with blue-grey bases.
Juveniles are grey-brown and by their first winter resemble adults though often retaining some brown juvenile feathering, especially on the head. They can usually be sexed by the colour of the irises, rich brown in males, mouse-brown or grey in females.
• S. v. vulgaris Linnaeus, 1758 – Most of Europe, except the far northwest and far southeast; also Iceland and the Canary Islands – The nominate subspecies.
• S. v. faroensis Feilden, 1872 – Faroe Islands – Slightly larger than nominate, especially bill and feet. Adult with darker and duller green gloss and far less spotting even in fresh plumage. Juvenile sooty black with whitish chin and areas on belly; throat spotted black.
• S. v. zetlandicus Hartert, 1918 – Shetland Islands – Like faroensis but intermediate in size between that and vulgaris.
• S. v. granti Hartert, 1903 – Azores – Like nominate, but smaller, especially feet. Often strong purple gloss on upperparts.
• S. v. poltaratskyi Finsch, 1878 – Eastern Bashkortostan eastwards through Urals and central Siberia, to Lake Baykal and western Mongolia – Like nominate, but gloss on head predominantly purple, on back green, on flanks usually purplish-blue, on upper wing-coverts bluish-green. In flight, conspicuous light cinnamon-buff fringes to under wing-coverts and axillaries; these areas may appear very pale in fresh plumage.
• S. v. tauricus Buturlin, 1904 – From Crimea and E of Dnieper River eastwards around coast of Black Sea to W Asia Minor. Not in uplands where replaced by purpurascens – Like nominate, but decidedly long-winged. Gloss of head green, of body bronze-purple, of flanks and upper wing-coverts greenish bronze. Underwing blackish with pale fringes of coverts. Nearly spotless in breeding plumage.
• S. v. purpurascens Gould, 1868 – E Turkey to Tbilisi and Lake Sevan, in uplands on E shore of Black Sea replacing tauricus – Like nominate, but wing longer and green gloss restricted to ear-coverts, neck and upper chest. Purple gloss elsewhere except on flanks and upper wing-coverts where more bronzy. Dark underwing with slim white fringes to coverts.
• S. v. caucasicus Lorenz, 1887 – Volga Delta through eastern Caucasus and adjacent areas – Green gloss on head and back, purple gloss on neck and belly, more bluish on upper wing-coverts. Underwing like purpurascens.
• S. v. porphyronotus Sharpe, 1888 – Western Central Asia, grading into poltaratskyi between Dzungarian Alatau and Altai – Very similar to tauricus but smaller and completely allopatric, being separated by purpurascens, caucasicus and nobilior.
• S. v. nobilior Hume, 1879 – Afghanistan, SE Turkmenistan and adjacent Uzbekistan to E Iran – Like purpurascens but smaller and wing shorter; ear-coverts glossed purple, and underside and upperwing gloss quite reddish.
• S. v. humii Brooks, 1876 – Kashmir to Nepal – Small; purple gloss restricted to neck area and sometimes flanks to tail-coverts, otherwise glossed green. This is sometimes treated under the name indicus given by Hodgson.
• S. v. minor Hume, 1873 – Pakistan – Small; green gloss restricted to head and lower belly and back, otherwise glossed purple.
Biology: The common starling is a noisy bird. Its song consists of a wide variety of both melodic and mechanical-sounding noises as part of a ritual succession of sounds. It can often incorporate snatches of song mimicked from other species of bird and various naturally occurring or man-made noises.
The common starling is a highly gregarious species, especially in autumn and winter. Although flock size is highly variable, huge, noisy flocks - murmurations - may form near roosts. These dense concentrations of birds are thought to be a defence against attacks by birds of prey such as peregrine falcons or Eurasian sparrowhawks. Flocks form a tight sphere-like formation in flight, frequently expanding and contracting and changing shape, seemingly without any sort of leader. Each common starling changes its course and speed as a result of the movement of its closest neighbours.
This species is omnivorous, taking a wide range of invertebrates, as well as seeds and fruit. There are several methods by which common starlings obtain their food but for the most part, they forage close to the ground, taking insects from the surface or just underneath. Generally, common starlings prefer foraging amongst short-cropped grasses and are often found among grazing animals or perched on their backs, where they will also feed on the mammal's external parasites.
Common starlings are both monogamous and polygamous; although broods are generally brought up by one male and one female, occasionally the pair may have an extra helper. Pairs may be part of a colony, in which case several other nests may occupy the same or nearby trees.
The common starling builds an untidy nest in a natural or artificial cavity in which four or five glossy, pale blue eggs are laid. Incubation lasts thirteen days, although the last egg laid may take 24 hours longer than the first to hatch. Both parents share the responsibility of brooding the eggs, but the female spends more time incubating them than does the male, and is the only parent to do so at night when the male returns to the communal roost. The young are born blind and naked. The young remain in the nest for three weeks. There are normally one or two breeding attempts each year.
Habitat: Common starlings prefer urban or suburban areas where artificial structures and trees provide adequate nesting and roosting sites. Reedbeds are also favoured for roosting and the birds commonly feed in grassy areas such as farmland, grazing pastures, playing fields, golf courses and airfields where short grass makes foraging easy. They occasionally inhabit open forests and woodlands. Their ability to adapt to a large variety of habitats has allowed them to disperse in diverse locations around the world, from coastal wetlands to alpine forests, from sea cliffs to mountain ranges 1,900 m above sea level.
Distribution: Widespread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the bird is native to Eurasia and is found throughout Europe, northern Africa (from Morocco to Egypt), India and extending into the Maldives, Nepal, the Middle East including Syria, Iran, and Iraq and north-western China. It has been introduced to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United States, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, the Falkland Islands, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, South Africa and Fiji.
Common starlings in the south and west of Europe and south of latitude 40°N are mainly resident, although other populations migrate from regions where the winter is harsh, the ground frozen and food scarce. Large numbers of birds from northern Europe, Russia and Ukraine migrate south westwards or south eastwards.
In North America, northern populations have developed a migration pattern, vacating much of Canada in winter.
Wikipedia, Common starling