back to HYPP Zoology home page


.
Sturnus vulgaris (L.)
Aves, Passeriformes, Sturnidae .

European starling

Description, Biology, Life Cycle, Damage, Common Names, Images


[R]Description
- Adult: 17-18 cm long; 37 cm wingspan; feathers speckled and blackish with purple and greenish reflections; triangular reddish-white spots on the back, the upper part of the head and the neck; wings pointed; tail short, blackish-brown and reddish at the egdes; beak tapered and conical (*) ; female with more spots than male.
- Young have brown-grey feathers and a whitish throat(*) .
- Eggs are pale blue.

[R]Biology
- Starlings born in France are almost sedentary but young exhibit restlessness. In October, flocks of migrants coming from Northern and Eastern Europe arrive in France and leave in late February.
- These highly sociable starlings form flocks of variable size throughout the year. Apart from the breeding season, during which pairs are more or less isolated, dense populations (*) fly during the day and are present especially in fields and pastures where they associate with various other species, especialy corvids (e.g. the rook Corvus frugilegus). They regroup in the evening to spend the night, forming large roosts (a few thousands to several million individuals). They may roost reed beds, bamboo clumps or various woods but show a preference for conifers. Roosts in urban areas are becoming more and more common (open spaces, buildings).
- Nest building occurs in loose colonies. This species is a cavernicolous animal which can choose either natural caverns (trees, cliffs), cavities in constructions or nest-boxes (*) .
- Feeding habits: during the breeding season in spring, starlings feed on insects and earthworms. They also eat vast quantities of almost mature fruits and berries and, in the winter feed on land sown with cereal or other crop or maize silages in farming areas.

[R]Life Cycle
- Egg-laying starts from mid-April onwards, 4-7 eggs being laid. Another 3-4 eggs are laid in June-July.

[R]Damage
- Being extremely voracious, starlings can cause severe damage in orchards during the harvest period (cherry), plum, pear, apple, peach, vine), in outdoor farming by eating the food of poultry, birds, game, boars, etc., on maize silages and feeding cereal seedlings. Also, roosts constitute a nuisance (phytotoxicity, noise, hygiene) both in rural and urban areas (*) .
DE: Star ES: Estornino FR: Etourneau sansonnet, Sansonnet IT: Storno PT: Estorninho GB: European starling

[R] Images

  1. Sturnus vulgaris (L.) (ACTA)
    Adult
  2. Sturnus vulgaris (L.) (SPV)
    Adult near its nest
  3. Sturnus vulgaris (L.) (SPV)
    Starlings returning to roost at nightfall
  4. Sturnus vulgaris (L.) (ACTA)
    Starlings taking flight from a roost in the morning
  5. Sturnus vulgaris (L.) (ACTA)
    Young

To read this page in French

HYPPZ on line : Species (scientific name), Pests (common names), Glossary, Crops.

back to HYPP Zoology home page