Common Starling – Sturnus vulgaris
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Class: Aves
- Order: Passeriformes
- Family: Sturnidae
- Genre: Sturnus
- Species: Sturnus vulgaris
The body is black, with lighter shading to the back feathers and intense green and
purple on the head and chest. It imitates the songs of other birds.
It is a widespread species in the northern hemisphere. Native to Eurasia, it is found throughout Europe, North Africa (from Morocco to Egypt), India (mainly in the north, but steadily expanding southwards), Nepal, the Middle East, including Syria, Iran, Iraq and northwest China. Birds in harsh winter regions migrate. Large numbers of birds from northern Europe winter in Russia and Ukraine and migrate southwest and southeast. In North America, northern populations migrate in autumn from Canada to the southwestern United States. Grackles in southern and western Europe and south of the 40th parallel are predominantly sedentary. In Romania, the population of starlings ranges from 2,749,791 to 3,584,757 breeding pairs.
Living environment and biology of the species
The starlings prefer urban or suburban man-made areas where man-made structures and trees provide nesting sites. Birds usually feed in grassy areas such as farmland, pastures, sports fields or airfields, where short grass makes feeding possible. Outside settlements they prefer open woodlands with old, scrubby trees. Their ability to adapt to a wide variety of habitats has allowed them to disperse and establish in different parts of the world, so that the species occurs in a very wide range of habitats, from coastal wetlands to alpine forests, where it reaches altitudes of over 1 900 m. The starling is a very gregarious bird, especially in autumn and winter. Flocks are highly variable in size and noisy, and are used to defend against predator attacks. They perform expanding and contracting movements, constantly changing shape, To rid themselves of parasites, starlings use formic acid from ants, which they spread on their feathers with their beaks.
It reaches a maximum longevity of 22 years and nine months in the wild. Reaches sexual maturity at the age of one year. Grackles are insectivorous birds and feed on flies, moths, dragonflies, grasshoppers, trichopters, beetles, bees, wasps, ants, etc., even spiders. Another food source is earthworms, snails and even small invertebrates such as frogs and lizards. They can also consume grains, seeds, fruit, nectar and food waste. Grackles, if they have periods without access to food or if there is a reduction in the hours of daylight available for feeding, compensate for this deficit by increasing their body mass by depositing fat, It is a monogamous species.
It nests from April onwards in various cavities, such as hollows, crevices in stones, and in localities it uses any closed shelter it can find (butterflies in walls, under roofs, in chimneys, etc.). It lays two eggs per year, 3-7 eggs each, light blue in colour, 26.5 x 34.5 mm in size. The two partners hatch in turn, the incubation period being 12-14 days. The chicks are cared for by both parents for 3 weeks.
Threats and conservation measures
Threats include habitat alteration, fragmentation and loss, but also pollution, contamination by agricultural products, hunting and poaching. Conservation measures need to be taken, such as: matching forestry work to the biology of the species to avoid disturbance at critical times, banning deforestation resulting in reduced forest size and land use change, reducing the use of insecticides and herbicides in agriculture and forestry. Where necessary, substances with minimal toxicity and persistence should be applied to breeding grounds only outside the breeding season. Other measures are the maintenance of native forests, maintenance and development of a mosaic landscape, corridors between areas of spontaneous grassland, including scattered trees, tree lines and groups of non-productive trees. maintenance of at least 30 trees/ha for nesting in their hollows, installation of artificial nests. It is recommended to stop hunting and control poaching. Inventory of breeding, migration, feeding and aggregation areas important for the conservation of the species is necessary. It is also useful to promote studies on the biology of the species.
- Fântână Ciprian, Kovács Istvan, Benkő Zoltán, Daròczi Szilárd, Domșa Cristian, Veres- Szászka Judit (editors), 2022, Atlas of bird species of community interest in Romania, 2nd edition – Love birds, save nature!, Project financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Large Infrastructure Operational Programme 2014-2020, Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests – Biodiversity Directorate, scientific coordination Romanian Ornithological Society and Association for the Protection of Birds and Nature Milvus Group, produced by EXCLUS PROD SRL, p. 536.
Radu Dimitrie, 1983, Small Ornithological Atlas – Birds of the World, Albatros Publishing House, Bucharest, p. 242.