Common and widespread throughout Ireland, the opportunistic and adaptable Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) is as much at home in town centres and suburban gardens as it is in parks and farmland. Present year-round, our breeding population is supplemented in the winter by migrants from northern and central Europe.
It is said that familiarity breeds contempt, and that indeed seems to be the case with the the Starling. Rarely given a second glance, when seen in good light it is actually one of our most attractive and colourful birds, with a beautiful iridescent blue, green, bronze and purple sheen to its dark plumage, seemingly changing colour with the viewing angle. In autumn and winter the feathers become finely speckled with white, while young birds are always browner and duller overall.
At about 21cm in length, and with a short tail and squat appearance, Starlings are roughly between a Robin and a Blackbird in size. They enjoy a wide diet of worms, insect larvae, spiders and other invertebrates, as well as berries, fruit and seeds.
Noisy and boisterous, Starlings often form large flocks and can make themselves unpopular with bird table owners on account of their greedy and gregarious nature. They are, however, responsible for one of the most remarkable sights in nature: the synchronised aerial movements of thousands of Starlings flocking together in the evening, resembling wisps of smoke in the sky, can be breathtaking.
If you would to join BirdWatch Ireland and support their conservation work, or to receive information on Starlings and other Irish birds, please call 01-2819878,