Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine (perching) birds.
Many Asian species, particularly the larger ones, are known as mynas
Distribution / Range
Starlings occur naturally in the Old World, from Europe, Asia and Africa, to northern Australia and the islands of the tropical Pacific.
Several European and Asian species have been introduced to these areas as well as North America, Hawaii and New Zealand, where they generally compete for habitat with native birds and are considered to be invasive species.
These sociable birds are usually seen in flocks.
Interesting Yearly Event
In the fall, after having migrated from Russia and Scandinavia to escape frigid weather conditions, thousands of starlings gather in shape-shifting flocks called murmurations, apparently "dancing in the twilight" above England and Scotland.
Scientists can't explain this behavior. These murmurations are manifestations of swarm intelligence. Even complex algorithmic models couldn't explain the starlings' aerobatics.
This video was taken of this event.
Their plumage is typically dark with a metallic sheen.
The size and weight varies greatly by species.
- The shortest-bodied species is Kenrick's Starling (Poeoptera kenricki) at 6 inches (15 cm).
- The largest starlings are the mynas (genus Mino) - in particular the Yellow-faced (Mino dumontii) and Long-tailed Mynas (Mino kreffti). These mynas can exceed 1 foot (30 cm) and weigh over 8 oz (225 grams).
- The lightest-weight species is Abbott's Starling (Poeoptera femoralis), at 1.2 oz (34 grams).
They have strong feet and their flight is strong and direct.
Diet / Feeding
They are typically seen foraging in open country, feeding on various insects and fruits.
Several species - that live around human habitation - are quite omnivores.
Many species search for food by opening the bill after probing it into dense vegetation.
Nesting / Breeding
Most species nest in holes, laying blue or white eggs.
Calls / Vocalizations
Their vocalizations are diverse and complex. They are well known for embedding sounds from their surroundings into their own calls, such as car alarms and even human speech patterns.
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