European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

19 April

We will be getting to the more beautiful and less common birds before too long as return migration gradually gets under way (patience everyone) but meanwhile you will be seeing these handsome fellows in your neighbourhoods around now.

A thug and a bully and not native to North America. Though they’re sometimes disliked – especially by birders – for their abundance and aggressiveness, they’re still truly beautiful birds when you get a good look. Covered in white spots during winter, they turn dark and glossy in summer.

First brought to North America by Shakespeare enthusiasts in the nineteenth century, European Starlings are now among the continent’s most numerous songbirds. They are stocky black birds with short tails, triangular wings, and long, pointed bills. For much of the year, flocks of sometimes thousands of birds wheel through the sky (an activity known as a murmuration) and mob lawns in big, noisy feeding flocks.