EVERY WEEK THIS YEAR WE WILL HAVE NEW SUGGESTIONS FOR A DIFFERENT GROUP OF BIRDS TO LOOK FOR TO HELP DEVELOP YOUR #MY200BIRDYEAR LIST
This week, it is Starling
This familiar garden bird has declined hugely as a breeding bird in the UK. In addition to our breeding population, each autumn into winter, perhaps millions of birds come over from the continent to winter here. Famed for its spectacular murmurations: huge gatherings of swirling Starlings preparing themselves for roost. Legend has it that beneath every swirling murmuration is a Bill Oddie conducting operations.
Starlings are dark, chunky, mid-sized (ie like a small thrush) birds with longish pointed bills and short tails. Identification-wise main problem species is Blackbird, which it superficially resembles, but Starlings have a completely different structure: big headed, short tailed, long billed and upright in stance, with a striding walking gait. And they have glossy, iridescent plumage liberally spotted white in winter (when the bill goes blackish). In flight, Starlings look chunky and black with triangular pointed wings. Flocks of migrating or pre-roosting birds ae usually very tightly knit. Juvenile Starlings also cause confusion to some people, as they are grey-brown with pale legs, but a dark bill and lores (area between the eye and bill) and a pale throat. As they get slightly older, they obtain the spotted adult body and wings, leaving the head like a juvenile for a while.
All photos from Alamy