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Birds Guide


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Common Starling
Common Starling
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Sturnidae
Genus: Sturnus
Linnaeus, 1756
S. albofrontatus
S. pagodarum
S. burmannicus
S. nigricollis
S. contra)
S. melanopterus
S. roseus
S. sericeus
S. cineraceus
S. vulgaris
S. unicolor

Sturnus is a genus of starlingss. As indicated below, the taxonomy of this group is complex, and other authorities differ considerably in which species they place in this genus, and the species boundaries within Sturnus.

The following is the list of Sturnus species in taxonomic order.:

  • Genus Sturnus
  • White-faced Starling, Sturnus albofrontatus (sometimes named S. senex)
    Brahminy Starling, Sturnus pagodarum
    Vinous-breasted Starling, Sturnus burmannicus (sometimes separated in Gracupica)
    Black-collared Starling, Sturnus nigricollis (sometimes separated in Gracupica)
    Asian Pied Starling, Sturnus contra (sometimes placed in Acridotheres)
    Black-winged Starling, Sturnus melanopterus (sometimes placed in Acridotheres)
    Rosy Starling, Sturnus roseus
    Red-billed Starling, Sturnus sericeus
    White-cheeked Starling, Sturnus cineraceus
    European Starling, Sturnus vulgaris
    Spotless Starling, Sturnus unicolor

This genus has representatives across most of Eurasia and one species, the European Starling, has been introduced to South Africa, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

The Sturnus starlings are terrestrial species; they walk rather than hop, and have modifications to the skull and its muscles for open-bill probing. The latter adaption has facilitated the spread of this genus from humid tropical southern Asia to cooler regions of Europe and Asia.

The more northerly breeding species are completely or partially migratory, wintering in warmer regions.

Sturnus starlings nest in holes in trees or buildings. They are omnivorous and mostly feed on the ground; they specialise in taking invertebrates from just below the surface. This is facilitated by the head adaptations decribed above, which enable the birds to probe with the bill open, closing it to secure prey items.

The plumages within this group are variable, but all the species have the starling's familiar triangular wing shape.

The European and Spotless Starlings are particularly closely related, and interbreed to some extent where their ranges overlap in southwestern France and northeastern Spain. The non-migratory Spotless may be descended from a population of vulgaris that survived in an Iberian refugium during an ice age retreat.


  • Freare and Craig, Starlings and Mynas ISBN 0-7136-3961-X
  • Grimmett, Inskipp and Inskipp, Birds of India ISBN 0-691-04910-6
  • Mullarney, Svensson, Zetterstrom and Grant, Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0-00-219728-6

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