September 22, 2017

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Another species I used to see more of. This one’s in real trouble and now on the red list.

As a schoolboy waiting for my bus in the centre of Bristol, the increasingly dark nights following the start of the new school year used to be made slightly more bearable by the giant flocks of Starlings which wheeled overhead before roosting on the surrounding buildings.

As a young urban bird watcher, this species was pretty much guaranteed in any garden or park probing the grass for insects or squabbling for food on the bird table. I certainly took them for granted, though always enjoyed seeing them for their iridescent plumage and characteristically boisterous behaviour.

Gradually and without me even really noticing they became somewhat less ubiquitous and when I moved away to college in Reading, I supposed that they just weren’t such a common species that far West. In truth, habitat and invertebrate prey loss through changes in farming practices, the fetish for new build housing and a general tidying away of favoured nesting places, has lead to a drop in numbers across Europe. In the UK, they’ve declined by over 66% since the 1970s.

This spring, I was therefore particularly pleased to discover that the scrabbling noise in the roof directly above our bedroom window was down to a pair of Starlings, who’d excavated the old House Sparrow nest behind the gutter.

This video was taken a few days before the chicks successfully fledged and you can hear them shrilly welcoming their parent’s beak full of still wriggling insect goodness!

Our Starlings' Nest (HD Video)

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