Spotlight on... Starlings

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) © Jared Belson

The Starling

Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) are noisy and beautiful, with shimmering spotted feathers and an excited squawky call. Starlings are perhaps most famous for their murmurations, when they gather together in huge flocks in the autumn and winter, producing mesmerising aerial displays. Sadly, the starling population has fallen by more than 80 per cent in recent years and they are endangered, but you can still see them in your garden (if you have a bird feeder) or in the countryside.

Where are the Starlings?

According to our database, starlings are found throughout Oxfordshire and Berkshire, but mostly around Otmoor. However, our database only includes information which people have provided to us (and we have collected), so a lack of records doesn’t mean that starlings aren’t present in the area. All it means is that no-one has told TVERC they’ve spotted them… yet!

Have you seen any Starlings?

If you spot any wildlife when you’re out and about, share your records with TVERC via our website. By letting TVERC know what you have seen you will help protect and improve your local environment by increasing the quality and quantity of data we hold. Photographs are always helpful too, as we keep an image gallery of species found in Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

Absence records are also very useful, so also let us know if you’ve been out and haven’t seen anything!

Your records can inform a variety of exciting biodiversity projects and help people make informed decisions about how to develop and manage land sustainably. We are a ‘not for profit’ organisation so rely on valuable help from skilled volunteers to improve our database.

Identification help

At a distance, starlings look black. In summer they are purplish-green iridescent with yellow beaks; in winter their plumage is brown, covered in brilliant white spots.

Starlings are small and stocky with a short tail and long, pointed bill. In flight, starling wings are short and pointed, making them look rather small and four-pointed starts (which gives them their name). The young are a dull grey-brown colour with a paler throat than the male and an unspotted breast.

Find out more…

Check out https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/starling for more information on starlings.

Where should we direct our spotlight next?

If you are a recorder, a local recording group or just have an interest in a species, send us your suggestion for a species, along with some facts and a photo (if possible) to tverc@oxfordshire.gov.uk.

Starling Photo (Sturnus vulgaris) by Jared Belson