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This familiar bird, the European Starling, has a glossy black plumage with subtle reflections of green and blue. The feathers appear iridescent in the summer months and become white speckled in the winter. They are plump bodied birds with short pointed wings. The wing feathers are dark brown edged but this is only visible when the bird is resting. The bill is yellow in spring, turning a blackish color in autumn. The mantle feathers are buff tipped, while the flanks and underside are spotted white. At first glance one might mistake the European Starling for a black bird, but a closer inspection will show that the tail is shorter and the iridescent effect is quite distinctive.
Although European Starlings are considered a nuisance they are not destructive. The are a quarrelsome bird with very greedy feeding habits. But the food they choose to eat is insects and berries, so cultivated fruit is safe in their presence. While questing for food these birds are energetic and assiduous, probing the soil and waddling about incessantly. They are not above grabbing scraps put out for other birds. There has been a very successful introduction of the species and European Starlings can now be found in towns, parks, open farmland and gardens. Their walk is jerky and in flight they move with a fast direct action. When watching a European Starling in flight they appear triangular.
European Starlings have a wide assortment of calls. They have also been known to mimic the calls of other animals and mechanical sounds. When nesting this bird will use any opening in a tree, building or rock. The unmated male bird takes responsibility for building the nest, which is usually a bulky, untidy structure of straw that is later lined in moss and feathers by the female. The female will lay five to seven eggs which are greenish blue in color. The juveniles are a uniform mouse brown, but quickly progress to adult plumage.