Thursday, December 5, 2019

European Starling

The European starling is also known as the common starling. It got a foothold in the U.S. in 1890 when the head of the American Acclimatization Society released 60 of them in Central Park in New York City. That 60 has grown to 150 million in 129 years, with the starlings now found from Alaska and southern Canada to Central America. 
Starlings pack this tree on Antelope Island.
This is a little closer look. Notice the white spots on them, something that happens during the winter. 
It has iridescent black plumage with a glossy purple and green sheen and speckled with white some times during the year, particularly in winter. It has pink or grayish/red legs and the bill is yellow in summer and black in winter. Males have long and loose throat feathers which they use in mating displays and females throat feathers are smaller and more pointed. 
These starlings are landing in a tree near a black-billed magpie. 
Another good view of the white spotting on the upper bird. 
There are a number of subspecies of the European starling worldwide and it appears that the subspecies that was introduced to the U.S. was S. v. vulgaris, the nominate subspecies, which is found in most of Europe. 
The starlings I photographed were at Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, although we saw massive numbers of starlings in North Dakota earlier in the year that may have been the most massive display of birds I've ever seen. They weren't cooperative in the photo department. 

1 comment:

  1. Those photos remind me just a little too much of Hitchcock's movie "The Birds."