Common starling

Common starling

Sturnus vulgaris

Common name:

Common starling

Scientific name:

Sturnus vulgaris

Alternative common names:


A common invasive starling found throughout the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces. It favours urban gardens and parks as well as agricultural regions where they feed on a variety of insects, fruits and seeds. This starling is very distinctive as breeding adults have a white-flecked appearance with bright yellow bill and glossy purple plumage around the head and shoulders.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Europe and some parts of Asia.

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 3.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Throughout the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces, extending slightly into the Northern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.

How does it spread?

Human beings are responsible for the spreading of this bird species through pet trade.

Why is it a problem?

It feeds on a wide variety of insect prey as well as fruits and seeds and competes against indigenous species for the same resources.

What does it look like?

Description: 21-22cm in length. Common starling has a wide variation in plumage. Both sexes are similar, although the female is less glossy than the male. In autumn, when the plumage is new, birds are glossed black, with a purple and green shine, and the tips of the body feathers have large white spots. At this time the bill is dark and the legs are brown. With wear, the white spots are lost, while the bill and legs turn yellow. During the breeding season adults become glossy-black without any spots. Young birds are dull grey-brown.

Habitat: Agricultural fields, deciduous woodlands. Their main requirements are open, grassy areas in which to forage, a water source, and trees or buildings that contain suitable cavities or niches for nesting.

Breeding: Prolific breeder laying 2-6 eggs which hatch after 15 days.

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