Spotless starling

Spotless starling
Sturnus unicolor
Photo by Celestino Costa (Flickriver)

Common name:
spotless starling (en); estorninho-preto (pt); étourneau unicolore (fr); estornino negro (es); einfarbstar (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Sturnidae

This species is found in south-western Europe, in Portugal, Spain, France and in the islands of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. It is also found in north-west Africa, in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

These birds are 19-23 cm long and have a wingspan of 30-40 cm. They weigh 70-100 g.

The spotless starling is found in open woodlands, scrublands, grasslands  and pastures, often associated with cattle, but they are also common in urban areas, rural gardens, plantations and arable land.

They mostly eat invertebrates during spring and summer and seeds and fruits during the rest of the year. These birds are rather opportunistic, taking advantage of occasional food sources, like fruits in vineyards and olive orchards, insects flushed by ploughing and cattle grazing and even eating human trash.

Spotless starlings breed in March-July. The nest is a foundation of twigs, dry grass, herbs and cereal stalks lined thickly with rootlets, grass, leaves, flowers, and feathers. It is placed in a hole, usually in a human-made structure but also in trees or rock faces. The female lays 3-6 blue-greenish eggs, which are incubated for 10-12 days. The chicks fledge 20-22 days after hatching. Each pair typically  raises 2 broods per season.

IUCN status – LC (Least concern)
This species has a large breeding range and a global population estimated at 10-20 million individuals. The population is suspected to be increasing due to a range expansion in Iberia.

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