The Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), Fig. 33, belongs to the Insessorial birds of the Conirostral section and to the family Sturnidae. The general colour is a dark or blackish green, tinted with purple hues and with metallic lustres. The shoulders are brown or buff, the wing coverts edged with pale brown, and the general plumage spotted with buff. The breast feathers are elongated and pointed, the beak is yellow. These characteristic colours are not acquired until the second year. The first year's birds are coloured brown or brownish-grey. The females are less brilliantly coloured than the males. The nest is loosely constructed of sticks and straws, and generally made in a hole of a wall, or in a hollow tree. The eggs are pale blue, and five in number. Both parents tend the young, and the former and latter set up such an outcry when food is taken to the young that it may be heard a long way off.

The Starling.

Fig. 33. - The Starling.

Starlings are gregarious, common everywhere in large flocks, except in the breeding season, when they frequent buildings and especially churches, and are, to the district, guardians of lawns and meadows. The food consists of insects - cockchafers, wireworms, leather-jackets, woodlice, slugs (particularly their eggs), and worms, all the year round preying upon insects and their larvae. The cherry is a favourite fruit of starlings, and, unless kept away, they will destroy the crop.