European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

European Starling


The common starling or European starling (Sturnus vulgaris), also known simply as the starling in Great Britain and Ireland, is a medium-sized passerine bird in the starling family, Sturnidae. It is about 20 cm (8 in) long and has glossy black plumage with a metallic sheen, which is speckled with white at some times of year. The legs are pink and the bill is black in winter and yellow in summer; young birds have browner plumage than the adults. It is a noisy bird, especially in communal roosts and other gregarious situations, with an unmusical but varied song. Its gift for mimicry has been noted in literature including the Mabinogion and the works of Pliny the Elder and William Shakespeare. A young juvenile perching on a table in London. Its plumage is mainly grey-brown

Distribution And Habitat

The European Starling is native to Eurasia and North Africa, and in the West Indies it has been introduced or colonized from nearby source populations to The Bahamas, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin and Cayman Islands (Raffaele and others 1998). It primarily inhabits open lowland areas, pastures, and gardens (Raffaele and others 1998). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of three records within one hexagon or 0.2 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Breeding was confirmed in the only hexagon (100 percent) where this species was found (see map).

European Starling Distribution

Breeding Habits

Previously published reports indicate that the European Starling breeds from April to June (Raffaele and others 1998). The nest is built in a cavity or at the base of palm fronds (Raffaele and others 1998). Atlas fieldwork yielded three records (one of which confirmed breeding in December), all in the same hexagon in Fajardo in the subtropical moist forest life zone (see map and table). During the Fajardo Christmas Bird Counts, seven individuals were observed in 2007, one individual was reported in 2009, six were reported in 2010, and none have European Starling distribution. The map shows the highest breeding code by hexagon and overlaying the ecological life zones in Puerto Rico. Note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding. 225European Starling/Estornino Pintobeen recorded in subsequent years through 2019 (Cornell University 2020).


The European Starling is currently listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2016). The species may have failed to successfully establish on Puerto Rico given absence of recent observations. Locally, this species is not listed in any of the threatened categories of PRDNER and USFWS. In Puerto Rico, the European Starling has a protected habitat in land of 33 percent or 8 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where evidence of breeding was found for this species (24 km2).