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Common Starling

Sturnus vulgaris (Linnaeus, 1758)

Обыкновенный скворец | Қараторғай
spring

2012-04-19
Ust-Kamenogorsk. Irtysh river.
© Viktor Kolesnikov

Description

The adult male of the Common Starling in breeding plumage is black with the green, purple and bronze metallic gloss. All body excluding the throat and breast is with some number of the white or buffy spots and edges of the feathers. In the end of the nesting period the feathers gradually staling lose these edges. The upperwing is black with the narrow white or broad buffy edges. The bill is yellow, long and thin; legs are brown, claws are black. The eyes are dark brown. The female is similar but has less metallic gloss. The eyes are very light almost white. After the autumn molting birds have the much expanded buffy or white edges of the feathers which sometimes almost hide the base color on the mantle. Juveniles are plain dark-brown with lighter whitish throat. The flight feathers and its coverts with light-buffy edges. Weight 66,0-97,5 grams, length about 230, wing 117-137, tail 61,2-72,0 mm.

Distribution

In Kazakhstan the Common Starling lives in the northern forest-steppe areas and on steppes and foothills of south and east Kazakhstan from Syrdaria river to Altai. The detailed distribution in Kazakhstan please see in the chapter "Races".

Biology

The Common Starling is common breeding migrant. It inhabits the flood-lands and riparian forest; rivers' clay precipices; groves near lakes; towns, villages and farms; close to open country (meadows, pastures, steppes) on the plains, in foothills and mountains up to 1000-1500 m. On migration it observed in the vineyards, cherry gardens, hay fields, stubble fields, shore of rivers and lakes, especially with reed-beds. It appears in mid February – early March in southern areas, and in end March – early April in northern ones; in flocks of 10-200 birds. Majority of the birds migrate on mid March – mid April, last migrants recorded in the end of May. The intensive migration continues for about one week. Breeds in loose colonies or in separate pairs, though not far one from another. Nest is built in the tree hole; in rocky cracks; human constructions and nest-boxes; in holes in precipices (often in the former nest holes of the Sand Martin, Bee-eater and Roller); among old nests of raptors and Rooks. Both partners clear the cavity and build the new nest from the dry grass and line it with the thinner grass and during incubation with some fresh herbage (tomato, dill, wormwood). Clutches of 3-8 (more often of 5-6) eggs are laid in mid April – end June. The only female incubates (probably the male some assistance) for 11-14 days. Both parents feed juveniles, which fledge at around three weeks, end May – end July. Most pairs of porphyronotus subspecies are double brood (proved by ringing studies); other subspecies are one brood. Repeated breeding after losing of the first nest is common. An autumn movement starts in July and August. Juveniles of first brood quickly disappear from the breeding areas; they agglomerate in flocks and start to wander. In this time the Starlings concentrate in flocks of hundred of thousands birds to stay overnight usually in the reed-beds or scrubs. The true migration occurs from early September to end November, the majority of the birds migrate in mid September – end October. Some individuals have been recorded in winter.

Subspecies

Sturnus vulgaris vulgaris (Linnaeus, 1758)

    Description. The crown is violet glossy a weak greenish tinged; the back, rump and upper tail coverts are green glossy sometimes a weak violet tinged; the throat and upper breast are violet glossy; the lower breast is green glossy; the abdomen is green glossy with a bright or dark violet tinge; ear coverts show a greenish glossy; underwing coverts are grey with narrow whitish or ochre edges. It is close to poltaratskyi.
    Distribution. Breeds in Volga-Ural region and in Ural valley, in south to Emba valley, northern part of Ustyurt and in east to Mugodzhary ridge. The distribution on migration isn't determined.

Sturnus vulgaris poltaratskyi (Finsch, 1878)

    Description. The crown is violet glossy, usually without green tinge; the back, rump and upper tail coverts are green glossy, sometimes with a weak violet tinge; the throat and upper breast are violet glossy; the under breast is green glossy; the abdomen is green glossy with more developed violet tinge than on vulgaris; the ear coverts on the majority of specimens are more violet less green glossy. The underwing coverts have slightly broader than on vulgaris buffy edges. It is close to vulgaris.
    Distribution. Breeds in the northern half of Kazakhstan, in south to lower Irgiz and Turgay rivers, Kurgaldzhino Reserve and Zaysan depression. It nests in Pavlodar Trans-Irtysh area, Kalbinskiy Altai and in southwest Altai. On migration it occurs in most parts of Kazakhstan. Sometimes winters on Barsa-Kelmes island. On Chardara reservoir 18-21 December 2003 a lot of birds were observed.

Sturnus vulgaris porphyronotus (Sharpe, 1888)

    Description. The crown is green glossy; the back, rump and upper tail coverts are violet glossy bronze tinged, at the northern and southern borders of the distribution of this race these parts have a bluish-greenish or greenish tinge; the throat and upper breast are green glossy; the lower breast is violet glossy; the abdomen is bronze glossy greenish tinged; the ear coverts usually violet glossy. The underwing coverts are grey with whitish edges.
    Distribution. Breeds and occurs on migration in the southern part of Kazakhstan, in north up to Chu valley, Chulak-Espe in Betpakdala desert (though subspecies not identified), Balkhash lake and Alakol depression. This subspecies intergrades with poltaratskyi between Alakol and Zaysan lakes (from this area the subspecies dzungaricus was described).

References

Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999. "Птицы Казахстана" том 5. "Наука". Алма-Ата, 1974. Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005 А.Ф.Ковшарь "Певчие птицы". Алма-Ата, "Кайнар", 1983.

supplement

subspecies

Sturnus vulgaris vulgaris
(Linnaeus, 1758)
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Sturnus vulgaris poltaratskyi
(Finsch, 1878)
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Sturnus vulgaris porphyronotus
(Sharpe, 1888)
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