Sturnidae – Starlings

Widespread medium-sized passerine birds often considered invasive species

Encompassing starlings and mynas, it is a cosmopolitan assemblage of birds that inhabit a wide range of environments across the globe. These birds are renowned for their vocal abilities, with some species, like the European Starling, able to mimic an array of sounds, including human-made noises and the complex calls of other birds.

Starlings are particularly noted for their striking plumage, which can be glossy and iridescent or feature spots and speckles that change with the seasons. The plumage is a visual spectacle and serves practical purposes such as camouflage, attracting mates, and signaling social status within their groups.

As omnivores, starlings have a broad diet that allows them to adapt to various habitats and food sources. They feed on a diet rich in insects, earthworms, fruits, and seeds. Their foraging behavior is beneficial to the environment as they control pest populations and contribute to seed dispersal, aiding in plant propagation.

However, the adaptability of starlings also means they can form large, gregarious flocks that are known to cause significant damage to agricultural crops. In some regions, they are considered invasive species, outcompeting native birds for resources and nesting sites.

Starlings are not just rural dwellers; they have successfully adapted to urban environments, where they can be seen foraging in parks and gardens. Their ability to thrive in human-altered landscapes has led to their spread across continents, particularly the European Starling in North America, where it was introduced in the late 19th century.

Despite their sometimes negative reputation, starlings and mynas have an undeniable allure. Their social nature and intelligence make them appealing to birdwatchers and aviculturists alike. Some species, particularly mynas, are highly sought after as pets due to their ability to mimic human speech.