An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

European Starling

European starling IMG_8398There was no fooling the vast majority of Naturally Curious readers! As unpopular as the European Starling may be, its plumage is impressive, especially at this time of year. The starling’s summer, or breeding, plumage shows purple and greenish iridescence, especially on the head, back, and breast. Following the annual mid-summer/fall molt, most head and body feathers have whitish or buff terminal spots. Through the winter, most of these light spots gradually wear away to produce a glossy black appearance in the spring.

Most creative Mystery Photo response (from Steve Adams): “ This one’s easy. The bird is Hazel Hainsworth. She was sweet but insane. Hazel had a huge hat made of all different kinds of feathers, and because she liked her scotch, her navigation skills were somewhat dull, and she always made a point of telling people she’d been lost in every state in the nation, including Alaska.”

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12 responses

  1. Roseanne Saalfield

    Mary I missed y ou after all and you were so close, in Harvard on Wednesday night We ate early on purpose and polished off the leftovers so we could be front and center at the library And then we did an old New England thing and fell asleep over our (digital) newspapers by our new woodstove When we woke it was too late to rush down to the library without the risk of having missed too much.

    I hope you return to Harvard soon or to someplace near me. I will shake your hand again and hear your talk yet

    Happy Thanksgiving to you….


    November 21, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    • Not to worry, Roseanne. You’ve been so supportive, I felt your presence!

      November 21, 2014 at 1:15 pm

  2. Fifi Ball

    Why are European Starlings unpopular? (Sorry if answer is obvious to most.)

    November 21, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    • Hi Fifi,
      Starlings are considered pests by many, mostly because they are very noisy and travel around in large flocks, so are hard to ignore. They are also fairly aggressive and have been known to drive other birds from nest sites that they want to use.

      November 21, 2014 at 1:14 pm

  3. Penny March

    They also belong to an enormous family…some of which are drab, others spectacular..the Hildebrandt,s starling is very showy!!

    November 21, 2014 at 1:46 pm

  4. Nancy

    In response to Fifi – The European Starling is a primary cause of the decline in the American Kestrel population here in the Eastern US because of competition for cavity nests. I heard a talk by Tom Sayer of the Northeast Connecticut Kestrel Project who is working to remedy that.

    November 21, 2014 at 4:28 pm

  5. Must know more about Steve Adams…..

    November 21, 2014 at 5:12 pm

  6. Hahahahaha! Thanks for including Steve’s response.

    November 21, 2014 at 10:09 pm

  7. Susan Peters

    Naturally Curious readers may be interested in the wonderful true stpru, Arnie, the Darling Starling, by Margarete Sigl Corbo and Diane Marie Barras

    November 22, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    • Susan Peters

      that should read “story,” not “stpru!”

      November 22, 2014 at 4:39 pm

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