Family Starlings (Sturnidae)

Least Concern

Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)


French: Étourneau sansonnet German: Star Spanish: Estornino pinto
Other common names: European Starling

Sturnus vulgaris


, 1758,



Formerly considered conspecific with S. unicolor; genetic differentiation only slight#R#R, and some hybridization in area of breeding overlap in SW Europe, but vocal and plumage differences strong. Subspecies taxonomy complex, and requires more research. Race humii sometimes erroneously listed as indicus#R; latter name is unidentifiable, based on an alleged form in which bill never turns yellow at any age#R. Azores race granti possibly not worthy of recognition#R. Thirteen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. v. vulgaris Linnaeus, 1758 – Iceland E to Ural Mts, S to N & NE Spain, S Italy, SE Europe and N Ukraine, also on Canary Is; non-breeding also S throughout Iberia and to N Africa.
  • S. v. faroensis Feilden, 1872 – Faroe Is.
  • S. v. zetlandicus E. J. O. Hartert, 1918 – Outer Hebrides and Shetland Is.
  • S. v. granti E. J. O. Hartert, 1903 – Azores.
  • S. v. poltaratskyi Finsch, 1878 – E Ural Mts E to L Baikal, S to N & E Kazakhstan, N Kyrgyz Steppes and through N Dzungaria to Mongolia. Non-breeding in SW Asia to NW India.
  • S. v. tauricus Buturlin, 1904 – S & E Ukraine and Crimea E to S Russia (Stavropol), and Asia Minor (except E); non-breeding also Middle East.
  • S. v. caucasicus T. K. Lorenz, 1887 – Volga Delta, N Caucasus and E Transcaucasia, Azerbaijan, S Caspian Sea region and W & S Iran.
  • S. v. purpurascens Gould, 1868 – W Transcaucasia, E Turkey, Georgia and Armenia; non-breeding also Egypt.
  • S. v. oppenheimi Neumann, 1915 – SE Turkey and N Iraq.
  • S. v. porphyronotus Sharpe, 1888 – E Kazakhstan and extreme NW China (W Xinjiang) S to E Uzbekistan and Tajikistan; non-breeding N Indian Subcontinent.
  • S. v. nobilior A. O. Hume, 1879 – NE Iran, S Turkmenistan and N Afghanistan; non-breeding NW Indian Subcontinent.
  • S. v. humii W. E. Brooks, 1876 – W Himalayas (Kashmir and Punjab); non-breeding N Indian Subcontinent.
  • S. v. minor A. O. Hume, 1873 – Pakistan (Indus Valley).
  • Introduced and expanding populations elsewhere (North America, S Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Polynesia).

    Descriptive notes

    20–23 cm; 55–100 g. Medium-sized, short-tailed starling with crown and nape feathers lanceolate, throat feathers also lanceolate; plumage mostly blackish,... read more


    Male song, heard most of year (but rarely during moult), contains much variation and mimicry; male... read more


    Open country, including modified habitats, with access to suitable nesting and roosting sites;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Essentially omnivorous, diet including plant and animal material; much regional and seasonal variation, reflecting opportunistic response... read more


    Season mainly Mar–Jul, with later start and shorter season in N & E of range; often double-brooded, but usually single brood in N... read more


    Migratory in N & E of range; tends to be resident in S & W, and in some urban regions.... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to very common, and locally abundant. Considered one of the most abundant bird species in the world. Recent population... read more

    Recommended citation

    Craig, A. & Feare, C. (2020). Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 3 April 2020).