Jon Hawkins, Surrey Hills Photography

A murmuration of starlings

A murmuration of starlings - Guy Edwardes/2020VISION


Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris
The starling is a familiar garden visitor that has a beautiful purple-and-green sheen to its black feathers. It is famous for its wintry aerial displays - massive flocks can be seen wheeling over our towns and farmland.

Species information


Length: 22cm
Wingspan: 40cm
Weight: 78g
Average lifespan: 5 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2021). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

January to December


The starling is a familiar bird of farmland, parkland, gardens and towns. Sociable birds, starlings spend a lot of their time in large flocks, roosting and performing sweeping, aerial displays - they can often be seen moving fluidly through a wintry sky. starlings eat insects and fruit, and will visit birdtables and feeders. They make untidy nests in holes in trees or in buildings, in which the female lays five to seven eggs. Both parents raise the chicks.

How to identify

Adult starlings are a beautiful, oily black colour, with a purple and green sheen. In the winter, they are covered in tiny beige spots. Young starlings are dark grey-brown.



Did you know?

Enormous winter flocks of starlings can number more than a million birds! These flocks are predated upon by Peregrine Falcons, but the flock can be seen wheeling and diving as one great pattern as individuals try to avoid being caught.

How people can help

Whether you live in town or country, you can help to look after garden birds by providing food and water for them.


Starlings by Russell Savory