Saturday, 1 September 2012


Starlings are bold, aggressive noisy birds which can be found throughout Shetland. The Shetland starling
( Sturnus Vulgaris Zetlandicus) is one of 11 species found throughout Europe and Asia.

40 Million of starlings have vanished in Europe since 1980 and is a Red List species, however there is an estimate 20,000 pairs found in the isles.

At a distance starlings look black, but when seen a bit closer they have a iridescent sheen of purple and green. Shetland starlings are slightly larger and have a larger bill although all this is difficult to observe in the field. Also the juvenile starling is much darker than the common starling.
                                          Juv starlings

After the young leave the nest they move to permanent pasture, which is the preferred habitat to feed. In mid - late June I have found 100's of birds feeding in fields above Quendale mill.

In Shetland, starlings are mainly sedentary, although some migration can be found. In winter some European starlings can be found as the migrate through the isles , moving to Scotland leaving the local starling in attendance, mainly feeding around crofts.

It's a great sight to see large flocks of starlings gather, these are called murmurations. It seems along time ago that I saw one of these in Sheffield. It was estimated that about 200, 000 birds gathered for a roost in the early 1980's. Elsewhere I have also come across large flocks common starlings moving around like large swarms of insects.

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