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Sturnidae, is one of the species of songbirds family, belonging to the order Passeriformes, which is in starlings and mynas, about 120 species of birds which have earned the reputation of being fun, but also aggressive. They are distributed all over the world. Oxpeckers, although at first considered close members of the Sturnidae, are now in their own family, the Buphagidae.

Description

The Sturnidae is not a bird native to Argentina: they are imported (and they certainly don’t bring papers!). Imported ones are said to be “exotic”, as opposed to native or native species. Therefore, it is a bug from other lands introduced in Argentina, brought by man and, perhaps, released from its cage, where it served as a pet.

These foreign species are not always able to find so far from their natural habitat, Europe, in this case, adequate food, shelter needs and animal breeding possibilities, and, therefore, any paved population (ie, “released”) soon disappeared in the wild. This certainly happened with other birds (canaries, for example) that simply “do not adapt”.

But the Sturnidae something to be found, and it is more: it ended up being a well adapted species, but some environments in certain parts of the country. Today there are starlings in Buenos Aires, La Plata and Santa Clara del Mar, near Mar del Plata. There they begin to be common, more than common, with a view to being later pests.

This is a new and recent phenomenon. In a few years (5 to 10 years around, say, 1995) Sturnidae populations are reproducing at an alarming rate. The projection is very dire: it is feared that the herd will spread to all corners of the country, will become a pest of choice for all types of cultures, and will also travel to many wild species of natural enclaves, thus compromising their survival.

The Sturnidae adapts to anything and is very aggressive. It takes advantage of both human resources and the diligent efforts of other species that it takes advantage of. Nature scenes were filmed, where a starling moves towards a pica-pau nest, a job that took weeks of work to build.

There are about 114 species of birds in this family of Sturnidae. They are native to Africa, Asia and Europe, but have been introduced to other parts of the world. They vary in size from 6-14 inches long. Birds in this order have long, cone-shaped beads; long, pointed wings with shiny, metallic-shiny feathers; and short tails. Most birds in this family flock together and are very noisy.

Most species forage on the ground and eat insects and seeds. European sturnidae were introduced to North America in the 1890s, when approximately 100 of them were released in Central Park, New York, by a group that wanted to establish in North America all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s play. Since then, the European star has spread to all parts of the United States, most of Canada and parts of northern Mexico. It is estimated that there are more than 200 million of them in North America.

Characteristics

The sturnidae are medium-sized passerine birds, with a compact body, pointed bill, short but strong legs and short tail. Their plumage is hard and silky, with metallic iridescence. On the wings they have 10 primary flocks. It is common to observe starlings in large groups, especially in the vicinity of urban areas during the winter. They spend a lot of time walking fast on the ground. Their diet is varied and they nest in tree caves. In our region we find only two species, the starling and the black starling.

Limbs range in size from 16.5 to 42 cm (6.5 to 16.5 inches) in length. They have slightly curved legumes, long pointed wings, and strong feet and legs. Starlings are typically dark in color, often with metallic sheen. Some have bare cradles or barbels or patches of bare skin. They talk continuously while in flight and when sleeping, often found in spectacular numbers.

In this regard, the common sturnid (Sturnus vulgaris) consumes large quantities of insects, but also feeds on grains and small fruits, severely competing with other desirable songbirds. Since their introduction to North America in 1890 (Central Park, New York), they have grown to such an extent that they are widely considered pests in and around cities.

Asian hill mynas (Gracula re ligiosa) are remarkable cage-talking birds. Several sturnidae are now extinct, most curiously the mystery starling (Malke Starling), not seen since 1774, when only one specimen collected somewhere in the Pacific.

In summer, the adult sturnidae has black plumage with violet and green metallic sheen and small white spots. Its bill is yellow and its tail appears short. Juveniles have darker legs and brown feathered suits with some faint streaks.

On the first of July, the youngest rub up and begin to acquire their adult plumage suit. As different parts of their feather suit move at different times, at the end of the summer it may appear that costume stripes appear, still light brown parts and other parts already blackish with white spots and metallic sheen typical of adult plumage.

In the summer there is a dark and dark plumage covered with yellowish white spots. The legs of the sturnidae are reddish brown. The bill is lemon yellow during the breeding season, and the base is grayish blue in males or pink in females. Juveniles and birds in winter attire have brown blouses. The general body of males are dark brown, but females have brown irises with a narrow yellowish-white ring.

Sturnidae begin to form flocks from mid-summer. The size of the flocks can increase to thousands of birds. Migrae Day. Leaves Finland from September to November and from March to April returns. Winter in nearby North Sea countries, sometimes even in Finland.

Breeds close neighborhoods in all regions of Finland, but little in Lapland. Finnish coverage is estimated at 30,000 to 60,000 pairs. Their numbers have declined recently.

Taxonomy

Among the history of this bird we can find many hypotheses about its discovery, although the most established says that it was described for the first time in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae under the current binomial name. The words Sturnidae vulgaris and (Latin) correspond to nouns “starlings” and “common” respectively. The Latin word sturnus is derived from an unknown Indo-European root dating from the second millennium BC.

The starling family Sturnidae is a group whose original distribution with no introductions on other continents confined to the Old World, with the greatest number of species in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The genus is polyphyletic and Sturnus sturnus relationships among its members are not completely resolved. The closest relative of the starling is the black starling.

The initially migrating, black Sturnidae species of this type is not the descendant of an ancestral population of Sturnidae. vulgaris that survived the Ice Age in a refugium on the Iberian Peninsula, and mitochondrial genetic studies suggest that it could be considered a subspecies of the latter.

There is more genetic variation between different populations of starlings than between the so-called black Starling and Sturnidae. Although remains of S. vulgaris dating from the Middle Pleistocene were identified, lack of fossil record of the family Sturnidae as a whole makes it difficult to resolve the relationships among its members.

Habitat

Starlings inhabit a wide range of habitats from the Arctic Circle to the equator. In fact, the only habitat they do not normally occupy is the drier sandy desert. The family is naturally absent from the Americas and most of Australia, but is present in most of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Aplonis sex has also been widely dispersed throughout the Pacific Islands reaching Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia (also a species of the genus Mino reached the Solomon Islands).

It is also a species of this genus that is the only starling found in northern Australia.Asian species are more common in evergreen forests; 39 species found in Asia are predominantly raptors, compared to 24 found in more open or modified human environments.

In contrast to this, African species are more likely to be found in open forests and savannas; 33 species are experts in open areas compared to 13 true forest species. The great diversity of species found in Asia and Africa does not correspond to Europe, which has widespread (and very common) species and two more restricted species. (see article: Phoenicurus phoenicurus).

The European starling is widespread and extremely habitat catholic, occupying most open habitat types. Like many other starling species, it also readily adapted to human-modified habitats, including agricultural land, orchards, plantations, and urban areas.

Some Starling species are migratory, either entirely, such as the Shelley’s starling, which breeds in Ethiopia and northern Somalia and migrates to Kenya and southern Somalia, or the white-winged Starling, which is migratory in part, but resides in others.

Feeding

The Sturnidae are generally a highly social family. Most species are associated in bands of different sizes throughout the year. A band of starlings is called a murmuration. These flocks may include other starling species and sometimes species from other families. This sociability is particularly evident in their sandwiching behavior; In the non-breeding season, some wells may count among thousands of birds.

Sturnidae diets are generally dominated by fruits and insects. Many species are important seed dispersers on the continents of Asia and Africa, e.g., white sandalwood, Indian Banyan. In addition to trees, they are also important dispersers of visco-parasites. In Southern Africa, the red-winged starling is an important disperser of the introduced acacia cyclamen.

Starlings were observed to feed on fermenting ripe fruit, leading to speculation that they might be poisoned by alcohol. Laboratory experiments in European starlings have been found to have elimination enzymes that allow them to break down alcohol very quickly.

In addition to consuming fruit, many starlings also consume nectar. It is not known to what extent starlings are important pollinators, but at least some are, such as the slender-billed starling of eastern alpine Africa, which pollinates giant lobelia.

Most often insects, berries and seeds. The diet is quite varied. It occurs mainly on insects when available, especially beers, grasshoppers, flies and larvae, as well as spiders, snails, worms and other invertebrates.Especially in autumn and winter, eat a variety of berries, fruits and seeds. Sometimes looks for flowers to consume their nectar. Dense bird feeders looking for different foods.

Reproduction

The male establishes his territory and chooses the next spot, crowing to attract the female. When a female arrives, the rooster hangs next to the living and crows, usually clutching his wings. Some males have more than one mate. Nest: he builds it in a few cavities; usually in a natural hollow or spit hole in a tree, in aviaries, or (in the southwest) in groves of giant cacti.

Sometimes in holes or cracks in buildings or other strange places. The male is the one who starts the construction of the nest, and usually the female finishes it, which discards some of the material that the male placed in the beginning. The nest usually consists of a loose mass of small branches, weeds, grass, leaves, debris and feathers, with a small hollow to lay the eggs.

Undoubtedly, it had a negative impact on some native nesting specimens in certain species, such as sialies and blonde woodpeckers, against those competing for nesting sites. Cities, parks, farms, open woodlands and fields. Most commonly seen at a more numerous level, in agricultural fields and in suburbs and cities, but lives in almost any type of populated habitat.

It is generally scarce or absent in extensive wilderness areas of forest, bush or desert, but breeds around buildings or settlements in the midst of such habitats. Often even considered a pest, the European starling is to be admired for its adaptability, aggressive attitude and apparent intelligence.

They mate mainly on the ground, in open areas, often exploring the ground with their mouthparts. Sometimes feeds on fruits above trees and takes flying insects in the air. Usually forages in flocks.

Breeding

Sporadically small numbers of starlings in Japan and Hong Kong recorded, but it is unclear where these birds originated. In North America, northern populations developed a migration pattern, vacating much of Canada in the winter. Birds in the eastern part of the country move south, and those in the western winter into the southwestern United States.

Sturnidae birds prefer urban or suburban areas where artificial structures and trees provide suitable boars and roosts. Reds also favor roosting and the birds often forage in pastures such as fields, meadows, playing fields, golf courses and airstrips where short grass facilitates foraging.

They sometimes live in open woodlands and forests, and are sometimes found in thickets such as Australian heathlands. Common starlings rarely survive dense rainforests (i.e., tropical and sclerophyll forests), but they live in coastal areas, where they nest and roost on rocks in search of food among the algae.

Its ability to adapt to a variety of habitats has led to the spread and establishment of the species in different parts of the world and resulted in a wide range of habitats ranging from coastal wetlands to alpine forests, coastal mountain cliff areas up to 1,900 meters above sea level.

The European population is estimated at 23-56 million pairs, and of these, 400,000 to 1,200,000 pairs are in Spain. Populations in southern and western Europe are resident, i.e. they do not migrate, while populations in northeastern Europe are migratory and winter in southern and western Europe. There are several subspecies of European starlings in Europe.

In Spain is the subspecies vulgaris, establishing breeding populations in Catalonia, Navarra, Basque Country and Cantabrian coast of Asturias. In the northern highlands, Valencia, Ebro Valley, Tenerife and Gran Canaria, you can also arrive in time to find breeding populations of starlings.

However, in the winter Starling populations occupy the entire Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands, due to the arrival of migratory starling populations from central and northern Europe. Starlings tend to feed in agricultural or semi-urban areas and spend the night in urban areas.

Some predators of the Sturnidae

Adult starlings are predated by hawks such as Açor and Gavião, and falcons including slower peregrine falcons, European Alcotan Raptors and the francel. Such as the black stepmother, the parrots, the vultures, the sharks and the pacific pacific swamp, tend to prey on young birds whose capture is generally easier. the common mynah sometimes expels eggs, chicks and adult stirrups nest, and the indicator-faced, a parasitic start, served sneeze as host.

Nests can be invaded by species capable of walking into them, such as stoats or stoats, squirrels and raccoons, and cats can catch the unwary. Painted starlings are hosts to a variety of parasites. In a study of three hundred European starlings in the United States, all of them were found to have at least one type of parasite; 99% had external parasites, such as fleas, mites or ticks, and 95% had internal parasites, mainly different types of worms.

The blood-sweating species leave their host when they die, but other external parasites remain in the body. A bird with a deformed beak was infested with Mallophaga lice, probably due to its inability to eliminate the parasites.

Flea chicks (Ceratophyllus gallinae) is the most common flea in their nests. Sometimes, the little pardales little flea Ceratophyllus fringillae is also found there, which is probably due to the habit of starlings to take advantage of the nests of other species. This flea is not found in the United States, even in the American population of the house sparrow.

Some curiosities about this bird

Sturnidae starlings are gregarious birds, that is, they flock together in large flocks of hundreds or even thousands of individuals. The most common starburst is Sturnidae (Sturnidae vulgaris). It has a length of about 21-23 centimeters, an open-winged wingtip of about 37-42 centimeters, and a weight of 60-100 grams.

  • Sturnidae will eat almost anything

Sturnidae have a complete diet, which means they can feed on almost anything. What most people like are insects and fruits, but also seeds and cereals. Being gregarious birds, they generally feed in more or less extensive groups. Large concentrations can reach olive crops or fruit trees.

  • They can change the color of their feathers according to each season

Sturnidae specimens are robust birds, short, square legs, reddish legs and pointed bill, yellow in the breeding season and dark the rest of the year. Adults have different spring suits in summer and winter.

The summer summer suit is black, with iridescent purple and green, and in winter an intense light massage is present. There is a small sexual dimorphism. Females have a lower iridescent sheen and more white spots on the belly part.

The bill, which in adults changes color in December, takes on a lemon-yellow color, has a pink base in females and in males a grayish blue color. In addition, the iris of the iris is uniform dark brown in males, while females in females are brown with a lighter outer or inner rim. Juveniles have a uniform grayish-brown feather, with no disturbing sheen or light spots. (see article: Birds of Spain).

  • They build their nests anywhere

They build nests in any hole or crevice they find: inside or outside buildings, under roof tiles, attics, in tree holes, walls, cracks in rocks and even supports nests of other birds. Females lay 4-7 eggs, uniform white or blue, which are mainly incubated by the female.

In 11-13 days the small chicks hatch, which feed exclusively on insects caught by their parents. Reproduction is carried out mainly by the female, although the male also participates. In 21 days the young leave the nest, gathering bands of young starlings. They can arrive up to twice a year.