Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds in the family Sturnidae.
There are about 114 species of starlings; the best-known species is Sternus vulgaris, the common starling.
The average lifespan is from 2 to 12 years or more, depend on the species.
Starlings occur naturally in the Old World, from Europe, Asia and Africa, to northern Australia and the islands of the tropical Pacific.
Starlings inhabit a wide range of habitats from the Arctic Circle to the Equator. In fact the only habitat they do not typically occupy is the driest sandy deserts.
Several European and Asian species have been introduced to these areas as well as North America, Hawaii and New Zealand, where they generally compete for habitats with native birds and are considered to be invasive species.
Many Asian species, particularly the larger ones, are called mynas, and many African species are known as glossy starlings because of their iridescent plumage.
There are approximately 200 million starlings in North America, they are all descendants of 60 birds released in 1890 (and 40 more in 1891) in Central Park, New York, by Eugene Schieffelin. He was a member of the Acclimation Society of North America, which tried to introduce to North America every bird species mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare.
The shortest-bodied species is Kenrick’s starling (Poeoptera kenricki), at 15 centimeters (6 in), but the lightest-weight species is Abbott’s starling (Poeoptera femoralis), which is 34 grams (1.2 oz).
The largest starling, going on standard measurements and perhaps weight, is the Nias hill myna (Gracula robusta) which measure up to 36 cm (14 in) and, in domestication they can weigh up to 400 g (14 oz).
The longest species in the family is the white-necked myna (Streptocitta albicollis), which can measure up to 50 cm (20 in), although around 60% in this magpie-like species is comprised by its very long tail.
The plumage of the starling is often brightly colored due to iridescence; this color is derived from the structure of the feathers, not from any pigment.
Starlings have strong feet, their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious (social).
They frequently form large flocks, called murmurations, which may move in synchrony in order to avoid predators.
Very large roosts, sometimes up to 1.5 million birds, can form in city centers, woodlands, or reedbeds, causing problems with their droppings.
Some species of starling are migratory, either entirely, or in part of its range but is resident in others.
The diets of the starlings are usually dominated by fruits and insects. Many species are important dispersers of seeds in continents Asia and Africa.
Starlings have diverse and complex vocalizations and have been known to embed sounds from their surroundings into their own calls, including car alarms and human speech patterns. The birds can recognize particular individuals by their calls and are the subject of research into the evolution of human language.
Most species nest in holes, laying blue or white eggs. A clutch will consist of four or five eggs which take 12 days to incubate. The chicks fledge after 21 days.