The starling is a common species of bird that is roughly 8 inches long with black or dark brown plumage and a metallic sheen. Its feathers are sometimes speckled with white. Notably, the beak of the common starling is black in winter and yellow in summer. Young starlings have a brown or grey beak.
Starlings have short tails and a triangular-shaped wingspan. They also have a particularly loud birdsong which can prove disruptive in residential and urban areas.
In the UK, starling numbers are at their highest in autumn, due to their migration patterns. They will usually build their nests in tree holes or on buildings and will often take over nesting boxes.
During the winter, they will move into more densely populated areas where food and water is less scarce. There can be as many as 100,000 birds in a single starling flock, and when they roost, the noise and fouling produced is considerable.
During the breeding season, which usually begins in April, starlings will lay 4-6 eggs which hatch after 12 days of incubation. New-born starlings will become mature and independent after about three weeks in the nest. Ordinarily, only one brood is raised per year, but if the first is laid early, a second will sometimes follow.
Starlings are generally omnivorous, but mainly feed on insects during their breeding season and in the first few weeks of their lifecycles.