Hihi volunteer needed

Date posted: 18-Oct-2018

Would you like to volunteer with the Island's hihi team and learn from them how ..

2019 Calendars now available

Date posted: 05-Sep-2018

The new 2019 calendars are now available and this year's is better than ever! Th..

Winners of kokako photo competition

Date posted: 02-Sep-2018

The stunning winning photographs from those submitted to the competition as part..

Kokako Celebration

Date posted: 21-Jul-2018


Kokako Photographic Competition

Date posted: 20-Jul-2018

KĊŒKAKO PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION Celebrating 21 years on Tiritiri Matangi To ce..

New monitoring reports published

Date posted: 19-Jul-2018

Reports on monitoring studies carried out over the past year have now been poste..

2018 Concert coming up soon

Date posted: 15-Feb-2018

Our 2018 concert will feature an afternoon of light classics and jazz courtesy of the Auckland Ph..

Wetapunga talk coming soon

Date posted: 05-Feb-2018

For the Social on 19 March the speaker will be Ben Goodwin of Auckland Zoo, who will talk about t..

Rat caught and now takahe released from pens

Date posted: 28-Jan-2018

Thankfully DOC staff Andre de Graaf and Polly Hall and their assistants have trapped the rat whic..

Your Christmas Shopping for a Song

Date posted: 04-Dec-2017

Aka - The Grand Christmas Shopping Expedition to Tiritiri Matangi Island Shop Dreading..


Scientific name:

 Sturnus vulgaris



Conservation status:

 Introduced and naturalised

Mainland status:

 Locally abundant


 21cm, 85g 


 14+ years possibly


 October - January


 Invertebrates, fruit and nectar

Starling - photographer: Max McRaeIntroduced into New Zealand between 1862 and 1883 and now abundant throughout the mainland and suitable offshore islands in farmland, orchards, gardens, forest edges and beaches.

The breeding plumage is glossy black with a purple sheen on the head and breast, and a dark green sheen and buff spangling on the wings and abdomen.  The bill is pointed and, in the breeding season, is yellowish with a bluish base in the male and a pinkish base in the female. When not breeding the head and body is spotted buff and white and the bill is dark. The call is a descending whistle: ‘cheeoo’, and the song is a rambling collection of clicks, rattles, warbles and gargles interspersed with musical whistles.  They are good mimics.

Starlings feed and roost in large flocks, and are well-known for their spectacular pre-roosting flights in huge flocks, which twist and turn and often resemble smoke against the sky. On teh ground, their waddling, jerky walk is rather distinctive and the birds feed by jabbing their bills into the soil. Their diet is a mix of invertebrates such as grass grubs, caterpillars, moths, worms, snails and spiders, and fruit and nectar from flax and pohutukawa flowers.

Breeding takes place between October and January. The nest is a cup of dry grass, twigs and leaves built in tree holes, crevices in cliffs and in buildings and garden nest boxes. Clutches of 3–5 clear pale blue eggs are incubated by both parents for 11 days. Both parents feed the chicks until they fledge at 18–20 days and often continue to feed them for 1–2 weeks after they leave the nest.

Starlings breed and roost on Tiritiri Matangi; flocks of several hundred often arrive from the mainland around dusk.

Learn more about the starling at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photography by:  Max McRae ©

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking.
Moon, G The Reed Field Guide to New Zealand Birds.