New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..

More kiwi for the Island

Date posted: 04-Apr-2017

In 1993 and 1995, sixteen little spotted kiwi were released on Tiritiri Matangi Island. The ma..

2017 Photo Competition

Date posted: 22-Mar-2017

It is that time of year again when we are looking for entries for our photo competition (and phot..

The 2017 concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2017

This year's concert promises to be another wonderful and unique experience. Click here (/concert-..

Shorebird Film Festival at Devonport

Date posted: 26-Oct-2016

Click here (/miscellaneous documents/DevWaderFilms.jpg) for details of a forthcoming film festival c..

Extra Dawn Chorus Trip

Date posted: 20-Oct-2016

Stop Press: Extra Dawn Chorus trip now scheduled for Thursday 27th October 2016. ..

2016 AGM

Date posted: 06-Sep-2016

The 2016 AGM was held at the Kohia Centre at 7:30 pm on Monday 19th September. Click here (/..

Starling

Scientific name:

 Sturnus vulgaris

 

 

Conservation status:

 Introduced and naturalised

Mainland status:

 Locally abundant

Size:

 21cm, 85g 

Lifespan:

 14+ years possibly

Breeding:

 October - January

Diet:

 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.