Sturnus vulgaris

Sturnus vulgaris is the scientific name of the Common Starling. Its literal meaning is ‘Starling Common’. They are certainly common in my dad’s garden:

Starling - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

They are threatened elsewhere so they are a red listed bird:

RSPB - The Red List

Many people think they are black. Nothing could be further from the truth:

Starling - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Their iridescent green and purple plumage of the adults is wonderful as they strut around the lawn:

Starling - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The newly fledged juveniles are delicate shades of brown:

Starling - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The juveniles are always hungry:

Starling - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Their gape is enormous:

Starling - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

This juvenile is eating a piece of pizza:

Starling - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

As the adult transfers the food to the juvenile they both close their third eyelids – their nictitating membranes – so their eyes seem opaque. It’s a reflex action which helps protect their eyeballs. It reminds me of the way people close their eyes when they kiss:

Starling - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

When humans do it, though, it’s usually not to avoid pizza crumbs.

The juvenile closes its beak all too briefly:

Starling - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

And then it’s busy begging for food again. Children. They are always hungry.

If the Starling’s decline continues we may have to change their name. No longer Sturnus vulgaris, they might become Sturnus infrequens.

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