Spotless Starling

The Spotless Starling, Sturnus unicolor, also known as the European Starling, is a common bird species found in Europe, North Africa, and western Asia.

Physical Description

The Spotless Starling is a medium-sized bird, measuring around 20 cm in length and weighing between 70-100 grams. It has a glossy black plumage with a metallic purple-green sheen, and its bill is yellow in the breeding season and dark in the non-breeding season. Unlike other starling species, the Spotless Starling generally does not have spots on its plumage, hence its name. However, very small pale spots do appear in winter plumage, these being formed by the pale tips of the feathers. It also differs in having longer throat feathers which are particularly obvious when the bird is singing.

Throat feathers of singing bird…

Spotless Starling, Nerja

Habitat and Range

The Spotless Starling is found throughout most of Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. It prefers open habitats such as farmlands, grasslands, and urban areas, where it can find food and nesting sites. In some areas, such as the Iberian Peninsula, it is a common sight in cities and towns.

Pale spots in winter…

Spotless Starling with spots

Diet and Behaviour

The Spotless Starling feeds mainly on insects and other invertebrates, such as earthworms, snails, and spiders. It is also known to eat fruits and seeds, particularly in the winter when insects are scarce. Unlike other bird species, the Spotless Starling is not migratory and is active throughout the year.

Spotless Starling

Spotless Starlings are social birds and are often seen in large flocks, particularly during the non-breeding season. They are known for their vocalizations, which include a variety of whistles, chatters, and mimicry of other bird species. They are also known to be aggressive towards other birds, particularly during the breeding season when they defend their nesting territory.

Nerja, Spotless Starling

Unlike the Common Starling, the spotless variety is a ‘walker’ rather than a ‘hopper’.

Conservation Status

The Spotless Starling is not considered a threatened species and has a stable population throughout its range. However, like many bird species, it is affected by habitat loss and fragmentation, particularly in urban areas. In some areas, it is also hunted for food and sport.

Spotless Starling in Nerja
Flock of Spotless Starlings