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Starlings In North America, Importance Of Starlings

Starlings are robust, stocky song birds in the family Sturnidae. They have a stout beak and strong legs, and are included with other perching birds in the order Passeriformes. There are about 110 species of starlings, whose natural range includes Eurasia, Africa, the Pacific islands, and Australia. Starlings are small- to medium-sized birds, ranging in body length from about 4-17 in (10-43 cm), and are mostly found in forests, shrubby woodlands, and urban and suburban habitats. Starlings tend to be fast, direct fliers. Most species form flocks during the non-breeding season, and most northern species are migratory to some degree. Their songs are A flock of starlings swarming telephone poles. Photograph by Richard R. Hansen. Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.
usually inventive and consist of garrulous chatters of whistles, squeaks, and imitated sounds. Starlings feed widely on small invertebrates and fruits. Most species nest in cavities in trees or rocks, and both sexes cooperate in the feeding and rearing of the young.

Most species of starlings, including the mynah bird, are distributed in tropical regions. Some of these are extremely beautiful birds. In Africa, for example, some of the most attractive bird species are starlings, with their brilliant metallic-green, blue, purple, and violet plumage. Notable are the long-tailed glossy starling (Lamprotornis caudtus), the chestnut-bellied starling (Spreo pulcher), and the superb starling (Spreo super-bus). The African starlings also include the oxpeckers (Buphagus), which glean ticks and blood-sucking flies off the back of large mammals.

Many species of starlings are endangered because of the widespread destruction of their natural habitat (tropical forest, savanna, or shrubland). For example, the beautifully white Rothschild's mynah (Leucospar rothschildi) of Bali, Indonesia, is endangered because its natural forest has been extensively cleared and converted into agricultural use.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Spectroscopy to Stoma (pl. stomata)