Dressed to impress

Whilst the huge migratory flocks of Starlings that form the incredible winter murmurations have long since returned to their summer homes, there are still plenty of resident Starlings who live and breed in the UK year round.

As summer approaches the Starlings here in Aberystwyth have now lost their winter covering of white speckles, and their beak changed from drab, to a bright vibrant yellow.

Apart from this striking bill, the Starlings appears to be all black from a distance, but as their feathers catch the light their plumage reveals a dazzling display of glossy greens and purples. These colours are not caused by pigment but by iridescence, which alters the wavelength of light falling on the feathers.

Starling in breeding plumage

Both male and female Starlings have identical plumage however there is a subtle way to tell the sexes apart. Looking closely at the white base of the bill, you can see this has a very subtle hint of colour which is blueish in male birds, and pink in females.

This bird below is a male, and has erected his feathers to look even more dazzling and impressive to a potential mate.

Male starling

This individual is a female bird and still has a few white flecks on her underside.

Female starling

Usually quite skittish, I have tried and failed on several occasions to capture good photographs of the Starlings this year. Today however, as the sun shone bright and warm overhead, the Starlings were more relaxed and I was able to get close to them and watch the foraging for invertebrates among the daisies.


All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2018 ©

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