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Starlings are Noisy Birds
Everyone, whether they live in towns or in the countryside of Great Britain, has seen common starlings. Usually starlings seem to be black birds with light spots, but when seen in bright sunshine their plumage is shot with glossy blues, greens and purples. They are about 8.5 inches long. Their legs are yellowish-brown. Starlings are noisy birds, capable of uttering all kinds of sounds, from clicks and wheezes to warbles and whistles. They are clever at imitating the songs of birds and even the cries of other animals.
At night flocks of starlings settle down to roost together, some in wet, marshy areas where they cling to the stems of reeds, and others on trees or buildings. Thousands of starlings roost every evening on buildings in central London.
Being larger than most of the birds that visit gardens, starlings are able to bully them and to snatch their food away. They themselves eat many harmful insects, including wireworms, which they pick out of the soil with their beaks. They also eat grain and fruit, so they are sometimes regarded as a pest.
Starlings usually nest in holes in trees or buildings, but the untidy straw nests, lined with feathers, may also be found among stones, occasionally in haystacks and in ivy. Sometimes starlings turn other birds out of their nests. The hen starling lays five to seven pale blue eggs and the young birds are brown with whitish markings on their throats.
Common starlings live all over Europe and in many parts of northem Asia, and have a good many relatives. Among these is the rose-coloured starling or rose-coloured pastor, a beautiful bird with a rose-pink body, black head, tail and wings and a crest. This bird lives in southeast Europe, but it has often visited the British Isles.
The most entertaining birds of the starling family are the mynahs. The Indian house mynah, which has been introduced into Australia and New Zealand, is mostly brown, with a black head and white tail. It can be taught to talk, but the true talking mynahs, or grackles, live in southern India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Malaya and America.
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