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 Sturnus vulgaris

Key facts

Conservation listings: Europe: SPEC category 3 (declining) (BiE04)
UK: red (species level, race vulgaris); amber (race zetlandicus, >20% of European breeders) (BoCC3)
UK Biodiversity Action Plan: priority species
Long-term trend: England: rapid decline
Population size: 804,000 territories in 2000 (1988-91 Atlas estimate updated using CBC/BBS trend: BiE04, APEP06); 8,500,000 birds in Britain in 1994-2000 (Robinson et al. 2005a)

Migrant status Resident Nesting habitat Cavity nester
Primary breeding habitat Farmland Secondary breeding habitat
Breeding diet Animal Winter diet Vegetation

Status summary

The abundance of breeding Starlings in the UK has fallen rapidly, particularly since the early 1980s, and especially in woodland (Robinson et al. 2002, 2005a) and continues to be strongly downward. The declines have been greatest in the south and west of Britain; recent BBS data suggest that populations are also decreasing in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the trends were initially upward. The species' UK conservation listing has been upgraded from amber to red as the decline has become more severe. Widespread declines in northern Europe during the 1990s outweighed increases in the south, and the European status of this species is no longer considered 'secure' (BirdLife International 2004). Overall, there has been widespread moderate decrease across Europe since 1980 (PECBMS 2011a).

CBC/BBS England graph

Population changes in detail

Demographic trends

Clutch graph
Brood graph

More on demographic trends

Causes of change

There is good evidence that changes in first-year overwinter survival rates best account for observed population change. Although direct evidence explaining the ecological drivers behind this is lacking, changes in the management of pastoral farmland are thought to be largely responsible.

Change factor Primary driver Secondary driver
Demographic Decreased juvenile survival
Ecological Unknown

Further information on causes of change
Species references