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a family of birds of the order Passeriformes. Sturnidae measure 18 to 43 cm in length and have straight bills. The tarsi are stout, with two small scales posterior to the tarso-metatarsus. The plumage is dense and often has a metallic gloss.
The 104 species of Sturnidae are found primarily in the Old World tropics and subtropics. The common starling (Sturnus vulgaris) has been introduced in North America. Sturnidae are primarily birds of forests; however, some species inhabit steppe and semidesert regions. Sturnidae nest in natural cavities and burrows, under rocks, and on buildings; several species build spherical nests with entry holes on the sides. The glossy starling (Aplonis metallica) builds a pendant nest. Sturnidae feed on small invertebrates and berries. There are eight species in the USSR: the common starling, rose-colored starling (Pastor roseus), myna (Acridotheres tristis). and, in the southeast, white-cheeked starling (Spodiopsar cineraceus), Daurian starling (Sturnia sturnina), and violet-backed starling (Sturnia philippensis); the Chinese starling (Sturnia sinensis) and hill myna (Eulabes religiosa) are irregular visitors.
The best-known member of the family Sturnidae is the common starling, found throughout the USSR as far east as Lake Baikal. This species nests in artificial nest boxes near human habitations, less frequently in natural cavities, and, in the south, in burrows. In the north it is migratory, large numbers of birds moving south for the winter. A clutch contains five or six greenish blue eggs. Incubation lasts 14 to 15 days; young birds fledge in three weeks. Starlings are useful birds to the extent they consume insects; in ranging for food, however, they cause some damage, eating sweet cherries, cherries, and grapes and spreading weed seeds—for example, Solanum seeds in cotton fields.
REFERENCESPtitsy Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 5. Moscow, 1954.
Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 5. Moscow, 1970.