The winter this year lasted three weeks in January and of course wintering starlings were also seen. They were already moving in larger groups from the beginning of the month –probably arrivals from the south. The weather remained at temperatures above frost and for a long time there were winds from the south, favourable for migration.
The snow cover that recently fell in South Estonia reduced the opportunities for the early arrivals to find food; because of that also the visit on Monday to the birdfeeder by the starling, a bird extremely capable of learning – it was eating sunflower seeds as if this were its everyday routine.
The birdfeeder was visited by a male and he did not seem to be tormented by hunger. That the first starlings arrive in February has been a quite common phenomenon. Usually males that already have nested arrive first because starlings are extremely true to their nesting places. Arne has a number of nest boxes in his yard and if it is a bird from his yard it also uses “its own” box for the night.
What characteristics confirm whom we have to do with? The iris of males is uniformly brown, the iris of female starlings is surrounded by a narrow bright circle. The lower part of the beak of the individual in the video is bone-coloured but it can also be bluish or black, for the female a pinkish hue. The legs of starlings are pink. The winter plumage is dark, flecked in yellow; body length some twenty centimetres and the weight 70-80 grams.
The beautiful springtime breeding plumage of the starlings appears for the breeding season: golden beak, blackish plumage gleaming in iridiscent green and purple in sunlight.
If the weather should remain wintery, winds from the north will usually blow and the birds go back towards south to where the snow ends.