The unsung beauty of the winter garden: starlings in winter plumage are iridescent purple, green and silver, making them extremely attractive features on your garden feeder. They are smaller and slighter than blackbirds, with a yellow beak, speckled chest and red legs.
You can’t miss a flock of starlings, nor would you often see a single bird on its own. Highly sociable and gregarious creatures, starlings stay in large flocks of up to 100,000 birds throughout the winter and can often be heard whistling from television aerials and chimney pots.
During these colder months, they often form ‘murmurations’, which are swirling and undulating patterns in the sky as the birds twist and flock together. No one is quite sure why they do this: it could be to keep warm or ward off predators.
Although their high-numbered roosting groups and prevalence in our gardens might make them seem like a common bird, starling numbers have actually dropped by more than 70% in recent years, putting them high on the Red List of birds needing extra conservation work.