Do Starlings Migrate? A Comprehensive Guide

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One of the planet’s most diversified and extensively dispersed bird families, the Sturnidae, includes 35 genera and 123 species of starlings. Starlings are found across Europe, Africa, and Asia, extending to Mongolia, India, and the Pacific region, which includes Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia. Although they are a varied and omnipresent species, do starlings migrate?

This is a naturally difficult issue to answer since the response varies depending on the specific species of starling, which is a result of their variety.

The northernmost starling species are found as far north as the Arctic Circle in the summer when they prefer to travel south into central Europe, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Africa. One such species is the familiar starling, which is a familiar sight here in the UK. Another very migratory species of starling is the Rosy starling. Nevertheless, a large number of starlings never migrate. Starlings that are dispersed further equatorward do not migrate.

The true diversity of the Starling family surprises a lot of people. While some starling species, like the Common or European starling, are quite successful and widely dispersed, others are well suited to their specialized settings and are found in very small numbers. Some starling species are almost completely different from one another.

Continue reading to find out more about starling migration patterns.

Starlings migrate when?

Starlings move in late August or early September, as summer is coming to an end. Because of this, starling murmurations start around October, when migratory birds from colder regions of Europe start to increase the number of starling populations in the UK.

Some starlings will likely settle in the Mediterranean, Middle East, Iberia, and North Africa as they continue their migration farther south. It’s unknown why certain starling populations migrate while others don’t, because if they continued south from the UK, there probably would be enough sites for them to roost.

The UK is home to numerous well-known starling roosting places where you’re more likely to view a murmuration, such as Shapwick Heath in Somerset. Nevertheless, once starlings do establish a roost, they are likely to stay there year after year.

Starlings move to where?

From their northernmost summer breeding sites, European or Common starlings usually move towards the UK and central Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Iberia, and North Africa. Since common starlings may successfully spend the winter in the UK, it may be a question of preference as opposed to need.

In winter, common starlings in the US and Canada migrate south, albeit not necessarily very far. Their behavior is similar.

It’s possible that some starling species that are already found further south don’t migrate at all. In the winter, only the northernmost species of starlings must migrate.

How far south do starlings fly?

Starlings may travel as far south as Iberia, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean, and as far north as Russia and Scandinavia. But the majority of starlings move as close to home as they can, typically not very far. This explains why a large number of Common or European starlings from northernmost Europe wind up in the UK.

Do starlings travel in unison?

A starling’s decision to migrate is mostly influenced by its location and the species to which it belongs. Due to their preference for temperatures that are at or above freezing throughout the winter, starlings in the UK tend to cram themselves into their roosts in large numbers.

The majority of starlings are non-migratory, stationary birds that live in their host nations. The primary exception is the European or Common starling, which can reproduce all the way up to the Arctic Circle.

UK winter starling numbers are high because migratory starlings may spend the winter as far north as the UK. Many go on southward, into the Middle East and Africa. Many resident Common starlings breed and spend the winter in the UK, never leaving the country.

Other outliers exist, such as the Rosy starling, whose numbers are growing in the UK over the summer. Due of their vigorous migration, rosy starlings typically spend the winter in South Asia and India.

However, the great majority of the 123 species of starlings are stationary and non-migratory.

Similar in nature, common starlings in North America typically only travel as far south as is necessary for them to be warm enough for the winter.

In winter, where do starling birds go?

Winter is when starlings go into their roosts. Birds may “bed down” in secure havens called roosts throughout the winter, often huddled together to maintain body heat.

A Common starling roost may house hundreds of thousands of birds, demonstrating the communal roosting habits of this bird species. Four hundred birds or more may cram themselves into one cubic meter! The best time to observe a starling murmuration in the UK is during the winter, when hundreds of birds whirl in a mass. They happen in October and last until March at the latest.

Dense woodlands, reed beds, and man-made buildings—the most famous of which is the abandoned Brighton West pier—are typical roosting locations.

Do starlings depart the United Kingdom?

Since the majority of Common starlings in the UK are resident birds, they do not travel here to spend the winter as roosters. Still, a small percentage are immigrants, having come to the UK from farther north, usually Scandinavia or Russia.

Though only starlings from northern Europe are known to go thus far south, some will likely continue south, maybe reaching the Mediterranean or North Africa. The majority stay in the UK. Common starlings have very irregular migratory habits, and when they do go, it’s usually for a short distance.

Does Canada produce migratory starlings?

Common starlings are not native to North America; they were purposely brought here in the 18th century.

While they do travel farther south over the winter, common starlings in North America and Canada usually do not make it to the southernmost states in the United States.

Are starlings moving to Africa?

Although Africa is home to several native starling species, a few populations of Common or European starlings and a few number of Rosy starlings spend the winter there.

I'm Nauman Afridi, the bird enthusiast behind My lifelong passion for birds has led me to create a space where fellow bird lovers can find valuable insights and tips on caring for our feathered friends.Professionally, I'm a brand strategist and digital marketing consultant, bringing a unique perspective to the world of bird care. Whether you're a novice or an experienced bird owner, is designed to be a welcoming community for all.Feel free to explore, and reach out if you have any questions or just want to chat about birds.
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