There are 114 species of starlings and mynas in the songbird family Sturnidae in the Old World. The chunky European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) was introduced from Europe to New York City in 1890 and spread quickly across North America south of the Arctic. It arrived in Saskatchewan in 1938 and is now in almost all human-modified and open habitats in Saskatchewan. It has a short, square tail, pointed triangular wings, and straight pointed bill. All adults have black overall plumage with an iridescent sheen of green and purple, and yellow bills. In winter the new adult plumage shows white specks at feather tips, and the bill becomes gray in colour. Their song consists of groups of trilling melodies, clear whistles and twitters, and imitations of songs of other species. They use their bill to pry open grass and eat insects, grains and fruits. They are considered a pest species because they are aggressive competitors of bluebirds, woodpeckers and others for nest holes and they form huge foraging and roosting flocks. As a non-native species, it has no legal protection in Canada. Three species of mynas have also been released in North America but they have not been as successful.

Robert Warnock

Further Reading

Alsop, Fred J., III. 2002. Birds of Canada. New York: Dorling Kindersley.