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BTO Blueline
STARLING
Sturnus vulgaris
Starling © Colin Varndell
 

• Population
  changes

• Productivity
  trends

• Additional
  information

Conservation listings
Europe: SPEC category 3 (declining)
UK: red (species level, race vulgaris); amber (race zetlandicus, >20% of European breeders)
UK Biodiversity Action Plan: priority species
Long-term trend
England: rapid decline
UK population size
804,000 territories in 2000 (1988–91 Atlas estimate updated using CBC/BBS trend: BiE04, APEP06); 8,500,000 birds in Britain in 1994–2000 (Robinson et al. 2005a)
Status summary
The abundance of breeding Starlings in the UK has fallen rapidly, particularly since the early 1980s, and especially in woodland (Robinson et al. 2002, 2005a) and continues to be strongly downward. The declines have been greatest in the south and west of Britain; recent BBS data suggest that populations are also decreasing in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the trends were initially upward. The species' UK conservation listing has been upgraded from amber to red as the decline has become more severe. Strong improvements have occurred in breeding performance, suggesting that decreasing survival rates, particularly of young birds, may be responsible for the observed decline (Freeman et al. 2002, 2007b). Loss of permanent pasture, which is the species' preferred feeding habitat, and general intensification of livestock rearing are likely to be having adverse effects on rural populations, but other causes should be sought in urban areas (Robinson et al. 2002, 2005a). As the population has dropped, the numbers of fledglings per breeding attempt has increased markedly; clutches are now larger, and rates of nest loss have fallen. Widespread declines in northern Europe during the 1990s outweighed increases in the south, and the European status of this species is no longer considered 'secure' (BirdLife International 2004). Overall, there has been widespread rapid decrease across Europe since 1980 (PECBMS 2010).
 
CBC/BBS England graph

1967-2008: -85% (confidence interval -89% to -80%)

 
Population changes in detail
 

 Demographic trends

Fledglings per breeding attempt graph


      1968-2008 increase from 2.86 to 4.17 fledglings per attempt
Laying date graph


         1968-2008 mean laying date advanced
from
27 April to 22 April

 
 
More on demographic trends
 
Additional information


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This report should be cited as: Baillie, S.R., Marchant, J.H., Leech, D.I., Renwick, A.R., Joys, A.C., Noble, D.G., Barimore, C., Conway, G.J., Downie, I.S., Risely, K. & Robinson, R.A. (2010). Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside: their conservation status 2010. BTO Research Report No. 565. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends)

Pages maintained by Iain Downie, Mandy T Andrews and Laura Smith: Last updated 25.01.2011