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From today's featured article

Colourful starling in profile

The common starling is a medium-sized perching bird in the starling family, Sturnidae. It is about 20 cm (8 in) long and has glossy black plumage, which is speckled with white at some times of year. The legs are pink and the bill is black in winter and yellow in summer; young birds have browner plumage than the adults. It is a noisy bird, especially in communal roosts, with an unmusical but varied song. The starling has about a dozen subspecies breeding in open habitats across its native range in temperate Europe and western Asia, and it has been introduced elsewhere. This bird is resident in southern and western Europe and southwestern Asia, while northeastern populations migrate south and west in winter. The starling builds an untidy nest in a natural or artificial cavity in which four or five glossy, pale blue eggs are laid. These take two weeks to hatch and the young remain in the nest for another three weeks. The species is omnivorous, taking a wide range of invertebrates, as well as seeds and fruit. The starling's gift for mimicry has been noted in literature including the medieval Welsh Mabinogion and the works of Pliny the Elder and William Shakespeare. (Full article...)

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Today's featured picture

Little wattlebird

The little wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera) is a passerine bird in the honeyeater family. First described in 1802, this bird is found in coastal and sub-coastal south-eastern Australia. It uses its long, brush-tipped tongue to feed on nectar; this wattlebird may also eat insects, berries and some seeds.

Photograph: JJ Harrison

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