Sturnus

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Sturnus
Star Sturnus vulgaris.jpg
European starling,
Sturnus vulgaris vulgaris
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Sturnidae
Genus: Sturnus
Linnaeus, 1758
Species

see text

Synonyms

Temenuchus (but see Systematics)

Sturnus is a genus of starlings. As discussed below, the taxonomy of this group is complex, and other authorities differ considerably in which species they place in this genus, and in the species boundaries within Sturnus.

This genus has representatives across most of Eurasia and one species, the European starling, has been introduced to South Africa, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

The Sturnus starlings are terrestrial species; they walk rather than hop, and have modifications to the skull and its muscles for open-bill probing. The latter adaptation has facilitated the spread of this genus from humid tropical southern Asia to cooler regions of Europe and Asia.

The more northerly breeding species are completely or partially migratory, wintering in warmer regions.

Sturnus starlings nest in holes in trees or buildings. They are omnivorous and mostly feed on the ground; they specialise in taking invertebrates from just below the surface. This is facilitated by the head adaptations mentioned above, which enable the birds to probe with the bill open, closing it to secure prey items.

The plumages within this group are variable, but all the species have the starling's familiar triangular wing shape.

Systematics[edit]

The European (the type species) and spotless starlings are particularly closely related, and interbreed to some extent where their ranges overlap in southwestern France and northeastern Spain. The non-migratory spotless starling may be descended from a population of ancestral S. vulgaris that survived in an Iberian refugium during an ice age retreat.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zuccon, Dario; Pasquet, Eric; Ericson, Perg P. (September 2008). "Phylogenetic relationships among Palearctic–Oriental starlings and mynas (genera Sturnus and Acridotheres: Sturnidae)" (PDF). Zoologica Scripta 37 (5): 469–481. doi:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2008.00339.x. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Feare, Chris & Craig, Adrian (1999): Starlings and Mynas. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-7136-3961-X
  • Grimmett, Richard; Inskipp, Carol, Inskipp, Tim & Byers, Clive (1999): Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.. ISBN 0-691-04910-6
  • Jønsson, Knud A. & Fjeldså, Jon (2006): A phylogenetic supertree of oscine passerine birds (Aves: Passeri). Zool. Scripta 35(2): 149–186. doi:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2006.00221.x (HTML abstract)
  • Svensson, Lars; Zetterström, Dan; Mullarney, Killian & Grant, P. J. (1999): Collins bird guide. Harper & Collins, London. ISBN 0-00-219728-6
  • Zuccon, Dario; Cibois, Alice; Pasquet, Eric & Ericson, Per G.P. (2006): Nuclear and mitochondrial sequence data reveal the major lineages of starlings, mynas and related taxa. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 41(2): 333-344. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.05.007 PMID 16806992 (HTML abstract)