A compact, stocky passerine, easily recognized by its predominantly glossy black plumage and short, squared tail, pointed wings, and long bill. Body plumage shows purple and greenish iridescence, especially on the head, back, and breast. After molt most of the head and body feathers have whitish or buff terminal spots. Sexes are similar. It is distinguished from the North American blackbirds in the spring by the yellow bill (Cabe 1993).
For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.
Western Hemisphere Range
Owing to their close association with man and behavioral plasticity, European Starling inhabit a wide variety of areas if a few crucial needs are met. They forage in open country on short, mown, or grazed fields - abundantly available in urban as well as agricultural areas. These areas also provide the necessary food resources, nesting cavities, and water (Cabe 1993).
Extremely diverse diet that varies geographically, with the age of individuals, and with season. Generally will eat invertebrates when available. Also, fruits, berries, grains, and certain seeds during other times of the year. Most foraging time is spent in open areas with short vegetation (Cabe 1993).
Male selects nest site and begins construction before mating. Female chooses among males and/or nest site. Nests can be found virtually anywhere a cavity can be found. Preferred sites include cavity-like openings in buildings, nest-boxes, cavities usurped from woodpeckers, and natural cavities in trees. Found occasionally without a cavity in dense vegetation in trees or on the ground. Mean clutch size is 5.15 in eastern U.S.; 4.45 in western U.S.; and 4.28 in Midwest (Cabe 1993). Nesting observed in May. Young in nest in mid-May. Near Fortine, egg dates are May 1 to 15; young in nest June 2 to July 8.