Smaller than blackbirds, with a short tail, pointed head, triangular wings, starlings look black at a distance but when seen closer they are very glossy with a sheen of purples and greens. Their flight is fast and direct and they walk and run confidently on the ground. Noisy and gregarious, starlings spend a lot of the year in flocks.
The starlings are generally a highly social family. Most species associate in flocks of varying sizes throughout the year. A flock of starlings is called a murmuration.
These flocks may include other species of starlings and sometimes species from other families. This sociality is particularly evident in the their roosting behaviour; in the non-breeding season some roosts can number in the thousands of birds.
Why do they do it?
Starlings join forces for many reasons. Grouping together offers safety in numbers – predators such as peregrine falcons find it hard to target one bird amidst a hypnotising flock of thousands.