Starlings in the nest box on Saaremaa

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Felis silvestris
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Starlings in the nest box on Saaremaa

Post by Felis silvestris »

This is the great tit nest box we were watching last year for the bird of the year. The great tit did not manage to breed as a wryneck emptied the nest box (http://www.looduskalender.ee/n/en/node/320) but did not return not nest, later the great tit spent the nights there, but right at the end of its year a woodpecker occupied the box and spent the nights there until recently starlings discovered this stately home. We witnessed a fierce fight there (http://www.looduskalender.ee/n/en/node/1155), and now a pair of starlings comes in the morning to work a bit on the nest inside and court each other a little bit.



The nest box is at the outskirts of Kuressaare, the capital city of the Estonian island Saaremaa. It is attached to a radio tower, ca. 6 m above ground. Originally meant for great tits, the woodpecker has worked on it several times and made the entrance larger.

The new inhabitants, starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), are medium sized passerines. They have glossy black plumage with a metallic sheen, which is speckled with white at some times of year. Their legs are pink and their bill is black in winter and yellow in summer; young birds have browner plumage than the adults. The underparts of adult male common starlings are less spotted than those of adult females at a given time of year. The throat feathers of males are long and loose and are used in display while those of females are smaller and more pointed. The legs are stout and pinkish- or greyish-red. The bill is narrow and conical with a sharp tip; in the winter it is brownish-black but in summer, females have lemon yellow beaks while males have yellow bills with blue-grey bases. They can usually be sexed by the colour of the irises, rich brown in males, mouse-brown or grey in females.
The common starling is largely insectivorous and feeds on both pest and other arthropods. The food range includes spiders, crane flies, moths, mayflies, dragonflies, damsel flies, grasshoppers, earwigs, lacewings, caddisflies, flies, beetles, sawflies, bees, wasps and ants. Prey are consumed in both adult and larvae stages of development, and common starlings will also feed on earthworms, snails, small amphibians and lizards. While the consumption of invertebrates is necessary for successful breeding, common starlings are omnivorous and can also eat grains, seeds, fruits, nectar and food waste if the opportunity arises.
Unpaired males find a suitable cavity and begin to build nests in order to attract single females, often decorating the nest with ornaments such as flowers and fresh green material, which the female later disassembles upon accepting him as a mate. The males sing throughout much of the construction and even more so when a female approaches his nest. Following copulation, the male and female continue to build the nest. Nests may be in any type of hole, common locations include inside hollowed trees, buildings, tree stumps and man-made nest-boxes. Nests are typically made out of straw, dry grass and twigs with an inner lining made up of feathers, wool and soft leaves. Construction usually takes four or five days and may continue through incubation.
Breeding takes place during the spring and summer. Following copulation, the female lays eggs on a daily basis over a period of several days. If an egg is lost during this time, she will lay another to replace it. There are normally four or five eggs that are ovoid in shape and pale blue or occasionally white, and they commonly have a glossy appearance. Incubation lasts thirteen days, although the last egg laid may take 24 hours longer than the first to hatch. Both parents share the responsibility of brooding the eggs, but the female spends more time incubating them than does the male, and is the only parent to do so at night when the male returns to the communal roost. The young are born blind and naked. They develop light fluffy down within seven days of hatching and can see within nine days. Nestlings remain in the nest for three weeks, where they are fed continuously by both parents. Fledglings continue to be fed by their parents for another one or two weeks. A pair can raise up to three broods per year, frequently reusing and relining the same nest, although two broods is typical.

During the migration time they amaze us with their large flocks (murmurations) of thousands of birds flying in amazing formations.

(Source: Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_starling)

Links to the camera:

tt.ee: http://webcam.tt.ee/eng/ - On the left column choose "Nest box"
or:
JW-Player: http://webcam.tt.ee/player/?s=pesakast&w=640&h=360
VLC and Android: rtmp://webcam.tt.ee/live/pesakast
“One can measure the greatness and the moral progress of a nation by looking at how it treats its animals” (Mahatma Gandhi)
"You can judge a man's true character by the way he treats his fellow animals" (Paul McCartney)



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Post by Felis silvestris »

Season 2017 - failed, too many contenders for the nest box
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"You can judge a man's true character by the way he treats his fellow animals" (Paul McCartney)



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Post by Felis silvestris »

Season 2018

Late in March starlings started to come and check out the nest box and spend the night there too.
By mid April serious work inside the nest box, new material is brought and arranged.

April 22: first egg can be seen
April 24: second egg
April 25: third egg
April 26: fourth egg
April 27: fifth egg
April 28: sixth egg

May 09: the first four hatchlings can be seen
May 10: the last two chicks hatched
“One can measure the greatness and the moral progress of a nation by looking at how it treats its animals” (Mahatma Gandhi)
"You can judge a man's true character by the way he treats his fellow animals" (Paul McCartney)



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Post by Felis silvestris »

reserved
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Post by Felis silvestris »

reserved
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"You can judge a man's true character by the way he treats his fellow animals" (Paul McCartney)



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reserved
“One can measure the greatness and the moral progress of a nation by looking at how it treats its animals” (Mahatma Gandhi)
"You can judge a man's true character by the way he treats his fellow animals" (Paul McCartney)



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Post by Felis silvestris »

So cute! :laugh:

Image
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Post by IceAge »

Thank you very much, Felis.

I hope, that is the couple and we can watch the breeding.

22:55

Image
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Post by Shanta »

Ohhh, new topic :puzzled: ... thank you Felis!
My report from the evening is a bit late, so I must write here.

Today many strange things habe happened, at first in the morning a fight between two females (old topic: viewtopic.php?p=518811#p518811 ) and now the evening.

19:03 Starling female comes in the box (think the talking lady). In a distance can hear singing male. She seems nervously, hops back and forth, often looks out the window. Finally she takes a nap and male is singing outside, maybe he wants she comes out.
19:20 Female wakes up, but does not leave box
19:33 Male still singing outside and now female leaves the box
19:46 Female is back. At first all is quiet outside, but then male starts singing again. Female starts a short sleep. Engine noises from outside and she wakes up.
19:51 Male jumps in the box and they have a little fight. Female makes strange noises, seems she says "let me stay".


19:55 The calm before the storm, something is in the air .... a fight starts again.
After it the male is very quiet, female is calling always. Think, this lady is not his favourit and he tries to force her out of the box
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Post by Shanta »

20:03 It's like before, female calling and male very quit. For some minutes all calms down ... suddenly again a fight
20:13 The situation is not relaxed yet so completely
20:22 Female sometimes is still calling

Okay, finally at last both starlings are in the box till now and sleeping. Interesting for me hear a female talking for such a long time. My guess, starling male has given up ... anyway for today.

My wish, an expert could explain the situation :blush: ... maybe all is a normal behavior for a starling couple :puzzled:

Pics from the evening
19:57 After a little fight
Image

20:24
Image

20:32
Image

00:54 Both sleeping
Image
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Post by Felis silvestris »

Since they spend quite some time here by now, I hope that they will stay to breed. According to what I read about starlings, they are very nicely inside the time frame for breeding. Otherwise, about the behaviour I can't say much, I have never before observed breeding starlings. Only the taking in and again taking out of nest material is explained in the Wikipedia article:
Unpaired males find a suitable cavity and begin to build nests in order to attract single females, often decorating the nest with ornaments such as flowers and fresh green material, which the female later disassembles upon accepting him as a mate.
Wishing us all a happy and successful breeding season here for this year!
“One can measure the greatness and the moral progress of a nation by looking at how it treats its animals” (Mahatma Gandhi)
"You can judge a man's true character by the way he treats his fellow animals" (Paul McCartney)



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Post by Shanta »

April 05

TY Felis!
Could also not find out more about the behavior of pairing (right word?). Till now there was no gift and for me also it's not a really nest building :puzzled: .

06:00 At first all looks good, but ... if this pair will ever find together? Not sure what to think, think not or it's a long way ... or all is a normal way in a nist box and I think too humanly.

The end is funny. He is sleeping and she preening, suddenly he says "stop it" and she "okay, okay"


06:39 Have an argument
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Post by Shanta »

06:42 Hmm, don't know what to say. Seems female fear a bit, shows submissive and he is not very kind. Don't know how to call her sound, is it calling :puzzled:. The sound is ...



06:54 Male on the way to fly out, she is calling ... he sits in the window, a crow is to hear and he jumps back in the box for short



07:02 Male flies out and after 30 second back loud calling and out again ... maybe something was outside
07:05 Female also flies out
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Post by Shanta »

Sorry, I don't want write so much :whistling:

07:14 Male comes back, female follows him and they have a little fight. Male leaves the box first.



07:19 Female back
07:20 out
So it goes many times
Image

08:42 Male comes back, a bit singing, homework
08:45 Male flies out

:wave:
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Post by Trine »

Shanta wrote:Sorry, I don't want write so much :whistling:
Shanta :hi: I appreciate your reports and videos very much. Thank you.
Interesting relationship they have, these starlings.
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Post by Shanta »

:hi: Trine, you're very welcome!

The behavior or relatioship of these starlings is indeed curious and very interesting :nod:


18:35 Starling male is singing outside
18:49 Starling male and female comes in. Could not see who was the first


18:52 Female flies out
Image


19:46 Male is back in box for 2 minutes
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Post by Shanta »

April 06

Good morning!

Empty nest box over night.
06:30 Starling male in box
Image

06:32 A short nap
Image

06:41 A short call and he flies out
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Post by Shanta »

07:03 Starling male comes in and seems some want follow him but he don't want and defends nest box



07:10 He flies out
07:12 Male comes in and out, singing outside
07:14 back and waiting, a bit homework
07:17 He flies out and few seconds later talking female comes in. Some homework, preening, talking, a short nap and looking around
07:24 Male is singing outside (maybe he wants female comes out)
07:25 She looks out of the window, but don't leave the box
07:34 Short she defends the window and flies out
07:34 Female comes in and out
07:39 Female back, homework
07:40 out
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Post by IceAge »

Shanta, thank you :thumbs: .

08:59
male is back

09:01
out

09:03
female inside
09:04
out
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Post by Shanta »

IceAge, you're welcome! Thank you for watching nest box :thumbs:
Next days sadly have not so much time and it's so interesting what happens in this box and with the starlings.

Now my rest from the morning till I had to go
07:41 Male back with nestmaterial
Image

07:48 out
07:50 Female comes in, homework, looking around, preening, looks out of the window ... and has a little leafe
Image

07:54 She flies out
07:55 Female back
07:59 out
08:03 Male comes in follow by an other bird (see only the beak for a second), but male don't allow to come in the box.
Image
08:06 Male flies out
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