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Old 12-02-16, 12:45 PM
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Default Abundance of jackdaws but no starlings

Maybe someone could explain this, just to satisfy my curiosity...

I live in Chapel-en-le-Frith which is in High Peak, North Derbyshire. We have quite a variety of birds in the area such as finches, tits, robins, blackbirds, the occasional sparrow and nuthatch... I even saw a kingfisher last year! But undoubtedly by far the most common birds here are the jackdaws, they are all over the place - gardens, car parks, roof tops... just everywhere.

But not a single starling anywhere for miles. This puzzles me because if this area supports so many other birds, what is it that keeps starlings away?

Why do we have so many jackdaws and why do we have no starlings at all?
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Old 12-02-16, 01:43 PM
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Hi Starlings are quite rare in this country and I believe are now on the red list, all the thousands of starlings in winter that gather in huge murmurations, are all from the continent, and by the end of march will have all gone back, I cannot explain why there are none in your area, perhaps its not a good food area for them, if on your wanderings you do see some. go back in April you will be surprised to find them all gone, hope this helps.
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Old 20-02-16, 06:31 PM
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I'm going to have to disagree with Hawkeye, Starlings are not rare in the UK. The term is subjective, but with c1.8 million breeding pairs, and probably over 5 million in winter, few people would agree that they are rare. To put this into perspective, Long-tailed Tits have less than 1/5 of the number of breeding pairs, and there are only about 2/3 of the number of breeding pairs of Collared Doves as there are of Starlings, and neither of these species is ever described as 'rare' in the UK now. It is also not correct that all of the Starlings that winter in the UK are from the continent. Many of the c6 Million+ UK breeding Starlings and their offspring that are alive at the beginning of the winter will remain in the UK or Ireland (although some will head south-west to northern parts of Iberia and France.

It is true that Starlings have declined and, as a result, are red listed, but 'red listed' in the UK does not mean that the species is rare (only that there is a cause for concern). Many red listed species are very common, and some scarce/rare species are green listed.
The most recent breeding population estimates for Starlings in the UK (2009) suggest that there are around 1.8 Million breeding pairs, with Breeding Bird Survey trends suggesting that there has been little change since then. In contrast, populations of common species like Collared Dove have been estimated as c1.2 Million pairs, and Long-tailed Tit c350,000 pairs. Populations of species considered scarce or rare that are green listed, include Cetti's Warbler (c2000 pairs), Peregrine (c1500 pairs), and Goshawk (less than 500 pairs).
https://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/sukb2015_tcm9-409524.pdf

As far as the reasons for Starlings being scarce (or not found) in your area of north Derbyshire are concerned, 'porkypig', I would suggest that this will be largely due to the type of habitat found in the immediate area. Starlings predominately prefer lowland areas with pastoral land than provides short turf. If this type of habitat is not common in your area, they are unlikely to be present in any numbers, although small numbers may be present occasionally during the winter, and a few pairs may breed locally.

http://blx1.bto.org/birdfacts/results/bob15820.htm

Last edited by RoyW__; 20-02-16 at 06:34 PM.
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Old 20-02-16, 07:08 PM
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Perhaps rare was the wrong word, but they are certainly not as common as they used to be, been on the red list is not to be ignored, I know for a fact, that by the end of March you can go around all the streets in Knaresborough and apart from the odd farm, you will not see any Starlings, I know many years ago an acquaintance of ours her in Knaresborough did a study of the Starlings in winter, linked to Leeds university and they found that nearly all the starlings seen in winter in the UK came from the continent, They found during autopsies that the birds did not develop in the ovaries, the same as the uk ones, until they got back to the continent, it was interesting, apart from them having to kill them to do the autopsies.
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Old 20-02-16, 08:41 PM
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There is no disputing the fact that Starlings have declined in the UK, and are not as common as they used to be. I also have no reason to doubt that Starlings may be difficult to find in your area during the breeding season.
When species decline in a geographical area, the declines will invariably be noticed first in the regions that are generally less suited to the species requirements, since as the population falls there will no longer be a need for parts of the population to try and breed in suboptimal habitat.
The study that you mention sounds potentially interesting, but the findings that you quote are contradicted by the findings of other studies, and BTO ringing data, which suggest that British breeding Starlings are largely resident and joined in the winter by individuals from continental Europe to the north and east of the UK. I would wonder what the sample size was, and what part(s) of the UK the sample specimens were taken from.
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Old 20-02-16, 09:53 PM
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Good to see you posting again Roy and as usual interesting and knowledgeable.

In my own area in South Cumbria, a lowland area close to the Kent Estuary, Starling numbers have fluctuated throughout the winter, but generally numbers are lower than previous years. I believe the murmurations just a few miles away at Leighton Moss have not been as great this year.

Always plenty of Jackdaws, Magpies and Crows around my village, including the leucistic Carrion Crow which seems to have gone off feeding on the fat-filled coconut shells I put out - it prefers feeding in the fields behind my house now!
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Old 21-02-16, 05:35 AM
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The study was done by John Mathers with other from Leeds University I will see

if I can find the papers.
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