BACKYARD SECRET –THE BILL OF THE EUROPEAN STARLING CAN CHANGE COLOR

european-starlingCan you tell what time of year the European starling shown here was photographed? If you are like most folks, you could only guess at the correct answer.

Since most of us are very familiar with starlings, when we see one we give it nothing more than a quick glance.  However, if we stopped and closely studied even what we consider a common bird, we would begin to notice subtle features that we perhaps long overlooked.

Since the European starling’s bill typically changes color during the year, it is possible to know roughly when a photo of one was taken.  During the fall and winter the straight, slender bill of the adult starling is usually dark. In contrast, during the breeding season (spring and summer) it is usually bright yellow.

The bird shown here was photographed in summer.

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