© naturepl.com / Paul Hobson / WWF


Famous for their group aerial acrobatics

Starlings are common garden visitors here in the UK, but they are one of our fastest disappearing birds. Their numbers fell by 53% between 1995 and 2018, and without our help, things will only get worse.

European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) flying from nest, UK
© naturepl.com / Stephen Dalton / WWF

Murmurating mimics

You might recognise a starling’s lively chattering, but did you know they’re also great mimics? They can produce a whole range of sounds from dogs to frogs, as well as human speech, car alarms and ringtones. Next time you hear one sing, listen out for any unusual sounds.

Starlings are better known for their other skill: taking to the skies to perform aerial ‘dances’ known as murmurations. Gathering in their thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, they move together to seek safety in numbers from birds of prey. It’s one of our most breath-taking wildlife spectacles.

Seeing them in gardens and as part of large gatherings might lead you to think that starlings are thriving. But the reality is that they are one of the fastest declining birds in the UK and they were added to the UK Red List of Conservation Concern as far back as 2002.

European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) singing from a perch. Cheshire, UK
© naturepl.com / Alan Williams / WWF

Changing landscape

While they still fledge many chicks, more and more of these young birds seem to be dying during the first year of life. This could be because of rising pollution and increasingly hot summers making food scarcer. Modern housing offers starlings fewer places to nest, and the way our grasslands and agricultural environments are managed, including pesticides usage, could also be playing a part.

Thankfully, there are lots of ways we can help. We can boost natural food sources for starlings and other garden birds by creating ponds, planting wildflower meadows, letting areas of grass grow long, or making log piles. We can make food and water available and put up suitable nestboxes. We can also reward farmers who practice wildlife-friendly farming and use schemes like Fair to Nature.

By making changes to how we encourage wildlife to our land, in our gardens and our farms, we can help starlings to recover and thrive once more in our wild isles.  

Starlings in numbers


no. of eggs breeding pairs lay each year

21 yrs

oldest known wild bird


of juveniles that live beyond one year

How will you Go Wild Once a Week?

Our wildlife is amazing - but it’s in crisis. WWF, the RSPB and the National Trust are working together to bring nature back from the brink. We need everyone. Find out how you can go wild once a week and together we can save our wild isles.