Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The global population is estimated to number > c.310,000,000 individuals (Rich et al. 2004). The European population is estimated at 28,800,000-52,400,000 pairs, which equates to 57,700,000-105,000,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 55% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 105,000,000-191,000,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.
In Europe the overall trend from 1980-2013 was undergoing a moderate decline (EBCC 2015).
During the breeding season this species occupies open country, including modified habitats, with access to suitable nesting and roosting sites. It requires cavity nest-sites, typically in woodland or on man-made structures, close to open areas of short grassland for foraging. At other times it exploits a wide range of habitats, including moorland, saltmarshes, seashore and tidal flats, stubble fields, orchards, refuse dumps and sewage-treatment works. It roosts in reedbeds, scrub and trees, as well as bridges and buildings and even in town centres. Breeding occurs mostly between March and July. The nest is a bulky structure of dry grass, conifer needles, twigs, string and other materials and the cup is lined with softer materials such as grass, feathers, moss, wool, hair and paper, fresh green leaves and flowers. It is typically built in a hole in a tree, cliff, building or other structure and nestboxes are also readily used. Clutches are normally four to six eggs (Craig and Feare 2015). It is omnivorous, taking animal and plant material all year round but during the spring animal food predominates and is fed almost exclusively to nestlings (Snow and Perrins 1998). The northern and eastern populations are migratory whereas southern and western populations as well as those in urban areas tend to be resident (Craig and Feare 2015).
The species is thought to be declining in some areas owing to the intensification and specialization of agriculture and consequent changes in rural habitats (Craig and Feare 2015), such as decreases in fallow and grassland and increases in autumn-sown arable crops (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997). Declines have coincided with a reduction in cattle farming. In some European countries it was formerly a regular food source and was also kept as a cagebird (Craig and Feare 2015).
Conservation Actions Underway
EU Birds Directive Annex II. In parts of its natural Eurasian range, this species is encouraged through provision of nestboxes, as it is claimed to reduce some insect pests (Craig and Feare 2015).
Conservation Actions Proposed
The promotion and expansion of low-intensity agriculture would benefit this species.
Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A., Ashpole, J
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Sturnus vulgaris. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/11/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/11/2019.