European Starling 
(Sturnus vulgaris)



European starlings are common passerines in agricultural areas, and they nest readily in nest boxes. We established a nest box population of these birds in 1995 at Agassiz (one hour's drive east of Vancouver) and have been using this species to extend and validate our zebra finch studies to a free-living population. A main focus of all our projects involving starlings has been the physiological basis of egg and clutch size variation, the trade-off between these, and the 'cost of reproduction'. Previous studies have involved characterizing individual variation in reproductive traits (including physiology) andmanipulation of hormone status and immune system function in egg-laying birds. Presently we are assessing the energetic costs of egg production by comparing resting metabolic rates (RMR) of egg producing females with non-reproductive and chick-rearing individuals. To understand the basis of energy consumption during a reproductive event we are looking for possible links between RMR at all reproductive stages and the size and physiological activity of the main body constituents. We are also in the process of developing a technique to physiologically manipulate reproductive effort using tamoxifen implants to manipulate egg and clutch size, which will allow direct experimental tests of trade-offs and the functional significance of variation in egg size.

Click here for a list of publications on Starlings by CWE researchers.

Graduate Students studying European starlings:

Francois Vezina


Last updated on 6 Feb, 2003. Contact CWE webmaster.