Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 153, Issue 2, pp 291–296 | Cite as

Female Spotless Starlings (Sturnus unicolor) remove green plants from their nests

Original Article


The males of the European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and Spotless Starling (S. unicolor) carry green plants to their nests. However, the consequences of this behaviour for the females are still poorly known. In this study, we evaluated the behavioural responses of female Spotless Starlings to the green plants that they find in their nests. We added green plants to a group of experimental nests (E nests) and quantified the activity of the nesting females in the E nests and in a group of non-manipulated nests (C nests). The females never added green plants to their nests, but they removed the green plants more frequently from the E nests than from the C nests. The number of departures from the nest by females that carried green plants was positively correlated with the number of visits by females that carried nothing. In contrast, the number of departures by females carrying green plants was uncorrelated with the number of visits made by females that carried nest-building materials. These results suggest that the females made a specific additional effort to remove the green plants from the E nests. We propose that this behaviour may be an adaptive response of mated females that serves to counteract the eventual negative effects of green plants on their reproductive success. However, competing hypotheses cannot be rejected, and additional work is needed to better understand the removal of green plants by female Spotless Starlings.


Female–female competition Green plants Nesting material Sexual selection Signalling Sturnus unicolor 


Weibliche Einfarbstare entfernen grüne Pflanzen aus ihren Nestern

Die Männchen des Stars (Sturnus vulgaris) und des Einfarbstars (S. unicolor) tragen grüne Pflanzen in ihre Nester ein. Die Folgen dieses Verhaltens für die Weibchen sind jedoch schlecht verstanden. In dieser Studie haben wir die Verhaltensantworten von Weibchen des Einfarbstars auf die Pflanzen, die sie in ihren Nestern finden, ausgewertet. Wir haben zu einer Gruppe von experimentellen Nestern (E-Nestern) grüne Pflanzen hinzugefügt und die Aktivität der brütenden Weibchen in den E-Nestern sowie in einer Gruppe von unmanipulierten Nestern (C-Nestern) quantifiziert. Die Weibchen haben niemals grüne Pflanzen in ihre Nester eingetragen, aber haben die grünen Pflanzen häufiger aus den E-Nestern als aus den C-Nestern entfernt. Die Anzahl der Abflüge vom Nest durch Weibchen, die grüne Pflanzen trugen, korrelierte positiv mit der Anzahl der Besuche von Weibchen, die nichts trugen. Im Gegensatz dazu war die Anzahl der Abflüge von Weibchen, die grüne Pflanzen trugen, nicht mit der Anzahl der Besuche von Weibchen, die Nistmaterial trugen, korreliert. Diese Ergebnisse deuten darauf hin, dass die Weibchen sich ausdrücklich „bemühten“, die grünen Pflanzen aus den E-Nestern zu entfernen. Wir schlagen vor, dass dieses Verhalten eine adaptive Antwort verpaarter Weibchen sein könnte, die dazu dient, den letztendlich negativen Effekten grüner Pflanzen auf ihren Fortpflanzungserfolg entgegenzuwirken. Andere Hypothesen können jedoch nicht abgelehnt werden, und zusätzliche Arbeit ist notwendig, um das Entfernen von grünen Pflanzen durch weibliche Einfarbstare besser zu verstehen.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología EvolutivaMuseo Nacional de Ciencias NaturalesMadridSpain
  2. 2.Escuela Superior de Ciencias Experimentales y Tecnología, ESCETUniversidad Rey Juan CarlosMadridSpain

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