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ALTENBURG JF (2016) A modern neighbourhood revealed as ‘heaven on earth’ for Starlings Sturnus vulgaris. LIMOSA 89 (4): 170-178.

In spring 2015 and 2016, the density of Starling nests was counted during respectively five and three visits in a 15-year old neighbourhood in the town of Culemborg, Gelderland. The site (4.2 ha) is situated at the border of urban and rural habitat. Checks of nest boxes occupied by Starlings in the surroundings provided information to time the counts in such a way that nestlings were older than seven days. In this period their begging calls can be heard from some distance. From the numbers of occupied locations found during each visit, the probability that a territory or confirmed nest was detected during a single visit was determined at c. 50% and c. 40% respectively. Hence, 4% and 10% of the territories present were probably overlooked during the five visits in 2015 and the three visits in 2016. Observed territory densities were 20.2 /ha in 2015 and 22.6 /ha in 2016 (of which 89% with confirmed and 11% with probable nests), which is very high in comparison to Dutch reference data for urban areas. Even though the neighbourhood consists of modern houses with legally required measures to prevent birds from breeding under roofs, Starlings were capable of gaining access via the corner tiles of the roofs, where 88% of all known nests were located. Starlings did not show a preference for a particular orientation of these corner tiles (NE, SE, SW, NW). In both years Starling nests were not evenly distributed throughout the neighbourhood; a significant preference was found for the westernmost streets. A plausible explanation is that Starlings preferred locations closest to an intensively managed meadow that formed a preferred foraging area in the chick rearing phase. In this way parent birds could save about 39 km of foraging flights per day (about 20% of total flight costs) relative to birds from the centre of the neighbourhood. However, still only 50% of all potential nest sites in the houses in the western part of the study area were actually occupied.

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limosa 89.4 2016
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