Birds by Name – S
The Green Sandpiper, Tringa ochropus, is a small, chubby wader found throughout Europe. It is migratory and winters in southern Europe. It has a dark greenish-brown back and wings (almost black looking), greyish head and breast and white underparts. The back is spotted with white to varying degrees, more so in the breeding adult. The legs and short bill are both dark green.
The Green Sandpiper can be found in freshwater margins, such as marshes, lakes, gravel pits and rivers, and it likes to bob up and down when standing which makes recognition a lot easier.
It eats insects.
Species: T. ochropus
Scimitarbills, belonging to the genus Rhinopomastus, get their name from the shape of their bills, which are long and curved. They are a bit smaller than most wood hoopoes.
They eat insects and invertebrates, using their long bills to probe for food.
Eggs are laid in cavities in trees.
The European Serin, or just Serin, Serinus serinus, is the smallest European species of the finch family, Fringillidae, and is closely related to the Canary and it breeds throughout southern and central Europe and North Africa.
It is a small short-tailed bird, 11 to 12 centimetres in length. The upper parts are dark-streaked greyish green and it has a yellow rump, streaked yellow breast and white belly. It has darker patches under the eyes and on top of the head. The male has a brighter yellow face and breast and yellow wing bars.
It eats seeds, buds and small invertebrates.
Species: S. serinus
The Yellow-billed Shrike, Corvinella corvina, is a fairly small passerine bird in the shrike family and is a common resident breeding bird in tropical Africa from Senegal east to Uganda. It inhabits forests and other habitats with trees where it perches on branches as it seeks out food.
The Yellow-billed Shrike is about 18 centimetres in length with a long tail and short wings. The adult has mottled brown upper area and streaked buff underparts. The bill is, fairly obviously, yellow. Both sexes are similar in colour.
Nests are built in a bush or tree and normally four or five eggs are laid. However, only one female in a group actually breeds at any given time, the rest of the group members assisting by providing protection and food.
Insects are the primary food of the Yellow-billed Shrike.
Species: C. corvina
The Star Finch, Neochmia ruficauda, is a very colourful small bird in the finch family and is native to the dry savanna and grasslands of Australia.
These particular specimens were flying around with the Gouldian Finches in the Butterfly Park in Benalmádena.
Species: N. ruficauda
Long-tailed Glossy Starling
This rather splendiferous bird with a metallic sheen is the Long-tailed Glossy Starling, Lamprotornis caudatus, which grows up to a total length of around 54 centimetres, 34 centimetres of which is taken up by the magnificent tail.
The Long-tailed Glossy Starling is omnivorous, eating everything from fruit to insects.
Quite a distinctive yellow eye, particularly on a black face.
The Long-tailed Glossy Starling lays between two and four eggs.
Species: L. caudatus
Purple Glossy Starling
The Purple Glossy Starling, Lamprotornis purpureus, is about 23 centimetres in length and has a metallic purple head and body, glossy green wings, a short tail and a yellow eye.
The Purple Glossy Starling is omnivorous, eating both fruits and insects.
Species: L. purpureus
The Spotless Starling, Sturnus unicolor, is basically the Iberian answer to the common Starling found elsewhere in Europe and, as the name might suggest, it has, for the majority of the year, no spots.
The Spotless Starling is basically restricted to the Iberian Peninsula, northwest Africa, southernmost France, the islands of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica and is largely non-migratory.
The Spotless Staring is slightly larger than its common counterpart and has a more oily appearance (or shiny as I prefer to call it). In winter, the male has a bluish base to the beak and the female has a pinkish base. The only time this bird has the vaguest semblance of spots is during part of the winter and this effect is caused by the tips of the wing feathers.
Like the common Starling, the Spotless Starling walks rather than hops along. Also like most starlings it is a hole-nesting species, breeding in tree holes, buildings and in cliff crevices. It typically lays three to five eggs.
Species: S. unicolor
The Starling, Sturnus vulgaris, is a small to medium-sized passerine bird in the family Sturnidae, just a bit smaller than a Blackbird.
It has a short tail, pointed head, triangular wings and a glossy, almost metallic sheen of purples and greens.
Starlings eat insects and fruit.
The Stonechat, Saxicola rubicola, is a small, robin-sized, passerine bird that was also formerly classed as a member of the thrush family, Turdidae, but is now considered part of the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae.
Males have striking black heads with white around the side of their neck, orange-red breasts and a mottled brown back. Females lack the male’s black head, but have brown backs and an orange tinge to their chests.
Species: S. rubicola
The Wire-tailed Swallow, Hirundo smithii, is a relatively small passerine bird in the Hirundinidae family.
The Wire-tailed Swallow breeds south of the Sahara desert in Africa and in the tropical areas of southern Asia from India to southeast Asia.
Different lighting – bright sunshine and shade – makes the Wire-tailed Swallow look strikingly different.
It is about 14 centimetres in length, has bright blue upperparts, a reddish-brown crown and white belly. It also has long, thin tail feathers, hence its name.
The Wire-tailed Swallow generally lays 3 to 4 eggs in a neat half-bowl nest are lined with mud. As with other Swallows and Martins, nests are built on vertical surfaces near water, under cliff ledges or on man-made structures such as buildings and bridges.
Species: H. smithii