The animal on the cover of Unity Game Development Cookbook is the common starling (Sturnus vulgaris). These birds live in Europe, the Middle East, North America, and Australia, as well as northern and southern Africa. These average-sized, delta-winged songbirds were introduced in Australia and in North America in the nineteenth century, and have demonstrated their adaptability by since becoming one of the most common birds in their new home areas, to the point of being considered a pest.

In late summer, juvenile common starlings in their pale-brown plumage can be seen stalking along behind their parents noisily begging for food, with the adult birds being iridescent black. This iridescence is created by feather structure, as light becomes strongly amplified and reflected within and then back out from the feather, creating the shifting rainbow appearance. As clear iridescence is an indicator of feather and so general health, female starlings choose as mates the most iridescent males. Adult common starlings also grow in new feathers that have white tips, making them briefly appear spotted; within a short time, however, these tips wear off and the birds resume their everyday glossy plumage. (Scientists term this unusual appearance change “wear molt.”)

Whether they’re in small groups or large flocks, these starlings are well known as noisy, but a closer listen often reveals their gift for mimicry; they imitate things such as car alarms, as well as the calls of other songbirds ...

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