Single combat is a duel between two single warriors which takes place in the context of a battle between two armies. It is champion warfare, with the two considered the champions of their respective sides. Instances of single combat are known from the Middle Ages; the champions were combatants who represented larger, spectator groups. Such representative contests and stories thereof are known worldwide, it takes place in the no-man's-land between the opposing armies, with other warriors watching and themselves refraining from fighting until one of the two single combatants has won. But single combat could take place within a larger battle. Both ancient and medieval warfare did not always rely on the phalanx formation; the Iliad notably describes the battles of the Trojan war as a series of single encounters on the field, the medieval code of chivalry inspired by this, encouraged the single combat between individual knights on the battlefield, in which the loser was not killed but taken captive for ransom.
This tradition ended in the 14th century due to the use of the longbow and the pike square against mounted knights, the tradition of single combat was continued away from the battlefield, with the pas d'armes and the early modern duel. An important episode in "The Tale of Sinuhe", one of the most well-known works of Ancient Egyptian literature, concerns the protagonist – an Egyptian exile in Upper Retjenu – defeating a powerful opponent in single combat. Duels between individual warriors are depicted in the Iliad, including those between Menelaus and Paris and between Achilles and Hector; the Hebrew Bible includes a few accounts of single combat, the most famous being David versus Goliath. Single combat is mentioned quite in the history of ancient Rome – Romulus defeated Acro, king of Caenina for the spolia opima. In the 5th century BC. Depictions of single combat appear in the Hindu epics of the Mahābhārata and the Ramayana. Single combats are preludes to battles in the Chinese epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms and are featured prominently throughout the epic.
In The Cattle Raid of Cooley, a famous episode of Irish mythology, all the warriors of Ulster but Cúchulainn are made sick by a curse and unable to fight the invading army of Queen Maeb, leaving Cúchulainn to fight a whole series of single combats by himself until they recover. The Welsh mythological tale, the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi, depicts a single combat between the southern prince Pryderi and the northern magician Gwydion, to determine the victor of a war between the two kingdoms. Many battles depicted in the medieval Chanson de Roland consist of a series of single combats, as are battles depicted in various tales of the Arabian Nights. Guy of Warwick, the legendary English Romance hero, is depicted as defeating in single combat the Viking giant Colbrand. An important episode in Geoffrey of Monmouth's legendary History of the Kings of Britain is the single combat between prince Nennius of Britain and Julius Caesar. Single combat was a prelude to battles in pre-Islamic Arabia and early Islamic battles.
For example, the Battle of Badr, one of the most important in the early history of Islam, was opened by three champions of the Islamic side stepping forward and defeating three of the then-Pagan Meccans, although Ubaydah was mortally wounded. This result of the three single combats was considered to have contributed to the Muslim victory in the overall battle which followed. Duels were part of other battles at the time of Muhammad, such as the battle of Uhud, battle of the Trench and the battle of Khaybar. Single combats were characteristic of the Samurai fighting tradition and known as Ikki-uchi; as each samurai commanded his unit of retainers challenging and defeating the opposing samurai by a single combat can force the entire unit to retreat minimizing casualties and changing the course of battle. Those seeking a suitable opponent used Nanori to issue a challenge by announcing his name and bravery as well as ridiculing opponents to boost morale of his side as well as enrage the opponent to force the combat.
As this is a high-risk-low-return strategy for the winning side defeated side, or ill-matched opponent it was acceptable to decline or elude the single combat. An example of single-combat with the tragic result for the victor is told in Heike Monogatari as Kumagai Naozane defeated Taira no Atsumori at the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani, it could be banned by the overall commander as needed and notably during Mongol invasions of Japan during the second invasion in 1281, samurai fought as massed mounted archer/warrior with the annihilation of enemy as the goal. This tradition declines and disappears during the Sengoku period as each side prepared trained armies in thousands or tens of thousands making the single combat have a limited, if any, effect on the outcome of the battle. In Russia, single combat is known as bash na bash, substituting a fight between champions for
Mabon ap Modron
Mabon ap Modron is a prominent figure from Welsh literature and mythology, the son of Modron and a member of Arthur's war band. Both he and his mother were deities in origin, descending from a divine mother–son pair, his name is related to the Romano-British god Maponos, whose name means "Great Son". He is equated with the Demetian hero Pryderi fab Pwyll, may be associated with the minor Arthurian character Mabon fab Mellt; the name Mabon is derived from the Common Brittonic and Gaulish deity name Maponos "Great Son", from the Proto-Celtic root *makwo- "son". Modron is derived from the name of the Brittonic and Gaulish deity Mātronā, meaning "Great Mother", from Proto-Celtic *mātīr "mother". Culhwch's father, King Cilydd, the son of Celyddon, loses his wife Goleuddydd after a difficult childbirth; when he remarries, the young Culhwch rejects his stepmother's attempt to pair him with his new stepsister. Offended, the new queen puts a curse on him so that he can marry no one besides the beautiful Olwen, daughter of the giant Ysbaddaden.
Though he has never seen her, Culhwch becomes infatuated with her, but his father warns him that he will never find her without the aid of his famous cousin Arthur. The young man sets off to seek his kinsman, he asks for support and assistance. Cai is the first knight to volunteer to assist Culhwch in his quest, promising to stand by his side until Olwen is found. A further five knights join them in their mission, they travel onwards until they come across the "fairest of the castles of the world", meet Ysbaddaden's shepherd brother, Custennin. They learn that the castle belongs to Ysbaddaden, that he stripped Custennin of his lands and murdered the shepherd's twenty-three children out of cruelty. Custennin sets up a meeting between Culhwch and Olwen, the maiden agrees to lead Culhwch and his companions to Ysbadadden's castle. Cai pledges to protect the twenty-fourth son, with his life; the knights attack the castle by stealth, killing the nine porters and the nine watchdogs, enter the giant's hall.
Upon their arrival, Ysbaddaden attempts to kill Culhwch with a poison dart, but is outwitted and wounded, first by Bedwyr by the enchanter Menw, by Culhwch himself. Ysbaddaden relents, agrees to give Culhwch his daughter on the condition that he completes a number of impossible tasks, including hunting the Twrch Trwyth and recovering the exalted prisoner, Mabon son of Modron, the only man able to hunt the dog Drudwyn, in turn the only dog who can track the Twrch Trwyth. Arthur and his men learn that Mabon was stolen from his mother's arms when he was three nights old, question the world's oldest and wisest animals about his whereabouts, until they are led to the salmon of Llyn Llyw, the oldest animal of them all; the enormous salmon carries Bedwyr downstream to Mabon's prison in Gloucester. The rest of Arthur's men launch an assault on the front of the prison, while Cei and Bedwyr sneak in the back and rescue Mabon, he subsequently plays a key role in the hunt for the Twrch Trwyth. One of the earliest direct reference to Mabon can be found in the tenth century poem Pa Gur, in which Arthur recounts the feats and achievements of his knights so as to gain entrance to a fortress guarded by Glewlwyd Gafaelfawr, the eponymous porter.
The poem relates that Mabon fab Mydron is one of Arthur's followers, is described as a "servant to Uther Pendragon". A second figure, Mabon fab Mellt, is described as having "stained the grass with blood", he further appears in the medieval tale The Dream of Rhonabwy, in which he fights alongside Arthur at the Battle of Badon and is described as one of the king's chief advisors. Mabon is certainly related to the continental Arthurian figures Mabonagrain, Nabon le Noir and Maboun
Infanticide is the intentional killing of infants. Parental infanticide researchers have found that mothers are far more than fathers to be the perpetrators of neonaticide and more to commit infanticide in general. Anthropologist Laila Williamson notes that "Infanticide has been practiced on every continent and by people on every level of cultural complexity, from hunter gatherers to high civilizations, including our own ancestors. Rather than being an exception it has been the rule."In many past societies, certain forms of infanticide were considered permissible. The practice of infanticide has taken many forms over time. Child sacrifice to supernatural figures or forces, such as that believed to have been practiced in ancient Carthage, may be only the most notorious example in the ancient world. A frequent method of infanticide in ancient Europe and Asia was to abandon the infant, leaving it to die by exposure. On at least one island in Oceania, infanticide was carried out until the 20th century by suffocating the infant, while in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and in the Inca Empire it was carried out by sacrifice.
Many Neolithic groups resorted to infanticide in order to control their numbers so that their lands could support them. Joseph Birdsell believed that infanticide rates in prehistoric times were between 15% and 50% of the total number of births, while Laila Williamson estimated a lower rate ranging from 15% to 20%. Both anthropologists believed that these high rates of infanticide persisted until the development of agriculture during the Neolithic Revolution. Comparative anthropologists have calculated that 50% of female newborn babies were killed by their parents during the Paleolithic era. From the infants hominid skulls, traumatized, has been proposed cannibalism by Raymond A. Dart; the children were not actively killed, but neglect and intentional malnourishment may have occurred, as proposed by Vicente Lull as an explanation for an apparent surplus of men and the below average height of women in prehistoric Menorca. Archaeologists have uncovered physical evidence of child sacrifice at several locations.
Some of the best attested examples are the diverse rites which were part of the religious practices in Mesoamerica and the Inca Empire. Three thousand bones of young children, with evidence of sacrificial rituals, have been found in Sardinia. Pelasgians offered a sacrifice of every tenth child during difficult times. Syrians sacrificed children to Juno. Many remains of children have been found in Gezer excavations with signs of sacrifice. Child skeletons with the marks of sacrifice have been found in Egypt dating 950–720 BCE. In Carthage " sacrifice in the ancient world reached its infamous zenith". Besides the Carthaginians, other Phoenicians, the Canaanites and Sepharvites offered their first-born as a sacrifice to their gods. In Egyptian households, at all social levels, children of both sexes were valued and there is no evidence of infanticide; the religion of the Ancient Egyptians forbade infanticide and during the Greco-Roman period they rescued abandoned babies from manure heaps, a common method of infanticide by Greeks or Romans, were allowed to either adopt them as foundling or raise them as slaves giving them names such as "copro -" to memorialise their rescue.
Strabo considered it a peculiarity of the Egyptians. Diodorus indicates. Egypt was dependent on the annual flooding of the Nile to irrigate the land and in years of low inundation severe famine could occur with breakdowns in social order resulting, notably between 930–1070 AD and 1180–1350 AD. Instances of cannibalism are recorded during these periods but it is unknown if this happened during the pharaonic era of Ancient Egypt. Beatrix Midant-Reynes describes human sacrifice as having occurred at Abydos in the early dynastic period, while Jan Assmann asserts there is no clear evidence of human sacrifice happening in Ancient Egypt. According to Shelby Brown, descendants of the Phoenicians, sacrificed infants to their gods. Charred bones of hundreds of infants have been found in Carthaginian archaeological sites. One such area harbored as many as 20,000 burial urns. Skeptics suggest that the bodies of children found in Carthaginian and Phoenician cemeteries were the cremated remains of children that died naturally.
Plutarch mentions the practice, as do Tertullian, Diodorus Siculus and Philo. The Hebrew Bible mentions what appears to be child sacrifice practiced at a place called the Tophet by the Canaanites. Writing in the 3rd century BCE, one of the historians of Alexander the Great, described that the infants rolled into the flaming pit. Diodorus Siculus wrote that babies were roasted to death inside the burning pit of the god Baal Hamon, a bronze statue; the historical Greeks considered the practice of adult and child sacrifice barbarous, the exposure of newborns was practiced in ancient Greece, it was advocated by Aristotle in the case of congenital deformity — "As to the exposure of children, let there be a law that no deformed child shall live.” In Greece, the decision to expose a child was the father's, although in Sparta the decision was made by a group of elders. Exposure was the preferred method of disposal, as that act in itself was not considered to be murder; this situation was a recurring motif in Greek mythology.
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The Irish Sea separates the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. Anglesey, Wales, is the largest island in the Irish Sea; the second in size is the Isle of Man and the sea may but be referred to as the Manx Sea. The Irish Sea is of significant economic importance to regional trade and transport, power generation in the form of wind power and nuclear power plants. Annual traffic between Great Britain and Ireland amounts to over 12 million passengers and 17 million tonnes of traded goods; the Irish Sea is connected to the North Atlantic at both its southern ends. To the north, the connection is through the North Channel between Scotland and Northern Ireland and the Malin Sea; the southern end is linked to the Atlantic through the St George's Channel between Ireland and Pembrokeshire, the Celtic Sea. It is composed of a deeper channel about 190 miles long and 20–30 miles wide on its western side and shallower bays to the east; the western channel's depth ranges from 80 metres up to 275 m in the Beaufort's Dyke in the North Channel.
Cardigan Bay in the south, the waters to the east of the Isle of Man, are less than 50 m deep. With a total water volume of 2,430 km3 and a surface area of 47,000 km2, 80% is to the west of the Isle of Man; the largest sandbanks are the Bahama and King William Banks to the east and north of the Isle of Man and the Kish Bank, Codling Bank, Arklow Bank and Blackwater Bank near the coast of Ireland. The Irish Sea, at its greatest width, narrows to 47 miles; the International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Irish Sea as follows, On the North. The Southern limit of the Inner Seas off the West Coast of Scotland, defined as a line joining the South extreme of the Mull of Galloway in Scotland and Ballyquintin Point in Northern Ireland. On the South. A line joining St. David's Head in Wales to Carnsore Point in Ireland; the Irish Sea has undergone a series of dramatic changes over the last 20,000 years as the last glacial period ended and was replaced by warmer conditions. At the height of the glaciation, the central part of the modern sea was a long freshwater lake.
As the ice retreated 10,000 years ago, the lake reconnected to the sea. Ireland has no bridge connection to Great Britain. Northern Ireland ports handle 10 million tonnes of goods trade with the rest of the United Kingdom annually; the Port of Liverpool handles 734 thousand passengers a year. Holyhead port handles most of the passenger traffic from Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ports, as well as 3.3 million tonnes of freight. Ports in the Republic handle 3,600,000 travellers crossing the sea each year, amounting to 92% of all Irish Sea travel. Ferry connections from Wales to Ireland across the Irish Sea include Fishguard Harbour and Pembroke to Rosslare, Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire and Holyhead to Dublin. From Scotland, Cairnryan connects with both Larne. There is a connection between Liverpool and Belfast via the Isle of Man or direct from Birkenhead; the world's largest car ferry, Ulysses, is operated by Irish Ferries on the Dublin Port–Holyhead route. "Irish Sea" is the name of one of the BBC's Shipping Forecast areas defined by the coordinates: 54°50′N 05°05′W 54°45′N 05°45′W 52°30′N 06°15′W 52°00′N 05°05′WTransport for Wales Rail, Iarnród Éireann, Irish Ferries, Stena Line, Northern Ireland Railways, Stena Line and Abellio ScotRail promote SailRail with through rail tickets for the train and the ferry.
The Caernarfon Bay basin contains up to 7 cubic kilometres of Permian and Triassic syn-rift sediments in an asymmetrical graben, bounded to the north and south by Lower Paleozoic massifs. Only two exploration wells have been drilled so far, there remain numerous undrilled targets in tilted fault block plays; as in the East Irish Sea Basin, the principal target reservoir is the Lower Triassic, Sherwood Sandstone, top-sealed by younger Triassic mudstones and evaporites. Wells in the Irish Sector to the west have demonstrated that pre-rift, Westphalian coal measures are excellent hydrocarbon source rocks, are at peak maturity for gas generation. Seismic profiles image these strata continuing beneath a basal Permian unconformity into at least the western part of the Caernarfon Bay Basin; the timing of gas generation presents the greatest exploration risk. Maximum burial of, primary gas migration from, the source rocks could have terminated as early as the Jurassic, whereas many of the tilted fault blocks were reactivated or created during Paleogene inversion of the basin.
However, it is possible that a secondary gas charge occurred during regional heating associated with intrusion of Paleogene dykes, such as those that crop out nearby on the coastline of north Wales. (Floodpage et al
Narberth is a town and community in Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales. It was founded around a Welsh court, but became a Norman stronghold on the Landsker Line, it became the headquarters of the hundred of Narberth. It was once a marcher borough. George Owen described it in 1603 as one of nine Pembrokeshire "boroughs in decay"; the town, close to the A40 trunk road, holds a number of events throughout the year and is twinned with Ludlow, Shropshire. Narberth was founded around a Welsh court, but became a Norman stronghold on the Landsker Line, it became the headquarters of the hundred of Narberth. It was once a marcher borough. George Owen described it in 1603 as one of nine Pembrokeshire "boroughs in decay"; the town plays a high-profile role in Welsh mythology, where it is the chief palace of Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed, a key setting in both the first and third branches of the Mabinogi. A drama specially adapted for children based on the story of Culhwch and Olwen from the Mabinogion was staged at Narberth Castle when it was reopened to the public in 2005.
Narberth is a mile south of the A40 trunk road and Narberth railway station is on the main line between Swansea and Pembroke. The population was 2,150. Sir Thomas Foley was born near Narberth. A contemporary of Lord Nelson, he was a senior naval officer at the battles of the Nile and Copenhagen; the footballer Joe Allen was educated in the town. Attractions in the town include several art galleries, the Narberth Museum, the former town hall which still houses the cell where the leaders of the Rebecca Riots were imprisoned and a ruined castle. Narberth has a range of independent shops, including a Daily Telegraph sponsored'Best Traditional Business', national award-winning butcher, women's boutiques, gift shops and has developed a reputation as an antiques centre. In 2014 The Guardian called it "not only a gastronomic hub for west Wales but one of the liveliest, most likable little towns in the UK". Other attractions near to Narberth include Blackpool Mill, at the highest tidal reach of the River Cleddau, where otters and other wildlife may be seen and Oakwood Theme Park.
The town's cultural and arts centre, the Queen's Hall, has played host to live bands such as Therapy?, The Blockheads, The Automatic, Sonic Boom Six, Send More Paramedics and Enter Shikari. Concerts and many classes, such as Kung Fu, yoga and line dancing are held there and it has a contemporary art gallery and a restaurant; the Grove hotel provides restaurant facilities as well as accommodation and caters for special events. The Bloomfield House Community Centre, a Community association and a registered charity is located in Narberth. Narberth was named one of the best places to live in Wales in 2017. Narberth elects a Town Council, which in turn elects a First Citizen annually. Current Mayor: Cllr. Elizabeth Rogers / Deputy Mayor: Cllr. Christopher Walters A county councillor is elected to Pembrokeshire County Council every five years from each of Narberth's two local government wards and Narberth Rural. In the May 2017 election, independent candidate Elwyn Morse was elected unopposed as county councillor for Narberth Rural.
Narberth is in the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire constituencies, for elections to the UK and Wales governments. Narberth is twinned with the English town of Ludlow, both towns celebrate an annual food festival. Narberth is home to several sporting teams, including Narberth Rugby Football Club who play in the Welsh Championship, Narberth Football Club, a cricket club. Narberth Food Festival takes place on the fourth weekend of September every year. In September 2018 it celebrated its 20th birthday; the festival features celebrity chefs, cookery demonstrations, music and children's activities. Narberth Civic Week is held during the last full week of July and includes a parade through the town to one of the churches, where a service is held to welcome the newly appointed Mayor. In 2008, the Civic Service was held in the grounds of Narberth Castle for the first time. During Civic Week, there are various activities arranged for children and visitors to the town; the culmination of Civic Week is the annual Carnival Day Parade, a tradition dating back over 100 years.
Narberth's Winter Carnival, held in December, was revived after a break of 4 years. The town is home to the Narberth A Cappella Voice Festival, which began in 2008 and is described as Wales' only a cappella festival, it celebrated its tenth anniversary in May 2018. Photographs of Narberth and surrounding area on Geograph Historical information on GENUKI
Kingdom of Dyfed
The Kingdom of Dyfed is one of several Welsh petty kingdoms that emerged in 5th-century sub-Roman Britain in southwest Wales based on the former territory of the Demetae. Following the Norman invasion of Wales between 1067–1100, the region was conquered by the Normans and by 1138 incorporated into a new shire called Pembrokeshire after the Norman castle built in the Cantref of Penfro and under the rule of the Marcher Earl of Pembroke. In the year 360, a sudden series of coordinated raids by the Irish, Anglo-Saxons and Picts began; these continued as the Irish colonised the Isle of Man and resulted in a short period lasting until the 5th century during which Old Irish was spoken in the region: twenty stones dated to this period have ogham inscriptions. One bilingual Latin-Irish stone in Castelldwyran, near Narberth, has the name Votecorigas written on it. Dyfed may have occupied the area that bordered the rivers Teifi and Tywi, included contemporary Pembrokeshire, the western part of contemporary Carmarthenshire, with the town of Carmarthen.
Dyfed comprised at least seven cantrefi: Cemais, Emlyn, Cantref Gwarthaf, Pebidiog and Rhos, with an approximate area of about 2,284 square kilometres. During times of strength, the kingdom expanded to additionally cover the Ystrad Tywi, including Cydweli and Gwyr, bordered Brycheiniog. Dyfed lost the Ystrad Tywi region to another petty kingdom, in the late 7th century. During the "Age of the Saints", Dyfed may have had as many as seven bishops, called in Latin sacerdotes one for each cantref. However, by the High Middle Ages the Diocese of St David's emerged as one of only three episcopal dioceses in Wales, with St. David's covering all of West Wales and part of Mid Wales. Dyfed was subject to extensive raids during the Viking Age between the 8th and 11th centuries, causing social and political instability, with the Vikings establishing settlements in southern Dyfed. By the latter part of the 9th century, the rulers of Dyfed had grown cautious of the influence of the sons of Rhodri the Great, sought out an alliance and the patronage of Alfred the Great of England.
The precise nature of the relationship between King Alfred and the rulers in Wales remains unclear, whether a transitory alliance or a formal mediatisation of the Welsh rulers to the king of England. Historical attempts have been made to cast the relationship as one as a confederation of Christian unity on the isle of Britain, under the leadership of Alfred, against the heathen Danes. However, there evolved a significant degree of coercion according to Davies. "The recognition by Welsh rulers that the king of England had claims upon them would be a central fact in the subsequent political history of Wales," according to Davies. In about 904, Dyfed's ruler, Llywarch ap Hyfaidd, leaving his daughter Elen ferch Lywarch as his heiress. Elen was married to Hywel Dda, ruler of neighbouring Seisyllwg and grandson of Rhodri the Great through his second son, Cadell ap Rhodri. Through his marriage to Elen, Hywel incorporated Dyfed into an enlarged realm to be known as Deheubarth, meaning the "south part", went on to conquer Powys and Gwynedd.
However, both Powys and Gwynedd returned to their native dynasties on Hywel's death in 950. Hwyel's grandson Maredudd ab Owain recreated the kingdom of his grandfather, but his rule was beset with increasing Viking raids during the latter part of the 10th century, it is during this period that Viking settlements increased in the area in the cantref of Penfro, with other Viking settlements and trading station at Haverfordwest and Caldey Island in Dyfed. Viking raids upon the Welsh were "relentless", according to Davies, Maredudd was compelled to raise taxes to pay the ransoms for Welsh hostages in 993, in 999 a Viking raiding party attacked St. David's and killed Morganau, the bishop. Dyfed remained an integral province within Deheubarth until the Norman invasions of Wales between 1068-1100. In the Dyfed region, the cantrefi of Penfro, Rhos and Pebidiog became occupied by Norman overlords; the Normans influenced the election of the Bishops of St. David's, from 1115 onwards; the Princes of Deheubarth, Llywelyn the Great as the Prince of a virtual Principality of Wales from 1216, fought to recover the region until the Conquest of Wales by Edward I in 1284 settled the matter.
The 1284 Statute of Rhuddlan established the English counties of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire out of the region formally known as Dyfed. Archaeological evidence and theories from this period are dealt with in depth by Dyfed Archaeological Trust. In 1974 an administrative area was established in south west Wales called Dyfed, incorporating Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. Déisi Charles-Edwards, Thomas. Wales and the Britons, 350-1064. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-821731-2; the Irish settlements in Wales, Myles Dillon, Celtica 12, 1977, p. 1-11
Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds in the family Sturnidae. The name "Sturnidae" comes from the Latin word for sturnus. Many Asian species the larger ones, are called mynas, many African species are known as glossy starlings because of their iridescent plumage. Starlings are native to Europe and Africa, as well as northern Australia and the islands of the tropical Pacific. Several European and Asian species have been introduced to these areas as well as North America and New Zealand, where they compete for habitats with native birds and are considered to be invasive species; the starling species familiar to most people in Europe and North America is the common starling, throughout much of Asia and the Pacific, the common myna is indeed common. Starlings have strong feet, their flight is strong and direct, they are gregarious, their preferred habitat is open country, they eat insects and fruit. Several species live around human habitation and are omnivores. Many species search for prey such as grubs by "open-bill probing", that is, forcefully opening the bill after inserting it into a crevice, thus expanding the hole and exposing the prey.
Plumage of many species is dark with a metallic sheen. Most species lay blue or white eggs. Starlings have diverse and complex vocalizations and have been known to embed sounds from their surroundings into their own calls, including car alarms and human speech patterns; the birds can recognize particular individuals by their calls and are the subject of research into the evolution of human language. Starlings are medium-sized passerines; the shortest-bodied species is Kenrick's starling, at 15 centimetres, but the lightest-weight species is Abbott's starling, 34 grams. The largest starling, going on standard measurements and weight, is the Nias hill myna; this species can measure up to 36 cm and, in domestication they can weigh up to 400 g. Rivalling the prior species in bulk if not dimensions, the mynas of the genus Mino are large the yellow-faced and long-tailed mynas; the longest species in the family is the white-necked myna, which can measure up to 50 cm, although around 60% in this magpie-like species is comprised by its long tail.
There is less sexual dimorphism in plumage, with only 25 species showing such differences between the two sexes. The plumage of the starling is brightly coloured due to iridescence; some species of Asian starling have crests or erectile feathers on the crest. Other ornamentation includes brightly coloured bare areas on the face; these colours can be derived from pigments, or, as in the Bali starling, structural colour, caused by light scattering off parallel collagen fibres. The irises of many species are yellow, although those of younger birds are much darker. Starlings inhabit a wide range of habitats from the Arctic Circle to the Equator. In fact the only habitat they do not occupy is the driest sandy deserts; the family is absent from the Americas and from large parts of Australia but is present over the majority of Europe and Asia. The genus Aplonis has spread across the islands of the Pacific reaching Polynesia and Micronesia, it is a species of this genus, the only starling found in northern Australia.
Asian species are most common in evergreen forests. In contrast to this, African species are more to be found in open woodlands and savannah; the high diversity of species found in Asia and Africa is not matched by Europe, which has one widespread species and two more restricted species. The European starling is both widespread and catholic in its habitat, occupying most types of open habitat. Like many other starling species it has adapted to human-modified habitat, including farmland, orchards and urban areas; some species of starling are migratory, either like the Shelley's starling, which breeds in Ethiopia and northern Somalia and migrates to Kenya and southern Somalia, or the white-shouldered starling, migratory in part of its range but is resident in others. The European starling was purposefully introduced to North America in 1890–1891 by the American Acclimatization Society, an organization dedicated to introducing European flora and fauna into North America for cultural and economic reasons.
Eugene Schieffelin, chairman at the time decided all birds mentioned by William Shakespeare should be in North America. A hundred of them were released from New York's Central Park; the starlings are a social family. Most species associate in flocks of varying sizes throughout the year. A flock of starlings is called a murmuration; these flocks may include other species of starlings and sometimes species from other families. This sociality is evident in their roosting behaviour. Starlings imitate a variety of avian species and have a repertoire of about 15–20 distinct imitations, they imitate a f