Ian’s Bird of the Week – Metallic Starling ~ by Ian Montgomery
Here’s a local bird to welcome in the New Year: the Metallic Starling. The Common Starling has given starlings a bad name by being feral (introduced) in many parts of the world including Australia, South Africa and North America and feral (in behaviour) in its native Europe and Asia. Here’s an exotic tropical one to infuse a bit of balance. With strikingly iridescent green and violet plumage worthy of a bird of a paradise, a piercing red eye to make the devil envious, a long pointed tail and dashing flight, there’s nothing merely feral about this starling: see the first photo.
Like the Common Starling, however, they are highly social both in and out of the breeding season. They build large globular nests suspended in dense colonies in large rainforest trees. In Northeastern Australia they often nests in the introduced South American Rain Tree, like this one in Tully, halfway between Cairns and Townsville, where all of these photos except the last were taken (thank you, John Barkla). The second photo shows an adult visiting a nest and the yellow gape of a hungry chick begging for food.
Many fledged juveniles are often present in these colonies and these are strikingly different in appearance from the adults with their white underparts with bold streaks, as in the third photo, and could easily be mistaken for a different species.
In Australia, the Metallic Starling has a limited range along the north east coast of Queensland from the tip of Cape York to Mackay, but common only north of Ingham, where there is a colony in the middle of the main street. In Australia it is mainly a summer migrant, arriving in August/September and most have left by April, though some overwinter. The fourth photo shows a big flock of Metallic Starlings preparing to roost at sunset at Chilli Beach near Lockhart River on Cape York Peninsula.
If, like me, you are into symbols, I offer you the sunset as a farewell to 2010 and the new-born chick as a token of the New Year: I wish you a happy and healthy one!
Wow! What a gorgeous bird. I venture to say, that in person, it would be even shinier. Like Ian said, we only have the Common Starling here.
When I look at how the feathers shine it reminds me of these verses:
Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes. (Psalms 119:135 KJV)
But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. (Proverbs 4:18 KJV)
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. (Isaiah 9:2 KJV)
Starlings are in the Sturnidae – Starling Family of the Passeriformes (Perching Birds) Order. The Sturnidae family has 118 members and the only members here in the U.S. are Common Starling and the Common Myna. The family is made up of mostly Starlings, 24 Mynas, 1 Coleto, and 3 Rhabdomis (at this time).
To see all of Ian’s photos of the Sturnidae Family – Click Here
He has photos of the Metallic, Common, Spotless, Asian-Pied and Red-winged Starlings and the Common, Bank and Jungle Myna.
To see other Bird of the Week articles by Ian – Click Here