Black-winged Starling

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Common Name: Black-winged Starling
Scientific Name: Acridotheres melanopterus

Size: 9 inches (23cm)

Habitat: Asia; Indonesia, Endemic to the islands of Java and Bali, Indonesia, also occurring on adjacent Madura and Nusa Penida, and (perhaps only as a vagrant or escapee) on Lombok.

Small flocks forage on the ground in a variety of habitats, particularly agricultural and livestock-grazed areas, chiefly in the extreme lowlands, although occasionally up to c.1,300 m in west Java and 2,400 m in east Java. It also inhabits primary and secondary monsoon forest, including teak forest (where it was locally abundant), forest edge and open woodland, uncultivated bushy valleys, and even (formerly at least) urban suburbs. Some flocks on Bali were thought to make significant local movements, following the flowering and fruiting of trees.

Status: Critically Endangered. Global Population: 1,000-2,499 Mature individuals with a decreasing trend. Capture for trade is the primary threat, and the main cause of its decline. A decline of >79% over the past 13 years is inferred from the increasing rarity of this species in the cage-bird trade on Java, as well as the paucity of records in the field. Given that demand for the species in the cage-bird trade is not likely to decrease, this rate of decline is projected to continue into the future. However, the numbers currently entering trade are worryingly low. This species is one of the most popular cage-birds on Java, an island famed for its huge bird markets and very high cage-bird ownership. It has also been suggested that excessive use of pesticides may present a significant threat, as the species habitually forages in open agricultural areas. Finally genetic integrity has been lost due to the widespread mixing of the three subspecies when birds escape.

The species has been nominally protected under Indonesian law since 1979. It occurs in at least three protected areas, Baluran National Park and Pulau Dua Reserve (Java) and Bali Barat National Park.

Diet: Feeds on a variety of items, including fruit, nectar and insects. It feeds in small groups and in pairs, both in trees and on the ground.

It roosts communally at night in groups, sometimes with other starlings like the Bali Starling. It is a seasonal breeder, although the exact timing of the breeding season varies by location. Birds in west Java breed from March to May, but in east Bali the season is around June. They are apparently monogamous, nesting in a twig lined hole amongst rocks or in a tree.

Breeding: Adults have a short white crest, naked yellowish or pinkish skin around eye and yellow bill and legs

Cool Facts: The species has often been assigned to the starling genus Sturnus, but is now placed in Acridotheres because it is behaviorally and vocally closer to the birds in that genus.

There are three recognized subspecies, the nominate race, which occurs across much of the island of Java, tricolor, which is restricted to south east Java, and tertius, which is found on Bali and possibly Lombok. The validity of the records on Lombok has been called into question, there are only a few records and they may represent escapees from the cagebird trade or natural vagrants.

Found in Songbird ReMix Threatened, Endangered, Extinct 3

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