Sunday, May 19, 2013

Why I Like Starlings

I am not afraid to admit it - I like starlings. No - I really do! I can hear most of my birding friends ask "Even if you did like them, why would you admit to liking these invasive noisy birds in a public forum?"

Well, I guess the short answer is that I went to Africa once. It was while I was in Tanzania that I developed my appreciations for starlings. No, not the European Starling pictured above, but the African versions of this family. They are gorgeous.
The starling family, the Sturnidae, has 112 species in 31 genera. Starlings were originally found in Africa, Eurasia, and Pacific Island, but some species have spread throughout the world.
My first experience with starlings on my trip to Africa was at the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. I found European Starlings flying around the terminal and realized that this was the first time I had observed this species as a native bird.
Then, when I arrived at the camp in northern Tanzania I was to call home for the next 10 days I truly came to appreciate starlings. This is why:

The Superb Starling was my first introduction to the more colorful members of this group. Their name was soon shortened to a mumbled "Sprb" whenever we saw one. Shortly after the Superb Starlings came the Hildebrandt's Starling:

Even better in my opinion.
Then the Greater Blue-eared Starling.

One other species of less showy starling I observed was the Ashy Starling:

Perhaps the most striking starling was one I didn't get a photo of. It is the Violet-backed Starling. An iridescent plum purple and white model that was unmistakable as is flew away from me. Here are a some photos of this one. See what I mean?
There are so many more species of gorgeous starlings in East Africa that I didn't observe last time - I guess I will have to figure out a way to try again.
More information on starlings (as well as all other species of birds) of the world including photos and videos for most species is this wonderful source - the Internet Bird Collection found here.


MTWaggin said...

Okay, now you've turned me into a Starling admirer. Glad you shared their more colorful cousins!

Bob Martinka said...


I agree! On my recent trip to the same regions, I got images of at least 10 different species - and they will be featured on my Flickr site when I get them sorted!! Beautiful!

Montanagirl said...

Wow - I didn't even know about any of these colorful cousins! Gorgeous photos.

Radiant Hen said...

I love these, but I also love the European Starlings. Very brilliant and beautiful birds as far as I'm concerned. :-) I love them so much, I wrote a novel looking at human behavior from wild birds' perspective - and a starling is the hero of the tale, "The Starling God".