Bali Starling Facts

03/04/2015 - Bali Starling's eggs

The Bali Starling lays two or three of these small blue eggs, about 1.5 cm in length in a well constructed nest of natural materials. It's about 14 days until they hatch.

Ref. : The 13 birds with the most amazing eggs

10/04/2015 - Hatching

Bali Starlings are naked and blind when they hatch. Their parents must keep them warm and feed them constantly during the day with an extra big feed at sunset to keep them full during the night. The parents are out early morning to find the first food.
Most young birds ask for food by opening their beaks and chirping. Both parents seek the food for their babies and put food into the open mouths. Each type of bird eats a different food, but the parents know just what to feed their babies. In the enclosures we also ensure that the parents are getting extra food when they have babies to look after.

Ref. : Growth charts for baby North American songbirds

17/04/2015 - Feathers

The featherless Bali Starling grows fast and within two weeks, has a body covered with feathers. The unique blue skin around the eyes is still a pale blue.

Ref. : Bird feathers

24/04/2015 - Ringing

Each bird in our collection has a closed identity ring, placed on the foot of a chick before the foot gets too big to allow a close fitting ring to pass over the claws. This ring number will identify the bird for life.
When we release birds we also place coloured rings on their legs, which will help us to monitor their activities – this was how we knew that three Bali Starlings were recently taking care of one pair’s chicks.

Ref. : Ring sizes and how to ring a bird

01/05/2015 - Fledging

At about one month old, the chick is old enough to be called a ‘fledgling’. It’s time to practice hopping from branch to branch, to spreading those wings and seeing how they work. Flying is an intricate skill, making decisions, avoiding obstacles, making quick turns, and learning to land. They are still very dependent upon the parents.

Ref. : Feathers were not just for flying

08/05/2015 - Favourite food

We have been monitoring the free Bali starlings from the day the first ones were released. During this time we have learned a few things about their activities. We know that one of their favourite food items in the wild is the Larvae of the Banana Skipper (Erionota thrax). They will select these before crickets or mealworms.
In these photos you can see the eggs, how the larvae hide and the butterfly which will hatch if the larvae are left to develop. What is remarkable is that our released birds find this source of protein on their own, and very quickly.

Ref. : Banana growers reel under pest attack

 

15/05/2015 - Courting couple

During the breeding season the males to attract or display for the females they get too excited and start bobbing their heads up and down and at the same time raising their long crest. It looks like the head bobbing of the hard rock singers when the music gets hard and loud.
All this action is accompanied by a soft and sweet song.

Ref. : The ten sexiest male birds

21/05/2015 - Monogamous

Bali Starlings have been considered to be monogamous after they choose their mate, and in captivity this is most likely a fact. In the wild, we have noticed that a female seems to seek the best mate, and it may not necessarily be her own. We observed one female, who lost her own mate, take another bird’s mate, and when he proved unsuitable, she once again found another. All down to survival of the fittest!

Ref. : Do birds mate for life?

29/05/2015 - The Nest

Where possible Bali Starlings choose holes high up in big old trees in which to build their nests. In the breeding and socialisation enclosures, we provide the breeding pairs with both material and nest boxes.

Ref. : The 16 most amazing nests built by birds

05/06/2015 - Nest building

Gathering nest materials can be a dangerous occupation, as both birds find materials on the ground - leaves, twigs, grasses. In the breeding enclosures we provide bamboo containers with a variety of collected materials, which quickly disappear into the nest box.
A change of partner may mean all old nesting materials are thrown out - 'house renovation', and the process restarted.

Ref. : Home, Sweet Home

12/06/2015 - Birds' calls

Bali Starlings are a gregarious species, who communicate with each other constantly through their song. At mating time, not only do the males bob their heads, but they become extra loud in their calls to their partners. The bird keepers have also learned to listen for the alarm call, and run to an enclosure when they hear the birds signal the alarm for a predator, as the birds alert each other to look out for what is often a snake.

Ref. : Do our European Bali Starlings sing a different tune than our Bali Starlings bred in Bali?

19/06/2015 - Birds' lifespan

Opinions differ as to the lifespan of a Bali Starling. Obviously, a bird in captivity lives longer – estimates range from 9 to 25 years. In the wild, predation and the variable weather conditions which may limit food supply mean that the bird lives a shorter life.Our oldest bird was born on 5th November 2000, the offspring of a pair imported from UK in 1999. This male is now over 14 years old. Two females still with us were born in 2002.

Ref. : How Long Can Birds Live?

26/06/2015 - Can young Bali Starlings live with their parents?

We can go home to Mum and Dad if we want to!
However, adult Bali Starlings who are actively breeding chase their young away and expect them to join the adolescent flock, where a young Bali Starling will find his or her partner. The focus of a pair of Bali Starlings is on their new offspring, and we have observed in the wild that eggs are laid very soon after the young have learned to fly and feed themselves.
In the enclosures we restrict the number of times they can breed in a year, but in the wild we encounter constant breeding.

Ref. : What happens to young birds after they leave the nest

03/07/2015 - Another look at feathers

Bali Starling feathers are mostly white, with black tipped wing and tail feathers. The whiteness of their feathers would lead a person to think that they are easy to spot amongst the foliage, but they become quite inconspicuous and difficult to spot once perching on a tree branch. Their whiteness seems to protect them and blends in with the background sky.
Keeping the feathers clean, and healthy is a matter of life and death for birds, for without the power of flight they will be easy prey. Providing water for baths is vital for their safety and well being. All our enclosures are fitted with small baths and we often see them enjoying their dip. Our photo shows a released Bali Starling coming back to the centre for a bath.

Ref. : 
23 Functions of Feathers

03/07/2015 - Another look at feathers

10/07/2015 - Successful breeding

In the wild, Bali Starlings have the opportunity to find their own partners when they start to fly, roost and feed together in small flocks. If there are too few of them in the wild, chances are this won’t happen. Once they find their mate, the pair leave the flock to start their own family.
In the Socialisation Enclosure, in an area 10m x 4m x 4m, we try to provide a habitat as close as possible to that found in the wild so that the young birds will pair by themselves and select their own mates. Planned pairings, we have discovered, are not so successful, so we are unpairing ‘unhappy marriages’, with good results.

Ref. : Double the trouble or double the fun?

17/07/2015 - Sharing spaces

In the wild, many bird species share the same habitat, feeding on different foods, and nesting in different spaces.
Our Bali Starlings enjoy fruit and protein from the surrounding trees and also feed on small lizards, geckos and even juvenile tokays on the ground. Unfortunately for our Bali Starlings, adult tokays raid their nests and feed on both eggs and chicks. Fruits which fall from the trees, disturbed by canopy feeders, are great for ground dwelling birds.
Several different bird species, including kingfishers who nest very close to the ground, came back to our area once the predator cats were removed.
In the Socialisation Enclosure, currently we only have Bali Starlings, so all is for their benefit alone. We are looking at the possibility of including a few ground dwellers in the future.

Ref. : How is Habitat fragmentation affecting Songbirds?

24/07/2015 - Bali myna(h), also known as Jalak Bali and Bali Starling

Just a bit of fitting etymology. A word, Madati means 'it bubbles’, 'it gladdens’. This became the Sanskrit word ‘Madana' – intoxicating, delightful, joyful.
In the 18th Century, the Hindi word was ‘Mainā’. And now we have the Myna – and the Bali myna is definitely a bird truly fulfilling the original meanings.

Ref. : Mynah

31/07/2015 - Bali Starlings walk!

Usually Bali Starlings walk! Most small birds hop, but the bigger the body weight, the more likely a bird is to walk. It takes a lot more energy to lift a large body to hop, but it also takes balance to walk as one foot is lifted after the other.
Most ground foragers walk, while arboreal feeders hop. Our starlings manage to feed both on the ground and in the trees.
Hopping is our Bali Starlings' movement when excited or playful, and the young chicks hop when they are play fighting with each other.
It’s a multi talented bird.

And just to add to the mix, our Wreathed Hornbills, which are quite large birds, hop, jumping with great leaps from branch to branch. Our parrots hop, walk, climb and crawl.

Ref. : Hopping in birds: Is the choice of gait influenced by cervical mobility and field of vision?

07/08/2015 - Flying

There are four types of wing shapes, all shaped for a slightly different purpose.
Our Bali Starlings, with no need to fly over long distances, have elliptical shaped wings, short and rounded, perfect for moving through vegetation and confined spaces, and for avoiding predators.
Just as a little extra information, the elliptical wing was first used on aircraft in the 1920s – a case of technology imitating nature.

Ref. : Flight Part 5: Wing Shapes

14/08/2015 - Softbills

The Bali Starling belongs to the Softbill group – seems a bit misleading as it does not refer to the beak or bill in any way. It actually refers to the bird’s diet, eating in the main soft foods such as fruit and insects. Of the six categories of soft food diets, our Bali Starlings are considered to be Omnivorous, as they feed on both animal and plant matter. Much like many of us humans.

Ref. : Hookbills, hardbills, softbills and waxbills - just the feathered factoids

21/08/2015 - Critically Endangered (CR)

The Bali Starling is a Critically Endangered species. This means that in the eyes of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there is a high risk of extinction in the wild. There are thousands in collections, and in breeding centres for sale, but nothing beats the sight of a highly endangered bird flying free. Our goal – to return the Bali Starling to the wild in sustainable numbers. No bird, with wings to spread, was born to live its life in a cage.

28/08/2015 - The official emblem of Bali

Each of the 33 provinces and special areas in Indonesia has both a floral and a faunal emblem. No more than one guess is required to know that the faunal emblem for Bali is the Bali Starling, designated as such in 1991.
The national bird, chosen for its likeness to the Garuda, is the Javan hawk-eagle.

Ref. : List of Indonesian Faunal Emblem

04/09/2015 - The First Western Awareness

Erwin Stresemann (22 November 1889, Dresden – 20 November 1972, Berlin) was a German naturalist and ornithologist, and the first to acknowledge the existence of the Bali Starling to the western world in 1911 in what it is now called Bali Barat National Park. The Latin name,Leucopsar rothschildi was given by Stresemann in honour of his sponsor for this expedition to Indonesia, Sir Walter Rothschild.

Ref. : About the Natural History Museum at Tring

11/09/2015 - Threats and alarms

When we spend so much time with one species of bird, in our case the Bali starlings, we tend to learn more about them, their activities, behavior, feeding habits and food preferences.
One of the most striking thing that we have realized is that when it comes to the bird’s reaction to threats, both captive starlings and free-flying ones have specific alarm calls for each different threat. 
We had to learn to recognise these individual calls.We grew tired of rushing to see what the fuss was all about when the birds sounded the alarm and we discovered it was just a harmless dog passing by.
We do, however, rush to the rescue when we hear the snake or cat alarm call.

Ref. : 
Bird is the Word: Nature’s Security System

18/09/2015 - Those bare patches of skin

Some species of bird, including the Bali Starling, have areas of bare skin such the one around the eyes. These bare patches have a number of functions - regulating body heat, showing the health status and age of the bird. A dark blue color in an adult Bali Starling shows that the bird is mature and health. The blue of a young bird is quite pale. The patches also show mood changes such as fear, nervousness ... and in some species promote a readiness for breeding.

Ref. : Wilson's Bird of Paradise

25/09/2015 - Bali Starlings Habitat

The habitat of the Bali Starling is the island of Bali. The bird was first seen by Westerners in the north west of Bali, where some birds still fly freely.
However, this bird is able to adapt extremely well, and seems to like whichever environment it is placed in, both the dry areas in West Bali and Nusa Penida, and the wetter area near Ubud. Not unlike humans, it requires a place to shelter, food resources, and a safe area in which to breed.

Ref. : Bali Starling Factfile

02/10/2015 - What does a Bali Starling need to be happy?

Our Year 4 SDN1 students have contributed this Friday Fact.
A healthy bird is a happy and active bird.
They need friends, food, water, a place to fly, sing and play, materials to make a nest, a tree to sleep in. With healthy bodies they can choose their own partners, and build a home and a family. We totally agree!

01/01/2016 - Other protein sources

Bali Starlings, when in the wild, need to find their own protein to supplement their fruit and veggies. Although insects abound, a small gecko is also a great source of available food.

29/04/2016 - Location, location, location

Birds are not unlike us humans, sometimes seeking familiarity when we leave home. Our wild born Bali Starlings were hatched near the bamboo buildings of Green School. With independence from their parents, the young pairs search for their own place to nest. Nearby bamboo buildings have proven to be their first choice for a home location. Luckily there is also plenty of nesting material and food available at these sites.

06/05/2016 - How to select a nest site

What seems to be important to our Bali Starlings when selecting a nest site?
Our free flying pairs have many choices. However, availability of nest materials, and fruit and insects seem to be important. They have also look at a number of different possibilities. Instead of choosing trees, our pairs have chosen holes in bamboo poles, with one pair moving, after a short time, from a noisy location to one more peaceful and quiet, more conducive to raising offspring. Not unlike us!

13/05/2016 - Protecting the nest box

Nesting birds in the wild are very protective of their area, and can become quite aggressive. Our young pair of Bali Starlings, establishing their first home out in the wild, do not tolerate other species and work to ensure that their home base area belongs only to them.

01/07/2016 - Parenting skills

It is necessary when there are young in the nest for the father to bring in food. However our young male Bali Starling, a first time parent, has also been seen carrying out the waste, thus keeping the nest clean for the family, and assisting to get rid of insects. The faeces are contained in a mucus covering sac, making it easier to transport.

Ref.: Droppings activate the immune system in nestlings

08/07/2016 - Communities need to protect endangered species

Critically endangered birds, such as the Bali Starling, need all the help they can get from local communities to continue to raise their young in small urban areas. Signs that bring attention to the birds in the area give the birds the chance to fly free, and the community the opportunity to be supportive.

15/07/2016 - Birds need water

Many birds get their water from their food, and fruit such as papaya is given to our Bali Starlings as part of their daily diet. They can also find water on leaves after a rainfall. We provide water for bathing within the enclosures, but our wild-born birds have found their own source of bathing water in the rice fields, where they can splash around in shallow water. A bath assists to keep feathers in good condition and will get rid of dust and dirt. After a bath, the bird will sit in a sunny spot, preen its feathers, carefully rearranging them and distributing a protective coating of oil on each feather.

22/07/2016 - CITES

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. There are 3 CITES Appendices, with species listed according to how threatened they are. As of October 2013, there are 153 species and 10 subspecies of bird in Appendix I, with both the Bali Starling and the Black-winged Starling listed here.

29/07/2016 - Bird Song

Some birds sing, some just make loud noises. Songbirds make up approximately 50% of the world’s bird species. They learn their songs and perform them using a voice box called a syrinx. Their songs serve to protect their territory, and attract and impress a partner by showing off. Songs are learned from parents while still in the nest, and then practiced to get them correct.
Our site at Sibang is full of bird song, especially in the socialisation enclosure where the main aim it to play and impress each other. 
We have a number of Bali Starlings which came from different zoos in Europe – it would be interesting to know if these birds were able to communicate successfully with those born and bred in Bali

11/4/2017 - Shy bird

Do you know that some birds can be a little bit shy, too? Yes, just like humans, some birds can have a shy personality too. Researchers have observed that “shy" birds tend to remain with the same flock and associate with fewer birds whereas “bold” birds forage for food with several groups of birds and maintain numerous short-term associations.
Who knew we have something in common.

21/04/2017 - Do birds sleep?

Yes, they do. One of many extraordinary traits birds have is their sleep pattern. It is called unihemispheric slow wave sleep and keeps birds alert to potential predators while still asleep. Other animals sleep this way, but only birds have the ability to control it. A sleeping bird can adjust how much of its brain is asleep by how wide it opens or closes its eye. Some may even be able to sleep while flying or sleep with one eye open!
Kind of makes you wish you could sleep like a bird, doesn’t it?

19/05/2017 - How birds communicate


One of the most common forms of bird communication is a call note. In small birds, call notes may sound like chirps, in larger birds, call notes may sound like squawks. Songbirds sing. Each species of bird uses a variety of call notes to communicate different messages. For example, one common call is to alert other birds to the presence of potential danger, another is to share information about food sources, which is what our Bali Starling looks like doing in the picture.

9/06/2017 - Bali Starling Behaviour


In its natural habitat a Bali Starling is quite inconspicuous, using tree tops for cover and - unlike other starlings - usually coming only to the ground to pick up insects, find water and nesting materials. This would seem to be an adaptation to the fact that, with its white feathers and blue eye surrounds, it is instantly noticeable to predators when out in the open.

16/06/2017 - What Do Birds Do When It Rains?

Birds can and do take shelter from rain, but this is usually a short-term solution, as they need to keep feeding and may also need to feed their young back in the nest. The contour feathers shed droplets off their back. An oil gland at the base of the tail helps keep the feathers zipped up watertight. The inner insulating layers of down feathers are able to trap air, holding in body heat. As the wet season here in Bali may bring days of heavy rain, we have both shelter and heatlamps to keep our Bali Starlings both warm and dry.

23/06/2017 - The Black Winged Myna

There are very clearly two distinct schools of thought when it comes to the Black-winged Myna (Acridotheres melanopterus), called Jalak Singaraja, Jalak Buleleng, or Pito in Balinese culture.

For more than a century, the species has been divided into three subspecies: melanopterus in West Java, tricolor in East Java and tertius on Bali. The main difference between these three is the extent of grey, white and black found on the back plumage. The further east one goes, the darker the back. Ornithologists have always recognized these three forms as closely related by affording them membership as part of the same species. In fact, genomic research carried out in the lab of Frank Rheindt, Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore, demonstrates frequent gene flow among the three populations in the recent past, corroborating that until recently the three forms were found with no clear boundaries. The rarity of the bird has led to their being seen as separate units.
A novel taxonomic treatment, recently proposed by Nigel Collar, has now upgraded all three subspecies to species level for IUCN listing, causing upheaval in the management and conservation of these birds.

If as suggested by most previous ornithologists, the three forms are minor variants of one species, then breeding this critically threatened bird becomes easier, with the difference being the greyer backs of those found in Bali. Do we need to have separate captive breeding populations or do we continue to search for, what might be called, a Bali endemic?

07/07/2017 - Egg Shape

We know eggs come in different sizes and colours, but seldom think that they are also different shapes! Read more on the following link
https://phys.org/news/2017-06-eggs-flight-driven-egg-shape-variety.html

21/01/2020 - Bill Wiping

Ever wondered why some birds (including our Bali starlings) wipe their beaks on a branch multiple times? Earlier studies found out that they do this behavior to clean up the mess after eating, almost like us using a napkin. They also found that the frequency of bill-wiping was affected by the stickiness level of the food. Apart from that, a newer study also hypothesized that bill-wiping can also spread their individual smell into the branch which is useful for attracting mates and avoiding rivals – almost like a dog marking its territory.

Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347205800764, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00265-014-1829-1

02/02/2020 - Hatching asynchrony

Bali starlings usually lay one to three eggs per clutch. Interestingly, it was reported that sometimes the eggs were not laid on the same day, consequently, the eggs will not hatch at the same day either. This pattern is called hatching asynchrony and can be found in different bird species. One of the predictions for this pattern is that an extended hatching period could provide the birds some time to escape when there is a high predation risk by sacrificing an egg and moving to a new nest. Safety first!

Source: https://bioone.org/journals/The-Auk/volume-134/issue-1/AUK-16-90.1/Hatching-asynchrony-in-birds--Multiple-nesting-attempts-and-the/10.1642/AUK-16-90.1.pdf

13/02/2020 - Song learning

While looking for the newly fledged chicks at our breeding centre, we often felt like it was a bit tricky to find them, especially because they did not make as much noise as the juveniles and the adults. It might be that they did not make a lot of calls because they wanted to hide and avoid predators or rivals. Another explanation is that probably the chicks still need to learn the songs from their conspecifics which they will use later to attract female and defend territory when they become adults.

Source: https://pages.vassar.edu/sensoryecology/european-starling-song/

19/08/2020 - Bali Starling's diet in the wild

One of the Bali Starling’s favorite foods in the wild are geckos! Seen here is a released bird delightfully munching on a gecko, finished within seconds! They ensure that their young chicks also enjoy them!

24/08/2020 - Feeding newborn chicks in the wild

Based on a CCTV footage we have from a camera that we installed in the nestbox in the wild, once the eggs hatched, the parents have been feeding the chicks up to 57 times during the day! 

31/01/2021 - Black-Winged Starling 

 

The black-winged starling, called Jalak Singaraja, Jalak Buleleng, or Pito in Balinese culture, is endemic to Indonesia. For more than a century, the species has been divided into three subspecies: melanopterus in West Java, tricolor in East Java and tertius on Bali. The main difference between these three is the extent of grey, white and black found on the back plumage. The further east one goes, the darker the back. Ornithologists have always recognized these three forms as closely related by affording them membership as part of the same species. In fact, genomic research carried out in the lab of Frank Rheindt, Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore, demonstrates frequent gene flow among the three populations in the recent past, corroborating that until recently the three forms were found with no clear boundaries. The rarity of the bird has led to their being seen as separate units. In 2010 the species has been uplisted from endangered to critically endangered by the IUCN.

28/02/2021 - The habitat of the Bali Starling 

 

The habitat of the Bali Starling is the island of Bali. The bird was first seen by Westerners in the north west of Bali, where some birds still fly freely. However, this bird is able to adapt extremely well, and seems to like whichever environment it is placed in, both the dry areas in West Bali and Nusa Penida, and the wetter area near Ubud. Not unlike humans, it requires a place to shelter, food resources, and a safe area in which to breed. Find out more about Bali Starlings on our website.

31/03/2021 - Critically Endangered  

 

The Bali Starling is a Critically Endangered species. This means that in the eyes of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there is a high risk of extinction in the wild. There are thousands in collections, and in breeding centres for sale, but nothing beats the sight of a highly endangered bird flying free. Our goal – to return the Bali Starling to the wild in sustainable numbers. No bird, with wings to spread, was born to live its life in a cage. Find out more about Bali Starlings on our website.

In its natural habitat a Bali Starling is quite inconspicuous, using tree tops for cover and - unlike other starlings - usually coming only to the ground to pick up insects, find water and nesting materials. This would seem to be an adaptation to the fact that, with its white feathers and blue eye surrounds, it is instantly noticeable to predators when out in the open. Head to our website via link below to learn more Bali Starling facts.

Bali Starling feathers are mostly white, with black tipped wing and tail feathers. The whiteness of their feathers would lead a person to think that they are easy to spot amongst the foliage, but they become quite inconspicuous and difficult to spot once perching on a tree branch. Their whiteness seems to protect them and blends in with the background sky. Head to our website to learn more Bali Starling facts.

Some species of bird, including the Bali Starling, have areas of bare skin such as the one around their eyes. These bare patches have a number of functions - regulating body heat, showing the health status and age of the bird. A dark blue color in an adult Bali Starling shows that the bird is mature and healthy. The blue of a young bird is quite pale. The patches also show mood changes such as fear, nervousness... and in some species promote a readiness for breeding. Head to our website via link in bio to learn more Bali Starling facts.

Each of the 33 provinces and special areas in Indonesia has both a floral and a faunal emblem. No more than one guess is required to know that the faunal emblem for Bali is the Bali Starling, designated as such in 1991. Head to our website via link below to learn more Bali Starling facts.

Did you know?
Bali Starlings, when in the wild, need to find their own protein to supplement their fruit and veggies. Although insects abound, a small gecko is also a great source of available food.
Learn more facts via link www.begawanfoundation.org

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