Thursday, 22 May 2014

Bali starling

Leucopsar rothschildi

(Photo from Forum Iranvij)

Common name:
Bali starling (en); estorninho-de-Bali (pt); étourneau de Rothschild (fr); estornino de Bali (es); Balistar (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Sturnidae

This species is endemic to the Indonesian island of Bali, where it is now confined to the West Bali National Park. There is also an introduced population in the nearby Nusa Penida Island.

These birds are 25 cm long and weigh 85-90 g.

The Bali starling breeds in fire-induced open scrublands, tree and palm savannas and adjacent closed-canopy monsoon forest. In the non-breeding season they disperse into open forest edge and flooded savanna woodland. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 175 m.

They feed are omnivorous, eating various seeds, fruits up to the size of figs and papayas, insects such as ants, termites, dragonflies and grasshoppers, worms and occasionally small reptiles. They are also known to consume nectar.

Bali starlings are monogamous and form long-term pair bonds. They breed in January-April and nest in abandoned woodpecker nests or natural tree holes, lined with dry twigs. The nest is usually 4-10 m above the ground. The female lays 2-3 pale blue eggs, which she mostly incubates alone for 12-15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents, but usually only one survives until fledging. there is no information on the length of the fledgling period, but parents continue to feed the chicks for up to 7 weeks afterwards.

IUCN status - CR (Critically Endangered)
This species has a very small breeding range and a global population is possibly below 50 individuals. The wild population has been maintained only by release of captive birds, so is essentially gradually declining. However, signs from the reintroduced colony on Nusa Penida and West Bali National Park are promising, with both populations breeding and apparently increasing. This species was virtually lead to extinction by unsustainable levels of trapping for the international cage bird trade and even within the national park there were cases of armed men stilling birds from the captive breeding programme, because they can be worth up to US $2.000. Due to their very low population, other threats may include genetic erosion, interspecific competition, natural predation and disease. The species is protected by law and the only thing keeping it from extinction in the wild is the reintroduction of captive bred birds both in its natural range and in the nearby Nusa Penida Island.

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