Pied starling

Pied starling
Spreo bicolor

Photo by Alan Manson (Mango Verde)

Common name:
pied starling (en); estorninho-de-ventre-branco (pt); spréo bicolore (fr); estornino bicolor (es); zweifarb-glanzstar (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Sturnidae

This species is endemic to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.

These birds are 25-28 cm long and weigh 90-115 g.

The pied starling is mostly found in open habitats, such as grasslands, pastures and arable land, also using rural gardens and dry scrublands.

They feed mainly on arthropods, such as ants, termites, beetles, dragonflies, grasshoppers, caterpillars, centipedes, solifugids, amphipods and ticks. They also eat small lizards, seeds, nectar, fruits, human waste and also road kill.

Pied starlings are monogamous, and can either nest solitarily or in colonies of up to several thousands. The breeding pair is often assisted by up to 7 helpers. They can breed all year round, but with a peak in August-January. They nests in tunnels in river banks, or also in holes in buildings, straw bales or natural tree holes, which are lined with plant materials and items of human waste such as paper and rope. The female lays 2-6 eggs, which she incubates alone for 14-16 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and the helpers and fledge 23-27 days after hatching. After fledging they continue to be fed by the helpers until becoming independent, 1 week later.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and is reported to be common to abundant. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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