Annual appearance of migrant starlings

posted in: Migration-Migrants | 4

On 15th November 2008, KC Tsang was at his favourite haunt, the Bididari Cemetery:

“There were hundreds of starlings up in the sky this morning at my favorite haunt, Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis) mainly. However, among the flying hoards, we noticed there were some that was quite different from the usually black starlings.

“These were the Daurian Starlings a.k.a. Purple-backed Starlings (Sturnus sturninus) that are supposed to be common winter visitors and passage migrants (above).

“…we also pay attention to these flying hoards just in case we find some rarities…”

Two weeks later Chow Ngian encountered several flocks of starlings along Tampines Ave 12, adding that “they seem to be very nervous birds because they never remain still for long and they move in waves from tree to tree.” He wondered whether they could be White-shouldered Starlings (Sturnus sinensis) (left).

According to our bird specialist R Subaraj, they were actually Purple-backed Starlings “…the males of the White-shouldered Starlings have the whole shoulder as one large white patch while females have grey shoulder with the white line at the bottom of the shoulder patch. Females also have grey rumps while these show white rumps.

“…Purple-backed Starlings do occur in large flocks, mainly as passage migrants; flocks can be 2-3 hundred strong!

“White-shouldered Starling is an uncommon migrant that annually occurs in small flocks, usually on their own but sometimes in Purple-backed flocks. They are larger and males are obvious. They are found each year in the Lorong Halus/Ponggol area but we also have records from a few other areas.”

4 Responses

  1. Subaraj

    Yeow Chin,

    Slight error here….the description that I gave, “males of these starlings have the whole shoulder as one large white patch…..” refers to White-shouldered Starlings but comes across in the article as a description of Purple-backed Starling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.