Flocking display by Purple-backed Starling

posted in: Roosting | 3

Following the earlier posting of the Daurian Starlings or Purple-backed Starlings (Sturnus sturninus) flocking, Kwong Wai Chong reported his encounter with masses of the these starlings (above).

“A very large flock of Purple-backed Starlings was seen at Lorong Halus about 6pm on 10th October. I counted more than 600 birds in one of the photos taken. As the photo covers only about 2/3 of the flock, I estimated that there were at least 900 birds! It was quite spectacular seeing them in flight and changing direction in unity.

“…there were many smaller flocks of Purple-backed Starling which arrived in waves. The large flock was first seen from a distance… Then, smaller flocks arrived at different times. Probably, the large flock was the result of all the smaller flocks congregating together for a common roosting place (above). Or could it be that the larger flock was broken down into smaller flocks? I can only guess as the fly-past was too fast and over too wide an area for me to see.”

There was also a very small flock of Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis) that happened to be around the same area at that time.

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3 Responses

  1. Nice shots Wai Chong. Peak passage through Singapore, for this species, seems to be between the last week of September and mid-October. On September 29th, I encountered a flock of about 1000 of these starlings, at the Botanic Gardens. However, nearly all pass through and do not spend the winter months here.

    Isn’t it sad that the Purple-backed Starling is one of 6 species not protected by law in Singapore! Simply because it belongs to the same family as the mynas!! Along with the Asian Glossy Starling and Common Myna, they should never have been includede as “pests”.

    Then again, what is the use of protection when the gun club seems to have the license to shoot anything and everything!

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  2. Many years ago, I’ve seen what look like a swarm of bees in the far horizon along the coast off Changi. It was later realised to be a gigantic flock of birds. Although unable to confirm now, they could be these purple-backed starlings.

    Yes, they should not be classified as pests. They are a wonder of nature passing through shores and a lovely and rare sight to behold!

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  3. Tou Jing Yi

    wow, large flock, the largest I saw before was only around 300 at PJ, this group is huge!!! Weird, in Ipoh, only saw them twice, first time 1 single bird within whole flock of Asian Glossy, second time oso only 6-7 I think, I asked around and seemingly Ipoh birders generally dont quite see them in Ipoh. It is however fairly common in PJ but rarely see large groups.

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