Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Special birds: Rose-coloured Starling

Adult breeding Rose-coloured Starlings Sturnus roseus, particularly males, are striking birds. They have bright pink, rosy, body feathers and glossy black wings, tail and hood, finished off with a shaggy crest. They occur almost every year in roving flocks, usually hundreds, sometimes many thousands, in the Balkans and as far north as the Hungarian Plain. These "invasions" arrive in May and by June it is usually clear whether or not they are going to stay to breed in colonies or head back eastwards from where they came. Thus, in breeding years they are fairly easy to see in lowlands in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, but otherwise rather unpredictable. In breeding years they are often gone again by late July. The key factor in all this seems to be food. In years with large numbers of grasshoppers and locusts Rose-coloured Starlings set up colonies in farmsteads, abandoned buildings and haystacks. This photo was taken by Dan Petrescu at a breeding colony in Romania.

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