Tag Archives: Metallic Starlings

Metallic Starlings

At the start of June only a small flock of immature Metallic Starlings remain on the property and these birds may stay in these environs for the winter months. For a week or so in April we had a large flock of mostly immature birds, swooping through our garden in a frenzy of feeding. We imagined the young birds were readying themselves for their flight north to spend winter in Papua New Guinea. The towering Melaleuca leucadendra in our garden gully provided a perfect venue for them to congregate in the late afternoon light while they preened and grabbed any available grubs.

Still sporting immature plumage but the eye is the slightly creepy solid red of an adult bird.

These highly sociable migratory birds which visit the Qld coast during their breeding season from Aug-Sept to April-May weave nests in a huge colony which they revisit every year. In the days before our revegetation efforts blocked our view, a huge fig tree was visible on the hills at the back of the property. Late in the afternoon we could watch huge flocks of Metallic Starlings dipping and swirling before coming to rest on their nests. For a few years a Brahminy Kite made its nest in the centre of the tree but the presence of a predator was not enough to cause the colony to find another tree. When the Kite was on it’s nest the colony was calm but any movement to and from would cause the Metallic Starlings to take off en masse and swirl around the tree until they deemed it safe to land again.

Metallic Starlings in a nesting colony.

Our orchard trees, especially the Mangosteens, benefit enormously from the attention of these active birds as they eat many of the caterpillars and grasshoppers which can cause substantial damage to the trees’ foliage. The birds also enjoy some extra sweet benefits from our orchard.

Adult Metallic Starling feeding on Black Sapote – Diospyros digyana

The spectacular iridescence of the plumage is clearly visible in this photo. While a large flock can be rather noisy and they do ‘take over’ an area, temporarily displacing other smaller birds, we still look forward to their annual arrival.

November News Snippets

White-browed Crake frequently calling to each other, flying low over the mass of water lilies and feeding along the muddy edges in the shelter of the sedge. Often they venture onto the lily pads, fluttering about to stir up the insects which they feed on as well as water lily seeds.
The Bush Stone-Curlew are still a family of 3 with their one chick now about adult size.
A single male Green Pygmy-Goose arrived and after some hesitant introductions he has attached himself to the trio although he is often observed trailing behind them.
Pheasant Coucal are obviously in full breeding plumage, their gurgling calls part of the late afternoons on a hot day in Spring.
The Metallic Starling nesting tree is lively with offspring of all ages, some nearly fledging while others are still being fed in the nest. And in the centre of this huge native fig is the Brahminy Kite nest with an adult sitting and the other not usually too far away.