Where do the pink starlings live?
The pink starlings are singing migratory birds, having a beautiful plumage style, from a combination of black and with a tuft on the head. They live in large flocks, and in some regions they bring tangible benefits by helping a person fight the locust, which is capable of completely destroying crops in a short time.
Pink Starling Bird (LatinSturnus roseus) belongs to the family and genus of starlings, including nearly a dozen different species. The size of the bird is 19-24 cm, the wingspan adds another 12-14 cm, weight up to 90 g.
In males, the plumage is brighter: the pastel pink color is located at the bottom of the breast, on the abdomen, sides and back. And the head, upper parts of the breast, wings and tail are black with a greenish-purple hue, the paws have a dark red tint. A soft tuft of rising black feathers adorns the head.
The plumage of females differs in lighter shades of pink, a smaller tuft, and in feathery chicks they have a sandy or brown color. The color of the thick beak varies from black in summer to dark pink in autumn and winter.
In Russia and Ukraine since 2010this bird is listed in the Red Book to protect it from extermination.
These birds are widely distributed in the countries of Central Asia and Southeast Europe. On the territory of Russia and the former USSR countries, the range of pink starlings is the northern part of Siberia, the Caucasus and Transcaucasia, Kazakhstan, and the western regions of Ukraine. However, they spend the winter every year flying to Asia: India or Ceylon. Some of their species migrate to the south of Europe, others fly to North America.
These are public birds that nest and live in large colonies, which in the summer season can reach several hundred individuals.
They return from wintering in large flocks, settling in clusters at night, clinging to their neighbors. Nest sites arrive in April, forming flocks of several thousand pairs. Sometimes they gather together with other small birds (sparrows, ravens, etc.).
Starlings fly at high speed in large flocks, being close to each other, so they form huge “gray clouds” in the sky, which looks very impressive (as seen in the photo of pink starlings flying over the trees).
Every day they are sent to feed in the steppe, sometimes divided into several groups. Seeing the prey, they immediately fall to the ground with the whole flock and throw themselves on the moving waves of locusts.And the latter, soaring over the pack, fly forward, so the "cloud" seems to be rolling in waves.
With the danger of the birds gather in large communities and loud warlike cries drive away enemies. They are known for their fighting spirit when they evict other birds from busy nesting boxes.
Nesting and breeding
The breeding season of the pink starlings occurs in the steppes or semi-desert plains, where they can easily find food: various insects. Laying eggs and raising chicks occurs between May and July, since it was during these months that the maximum amount of the locust they fell in love with.
In nature, they arrange nests among the hills, in the rocks, in the cracks between the stones, in the burrows, which are dug on a precipice in the forest, less often in the hollows of trees. Often they settle under the roofs of houses or in birdhouses made for them by people.
The nests, where the pink starlings live, are landscaped with the help of plant stems, dry foliage and bird feathers. The female lays 4-7 eggs of light gray color, both parents incubate them one by one. Already after 4-5 weeks, the chicks, generously fed by locusts and other insects, begin to try to fly.Having learned to fly, young people join together in groups, which are gradually moving away from nesting places.
The benefits and harm of pink starlings
The pink starling brings benefits to humans by destroying a large number of insects to feed and feed the chicks. During the day, one small bird can catch and eat about 200 different large and small insects, as many of each parent catches for its younger generation.
Most often starlings eat ants, caterpillars, beetles, cicadas, butterflies and even snails. The most favorite delicacy is the locust, with which the bird cuts off the legs and wings, then hits the ground to soften and swallow. For this, he is loved and revered by all local gardeners and farmers, for whom the locust is a pest devouring useful plants and shoots.
Often, starlings fly in flocks when they detect clusters of insects that are destroyed to the last beetle or ant. According to the historical observations of biologists, they saved the crops in Kazakhstan in 1944-45, when the steppes were flooded with billions of individuals of the breeding locust, which the fighter measures and chemical insecticides could not cope with.
However, in some countries, especially closer to the fall, when they switch to plant food, these birds damage gardens and vineyards and mulberry trees. For example, in India, pink starlings can damage and devastate rice fields. Winemakers save their plantings with the help of home methods: wooden rattles, metal rattling sheets, basins, often in the vineyards they set up watchtowers to track the activities of the starlings.
However, the benefits of these birds in destroying locusts are many times greater than the damage from eating berries and plants.
Like some of his relatives, the pink starlings perfectly copy the sounds: the voices of other birds (crows, chickens or sparrows), dog barking, frog croaking, etc. They often try to imitate the whistle of people, car honks and other original sounds. Birds arriving from Asian countries can repeat the voices of subtropical birds, and those who visited the Kazakhstan steppes can imitate the bleating of sheep, the barking of dogs and even the click of a whip.
The very singing of the starlings does not at all resemble a melody, rather a squeal or rattle.
Shpak - a close relative of the rosy starling
The starling family numbers about 40 species. Most of them have a sharp straight beak, live in Asia, Africa and Europe. On the question of who is a relative of the rosy starling, any schoolchild can answer: it is an ordinary starling or shpak, spread throughout Europe and Russia, as well as North America, Australia and New Zealand.
It differs from the pink bird in its gray-black color with white specks and yellow beak, habitats and food rations (plant and animal). Unlike pink counterparts, shpaki live in small groups of several pairs. They settle in deciduous forests (like oak) near the water and small fields or meadows. Nests are arranged in hollows of trees, often live in cities near people in nesting boxes or dovecotes.
A variety of starling species
Besides shpak, there are other interesting types of these birds:
- Amethyst starling, living in North Africa, has an unusual iridescent blue-red plumage, feeds on insects and berries.
- Buffalo starling - differs from other species with a thick red beak and strong legs, with which it clings to the skin of buffaloes, parasitizing its skin in search of food.
- Swallow starling - inhabits the western regions of India, Australia, their lifestyle is similar to swallows.
- Red-winged starling is decorated with red inserts on the wings, has a large size (up to 30 cm).
- Black-winged or white-breasted, it lives in Indonesia, has a white torso, and the wings and tail are decorated with black inserts, the skin around the eyes is bright yellow in color, and feeds on fruits and insects.
Signs associated with the Starlings
Starlings are very common in nature, and people have long invented various proverbs and noticed signs that are associated with their behavior:
- a starling flew in - spring is coming;
- if the birds arrived early, then the spring will be warm;
- when they do not fly away for the winter, the autumn will be dry;
- after loud chirping it will rain at night.
Almost all types of starlings, incl. and pink, who live next to a person, have their own unique character.
Asian peoples since ancient times have revered pink starlings as sacred birds. Their deification, as well as some religious cults common among the Asian tribes, created for them the glory of the "children of the air."
It was connected with the invasions of the locust, which in the steppes always destroyed most of the harvest from farmers and nomads.People could not fight with these pests, because then there were no chemicals and insecticides that are now used in agriculture. Therefore, the locust invasions doomed entire settlements to hunger and poverty. Suddenly attacking whole clouds of birds with pink-black plumage destroyed the locust almost completely clean, thus saving people.
Therefore, starlings are worshiped by the envoys of good gods who help people.