Bali Starling

A few words about the Bali Starling, formally known by its Latin name of Leucopsar Rothschildii.  The ornithologist Dr.Erwin Stresemann discovered the species in 1912 whilst on a 2nd expedition to the Moluccas led by Baron Rothschild, hence the naming of the newly discovered avis in honour of the leader. As a member of the Family Sturnidae (starlings), it can also be called a “grackle” according to the Newton Dictionary of 1893. 

We decided to adopt the name Starling Villas in honour of this beautiful endangered mynah as it is becoming increasingly rare in the wild owing to poaching and destruction of its environment . The bird, also known as the jalak or curik by locals, is endemic to Bali and was once found commonly in West Bali. However, it can now only be seen largely in safe-breeding habitats such as those managed by the Begawan Foundation in Sibang near Ubud. Their sanctuary has some 74 birds in their breed-and-release scheme and we have started by making a modest donation to this project and will be making a larger lump sum donation this coming year to add to the number of dedicated enclosures to help the Foundation manage the breeding. According to some press sources, the Indonesian Nature Conservation Agency (BKSDA) is beginning to allow registered breeding by the public as long as the process is supervised so that could be a step forward in increasing the population.

The Bali Starling is a beautiful type of mynah measuring about 25 cms. with a white plumage complemented by peripheral black wing and tail tips. The most distinctive feature of the bird is its unusual blue banding around the eyes and the endemic birds have a most unusual, almost cobalt hue to these eye bands whilst those bred in captivity at major zoos around the world seem to have paler hues of blue across their eyes. Both males and females also have impressively long, droopy crests and are consequently popular in the cagebird trade. They can breed about 2~3 times a year but as the birds can fetch high prices close to USD 2000 in some cases, this kind of value means that it remains tempting for poachers to hunt for them and leads to their continued vulnerability. There are approximately 700 in captivity in zoos around the world ranging from Edinburgh to Warsaw to New Jersey so hopefully you might encounter one not far from your home.

Kadek and I hope that you will come to share our interest in preserving this rare Balinese bird and that we have your support in helping to provide a safer habitat for not only this bird but also for other endangered Balinese flora and fauna.
April 2012