Spring is definitely in the air here in South Africa! The Starlings, who haven't been around for some time, were visiting the bard bath today. They provide such a beautiful, bright iridescent blue splash in the garden, it's difficult to miss them!
Starlings are frugiverous and insectivorous birds with strong, slightly curved bills and strong legs. They occur from Angola and Zambia to Southern Africa, where it is locally common across much of the region, excluding central Mozambique, the Karoo, Namib Desert and the fynbos biome in the Western Cape. It can occupy a variety of different habitats, especially wooded savannah, forest edges, riverine bush, plantations, parks and gardens.
It is a monogamous, cooperative breeder, meaning that the breeding pair may be assisted by up to 6 helpers, who often remain with them through many breeding seasons. It usually nests in tree cavities, either natural or excavated by woodpeckers or barbets, but it may also use a hole in a riverbank, metal pipe or even a post box used daily. It adds coarse material such as twigs into the cavity until the platform is close to the entrance, after which it adds a lining of dry grass, dung and snake skins. It often uses the same nest over multiple breeding seasons, in fact one breeding pair was recorded using the same site for 20 years.
Egg-laying season is mainly from September-February. It lays 2-6 blue or white eggs, which are incubated solely by the female. The chicks are fed by both parents and helpers, leaving the nest after about 20 days after which they remain with the group for at least week before finding their own territory.