Pied Starling

Lamprotornis bicolor

The conspicuous Pied Starling prefers open habitats in hilly terrain (grasslands, arid scrub and agricultural fields and pastures). They are mainly insectivorous in their diet, but will also feed on fruit and seeds. They often associate with wild and domesticated herbivores, feeding on ticks and preying on insects disturbed by the movement of the large animals. Pied Starlings are about 27cm long and weigh around 100g.

Pied Starlings are gregarious, moving around in flocks that can number over a thousand, especially outside the peak summer breeding season. Pied Starlings prefer to nest colonially in tunnels in earth walls and river banks, which they line with soft plant material and discarded garbage. Clutches contain from 2-6 eggs (most usually 4) that are incubated by the female for two weeks. Both parents, and up to 7 helpers from previous broods, feed the chicks that fledge at between 3 and 4 weeks old.

Thanks to an abundant population, the IUCN considers the Pied Starling to be of least concern. It occurs only in Swaziland, Lesotho and South Africa (all provinces except Limpopo).

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