Bali Starling (Leucopsar rothschildi) - Wiki
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[Photo] Bali Starling (Leucopsar rothschildi). Location: Bronx Zoo, New York - Author: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Stavenn
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The Bali Starling
, Leucopsar rothschildi
, also known as Rothschild’s Mynah
, Bali Myna
or Bali Mynah
is a medium-sized (up to 25cm long), stocky myna
, almost wholly white with a long, drooping crest, and black tips on the wings and tail. The bird has blue bare skin around the eyes, greyish legs and a yellow bill. Both sexes are similar.
Placed in the monotypic genus Leucopsar, it appears to be most closely related to Sturnia and the Brahminy Starling
which is currently placed in Sturnus
but will probably soon be split therefrom as Sturnus
as presently delimited is highly paraphyletic (Jønsson & Fjelds?? 2006). The specific name commemorates the British ornithologist Lord Rothschild, who described the bird in 1912.
The Bali Starling
is distributed and endemic to the island of Bali in Indonesia, where it is the island's only surviving endemic species. This rare bird was discovered in 1910. The other Bali's endemic, the Bali Tiger
, was declared extinct in 1937. In 1991, the Bali Starling
was designated the fauna symbol of Bali; its local name is kedis putih ("white bird").
It is a very conspicuous bird when seen from up close. In its natural habitat however it is far less conspicuous, using tree tops for cover and - unlike other starling
s - usually coming only to the ground to drink; this would seem to be an adaptation to the fact that it is instantly noticeable to predators when out in the open.
The Bali Starling
is critically endangered, hovering immediately above extinction in the wild for several years now (BirdLife International 2006). The last stronghold of the species is at Bali Barat National Park; about 1,000 individuals are believed to be held in captivity legally. In fact, the Bali Starling
is so much in danger that that national park has been set up just for the Bali Starling
's survival. The wild population was at an all-time low of just 6 birds
in 2001, after the late-1990s wild population of 3-4 dozen was reduced by poacher
s for the illegal pet trade. There is at least one well-funded armed gang with access to bomb-making equipment and possibly inside information that raided the local breeding and release facilities in the early 2000s. Continuing releases raised the number of wild birds
to 24 by March, 2005.
Its decline towards extinction has been caused by the urbanization of the island and by illegal trapping for the caged-bird trade; indeed, the number of captive birds
bought on black market is estimated to be twice the number of legally-acquired individuals in the captive breeding program. The Bali Starling
is listed in Appendix I of CITES. Trade even in captive-bred specimens is strictly regulated and the species is not generally available legally to private individuals. However, experienced aviculturalists may become affiliated with the captive-breeding program, allowing them to legally keep this species.
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