Date:October 21, 2020

The Violet-Backed Starling Looks Like A Flying Amethyst

This beautiful violet backed bird native to North America looks like a gemstone flying in the air.

Starlings are common birds and are considered nice enough to live around. However, if you are from North America, you might have a slightly different point of view.
These beautiful Violet-backed starlings native to North America often find themselves in the nuisance category. Which, to be honest, is fair since the specie is pretty invasive and usually push out other native birds from the area.

Instagram | @jeff.meredith

According to Smithsonian Magazine, Schieffelin, who “brought natural disaster” to the U.S., is responsible for giving starlings a bad reputation in the U.S. after he unleashed 60 of the European birds upon New York City in a romantic but ill-advised attempt to introduce every bird mentioned in Shakespeare to the North American continent. While the magazine reports that fed-up residents — and even the U.S. government — tried to get rid of the invasive starlings with speakers that emitted owl calls, rockets, and electrified fences, the European starling persists.

Today, there are around 200 million European starlings on the North American continent. And since their introduction to North America, they haven’t cultivated the best reputation. “Starlings will bully other birds, kicking bluebirds, flickers, and woodpeckers out of their nests,” Sarah Zielinski of Smithsonian writes. “They can consume whole fields of wheat and transmit avian, animal, and human diseases.” But despite how annoying starlings may be, they are an undoubtedly beautiful species of bird, and we should all take a moment to appreciate them.

Instagram | @zoo_snapper

For those of you with starling prejudice, just take a look at the violet-backed starling. Although the females are rather boring with their brown feathers and white bellies, the males live up to their name with their fantastically iridescent, plum-colored plumage. (The fancy scientific name for this — when males and females have very different physical characteristics — is dimorphism.) Unfortunately, bird enthusiasts and North Americans fed up with their own variety of starling, will have to travel to Africa to see these magnificent birds since the species is almost entirely endemic to the continent, according to eBird.

Both small flocks and pairs congregate there in woodland parks, open woodlands, and riverine forests where they can snack on fruit, berries, winged termites, and ants. With that said, there seem to be a few zoos in the U.S. that do hold the African Violet-backed starling, namely the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, both of which are located in Ohio.

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While BirdLife international reports that Violet-backed starling populations are declining in the aggregate, the species is listed as “least concerned.” That is in part because the species has an extremely large range, but also because the population of Violet-backed starlings is not dying out at a high enough rate to be considered endangered or vulnerable.

Regardless, please do not do what Schieffelin did back in 1890. Even if this article renews your appreciation for these birds, even if you love Shakespeare and even if populations are declining, do not unleash these birds into the wild in North America. They might be beautiful, but we already have 200 million starlings who cause enough trouble.

The Amethyst starlings can also be found throughout the woodlands and savannah forests of sub-Saharan Africa.

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As far as their diet is concerned, like most starling species, they eat anything and everything from insects to tree frogs, to fruits and berries. They also tend to raid the nests of other bird species, stealing both nesting materials and hatchlings when food is limited.