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Golden-Breasted Starling: A Striking Beauty by Adrian Adams

The Golden-Breasted starling is a strikingly beautiful bird, vibrantly colored and highly visible in the wild. Considered by some to be one of the most beautiful of all African starlings, the Golden-Breasted starling has a deep green plumage on its head, a metallic blue back and tail, contrasting white eyes, wings of a rich blue-violet, and yellow across its breast, belly and upper tail covers.

Found in the northeastern parts of Africa, portions of Somalia, eastern Kenya, northeast Tanzania and Ethiopia, the Golden-Breasted Starling enjoys living in dry brushy woods and areas with thorn bushes, sticking closely to the upper branches of trees.

The size of the bird is typical of African starlings, having a slender body with a long, sloping tail. The beak is quite long and sharp, and both the male and female birds can grow between 12 and 15 inches long. Oddly enough, both sexes have the same coloring and shading, causing some difficulty for birdwatchers to determine the habits of each sex.

Young Golden-Breasted starlings have much duller tones during the first few months after birth, and are generally black with brown head and chest, and some green tints in various spots along the back. The birds live in small family groups consisting of 3 to 12 members, and tend to be rather noisy - they love to talk amongst each other! Calls range from subdued chatter to loud whistles, and much of this talk actually comes from the females.

Female Golden-Breasted starlings during breeding season will often attempt to beg for food from other members of the family group through a series of stances and vocalizing. On occasion, another bird may give her food, or the bird may choose to feed its own young - either way, the starlings' family group tends to care for all the group members at once, engaging in cooperative breeding where all members help to build the nests and feed the young.

Nests are built in tree holes, usually those created and then abandoned by other birds such as woodpeckers. They will line the holes with leaves and straw, and will lay 3-5 eggs after fertilization. For those young who survive into adulthood, Golden-Breasted starlings have a lengthy life expectancy of up to 14 years.

When it comes to diet, the starling will eat fruit and insects, preferring termites and other insects capable of flight. Starlings actually descend on the termite mound and open the tunnels using their beak so that they can reach in and grab the insects. In addition, Golden-Breasted starlings have been known to eat snails, crabs, and spiders. Oddly enough, starlings in zoo captivity are often fed cat or dog chow in addition to fruit!

Learn about the Brilliantly Colored Golden-Brested Starling at

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