Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Bali Starling in the Bag

Bali Starling has long been on my want-to-do list and it finally was ticked off that list today.
After a long drive from Denpasar, Bali, last night, I headed off this morning from the West Bali town of Labuhan Lalang with birding friends Bill Watson and Barbara De Witt, and our guide Hery, a park ranger at Bali Barat National Park. It was a 30-minute boat ride to a sandy bay in the national park.
Hery explained that there are only about 15 free-flying Bali Starlings left in their natural environment in the national park. A captive breeding program has worked well - about 100 birds are nesting in captivity and several pairs are released annually into the park. Poaching for bird collections was the initial problem, but following a successful crackdown on poaching, the worry now is predation by the likes of monitors and palm civets, numbers of which may have risen to unnaturally high levels. Two weeks ago, the last of the truly "wild" Bali Starlings in the national park was killed and eaten by a civet.
It took us about an hour to find our first Bali Starling, the bird above. It was unbanded, so it was either raised in the wild by captive-bred parents, or it was a genuinely "wild" bird that had escaped the notice of park authorities. Either way, it was impressive.
We saw a second bird briefly, then found a third, this one with rings on its legs, clinging to the wire of a large cage which park authorities have established to facilitate the reintroduction of captive-bred birds to the wild. Two pairs of starlings were in the cage during our visit, undergoing a kind of adjustment phase before being released into the park.

One of the rangers holds up a sign outside the park headquarters. They are a dedicated bunch battling against the odds. Let's hope their efforts succeed in saving this beautiful bird.


  1. That's great to read Greg! Looking forward to joining you all on Saturday. Please tell Heri not to forget to book me in the B&B and to pick me up from there my first day too.

  2. Hi Greg.
    If you want to see Bali Starlings in the wild then I recommend you visit Nusa Penida island, just 14km off the SE coast of Bali. The island has been transformed into an unofficial bird sanctuary by FNPF (Friends of the National Parks Foundation), a local Balinese conservation and community development NGO, founded by Bali's leading bird veterinarian Dr Bayu Wirayudha. To date they have released 75 Bali Starlings since 2006, and there are over 100 now flying and breeding freely. The island communities don't steal the birds, despite them being so valuable on the illegal bird market, because FNPF runs many projects that benefit the locals.
    You can
    Also, you can stay in FNPF's guest accommodation as volunteers or eco tourists.
    All the best ...