Asian Glossy Starling: 1. Claiming roof space

posted in: Morphology-Develop., Nesting | 0

The soft boards sealing the strip of roof projecting from my neighbour’s house fell off some months ago at two points. I expected either Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) or Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis) would claim these roof areas for nesting. But for weeks there was no sign of any of these birds entering the spaces.

Then, in the afternoon of 11th June 2014 I happened to notice an adult Asian Glossy Starling flying right through that first gap. It disappeared under the roof. I watched the gaping hole for some time but there was no sign of the bird. Pointing my binoculars at the opening, I was pleasantly surprised to see a starling at the entrance looking out (above left). It’s black plumage blended totally with the darkness of the roof interior except for its prominent red eye. It was panting as the afternoon was especially hot and humid. The above image (right) shows the bird with its partner by its side, the latter was only obvious after the image was enlarged.

Throughout the day one would guard the nest (assuming there was a nest), sometimes peeping out, waiting for the partner to return from foraging. When intruders came too near, they would be chased away.

Under proper lighting the pair appeared to be undergoing post-juvenile moult (above).

Early one morning an extra loud altercation alerted me to the presence of many adult and juvenile massing around the other opening. For a moment I thought they were roosting in that roof space. But it was not so. A few adults were nesting there, seen sneaking into the space nesting material (above) including an extra long twig that it failed to transport through the entrance hole.

YC Wee
Singapore
September 2014

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