Rose-coloured Starling

Sturnus roseus Linnaeus, 1758

Pastor roseus Temm., 1815: Reiser, 1894: 82.

Order Passeriformes

Family Sturnidae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Vulnerable VU B[1(a+c(v)) + 2(a+c(iv))], BDA-III.

General distribution. A Turkestan species distributed in the arid-steppe zone of Eurasia: from Southeastern Europe to Central Asia in the east.

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. There are data about breeding as early as from the end of 19th century, including the Sofia region [1, 2]. Most observations of breeding colonies are, however, from the Northern Black Sea coast [3, 4, 5, 6]. After 1985, most comparatively permanent breeding sites are in quarries around the town of Karnobat and the city of Burgas [7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14] and along the shore clifts of the Northern Black Sea coast [13, 14]. Colonies emerge irregularly in other parts of the country as well [14]. The numbers vary widely, in years of invasion of up to thousands of breeding pairs. The largest colony in Bulgaria was recorded in 1995 in the Bolata locality: 5 000 pairs [13]; together with the juvenily that left the nests in the middle of July about 30 000 birds were recorded in the region. During migration it is reported throughout the country (sometimes in flocks of thousands), most frequently at the end of May [1, 3, B. Nikolov, unpubl. data]; at that time of the year in the Sofia region the flocks usually fly to the northwest [B. Nikolov, unpubl. data].

Habitats. Ground and rocky shores, including coastal slopes; stone quarries; heaps of stones. Food habitats are varoius pastures and herbaceous associations, orchards.

Biology. A colonial species: the colonies in Bulgaria are sized between 10-40 and 5 000 pairs [3, 13]. The nests are situated in rock cracks [4]. Usually 5-6 grey-blue eggs are laid [4]. After fledging, the adults often continue feeding the juviniles in specific "kindergartens" [4, 13]. Orthopterans are the preferred food for the species, mostly grasshoppers [10, 13, 15], as well as the fruits of varoius trees [10, 12, 13, 16].

Similar species. The Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris).

Negative factors. Extraction of inert materials in working quarries. Disturbance during the breeding period. Direct persecution close to orchards. Use of insecticides.

Conservation measures taken. Protected according to the Biological Diversity Act. Included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria (1985). Partial studies on the biology, the ecology, and the numbers of the populations. Some of the regular breeding sites of the species are within the Kaliakra Reserve.

Conservation measures needed. Informing the local citizens about the positive role of the species for the elimination of harmful insects. Multi-aspect and detailed studies, monitoring of the tendencies in the numbers of the species.

References. 1. Patev, 1950; 2. Hristovich, 1890; 3. Boev, 1985; 4. Nonev, 1977; 5. Petrov, Zlatanov, 1955; 6. Mautsch, Rank, 1973; 7. Nyagolov, 1996; 8. Nyagolov, 2004; 9. Profirové Zenova, 2000; 10. Miltschew, Tschobanov, 2002; 11. Milchev, Dimitrov, 2005; 12. Nyagolov et al., 2003; 13. Shurulinkov et al., 2003; 14. Iankov (ed.), 2007; 15. Nankinov et al., 2001; 16. Konigstedt, Robel, 1977.

Author: Boris Nikolov

Rose-coloured Starling (distribution map)

Rose-coloured Starling (drawing)