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Pagoda or Brahminy Starling

(Sturnus pagodarum/Gmelin)

Range: This native of Asia is found in eastern Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka

Description: Large black cap, extending down to the nape, composed of slightly elongated “crest” of slender and glossy feathers. Pastel reddish-brown face, sides of neck, throat and underparts, fading to white under tail. Upper parts are greyish-brown and flights are blackish. The tail has white tips. The beak, legs and feet are horn-colored. The length is about 8 inches (20.3 cm). The sexes are alike, except the female is a little smaller and has a shorter crest. Immature birds are generally duller in color with a sooty brown head lacking the crest.

These starlings are common in the wild and often appear in open fields and settlements.

As a typical member of the starling family it is a hole nesting species and its normal clutch is 3 or 4 blue eggs. Its preferred habitat is dry forest or scrub jungle. They usually make a thin nest of grass and feathers in the hollows of trees, but have sometimes been found nesting in the walls of houses.

They make a variety of croaking sounds as well as melodious flute-like tones, in addition to their gift of mimicry. They often hold their beaks against their breasts while singing.

In captivity these intelligent birds soon become very tame and hardy. They are omnivorous and can be fed a coarse insectivorous mixture, soaked bread, mynah pellets, and egg food, along with an assortment of fruit

Breeding results have been repeatedly obtained. The first breeding in captivity was reported by R. Farrar in Avicultural Magazine, No. 7, 1901, pp. 197-9. The birds readily accept a half-opened nest-box and line it with grass and feathers.