20 March 2013
Meet the Locals #3
(Lousy weather in town the last few days so forgive another dip into the archives.........)
RED CHEEKED STARLING (Sturnus philippensis)
A male Red Cheeked Starling , also known as Chestnut Cheeked Starling and Violet Backed Starling.
This is the more interesting of the 2 breeding starling species here in Japan. It isn't well known outside the region, in fact it only breeds in north Honshu, Hokkaido and Sakhalin (The Russian island to the north of Hokkaido) where it is a summer visitor. It winters is southeast Asia. There are no subspecies or races.
As you can see the male is a stunning bird and is very photogenic, especially during the cherry blossom season.
The female is rather plain compared to the male but not without her charms.
They arrive in Hakodate in the last week of April and are in fact a very common urban bird, there is a colony in Goryokaku Park and several smaller ones along the river. They are pretty much everywhere in summer in a variety of habitats including the forest at Onuma and Mt Hakodate. All these shots were taken within a 10 minute walk of my apartment, they are probably the most conspicuous bird of early summer.
The young leave the nest in late June and there is always a frenzy of activity in the local bushes. The adults are busy bringing them all kinds of bugs...........
And fruits too..................
The youngsters just sit around looking comical waiting to be fed...............
And then after late June they completely go off my radar. Once the young have fledged they all flock together in skittish family groups of 20 or so and suddenly become very wary and are lost in the summer foliage. My main view of them after early July is small tight flocks flying to roosting sites just before sunset.
They leave in late September to spend a winter in the sun..................
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Labels: Red Cheeked Starling