Sonntag, 09 April 2023 15:00

VAN BALEN, S. & COLLAR, N. (2021)

The Vanishing Act: A History and Natural History of the Javan Pied Starling Gracupica jalla.

Ardea, 109(1):41-54 (2021).


The Javan Pied Starling Gracupica jalla, a recent taxonomic split from Asian Pied Starling G. contra, has disappeared almost entirely unnoticed from its native range in Java and Bali, Indonesia; in a circumstance unique in bird conservation, the only known populations are held in bird shops. To provide an evidence base for any future endeavour to re-establish a population in the wild, we reviewed all published information on the species relevant to its conservation, supplemented by specimen label data, unpublished field notes, diaries and manuscripts. A population in eastern Sumatra (nine localities reported, including Bangka) had obscure origins. The species was widespread in Java (168 localities) and Bali (13 localities), and was described as one of the commonest birds in open, i.e. non-forest, lowland country (records up to 1600 m), having a high tolerance of disturbed habitats, especially agricultural areas, with often large roosts inside city limits. It fed mainly on terrestrial invertebrates and fruits, often consuming plant pests and frequently probing dung. It bred all year but chiefly in response to rains, with apparent peaks in January and May in West Java and April in East Java, building conspicuous untidy nests high in trees and laying mostly 3 (2–4) eggs. The cagebird trade is blamed for the massive decline that abruptly became apparent in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but the use of pesticides in Java and Bali's agricultural environment seems likely to have played an unseen role. Searches are needed to find any remnant populations, along with the creation of a programme of captive breeding and research to identify potential areas for reintroduction.

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Using historical genome‐wide DNA to unravel the confused taxonomy in a songbird lineage that is extinct in the wild.

Evol. Appl. 2021 Mar; 14(3): 698–709.

Published online 2020 Nov 7. doi: 10.1111/eva.13149


Urgent conservation action for terminally endangered species is sometimes hampered by taxonomic uncertainty, especially in illegally traded animals that are often cross‐bred in captivity. To overcome these problems, we used a genomic approach to analyze historical DNA from museum samples across the Asian Pied Starling (Gracupica contra) complex in tropical Asia, a popular victim of the ongoing songbird crisis whose distinct Javan population (“Javan Pied Starling”) is extinct in the wild and subject to admixture in captivity. Comparing genomic profiles across the entire distribution, we detected three deeply diverged lineages at the species level characterized by a lack of genomic intermediacy near areas of contact. Our study demonstrates that the use of historical DNA can be instrumental in delimiting species in situations of taxonomic uncertainty, especially when modern admixture may obfuscate species boundaries. Results of our research will enable conservationists to commence a dedicated ex situ breeding program for the Javan Pied Starling, and serve as a blueprint for similar conservation problems involving terminally endangered species subject to allelic infiltration from close congeners.


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The distribution and spread of the invasive alien common myna, Acridotheres tristis L. (Aves: Sturnidae), in southern Africa.

South African Journal of Science 103(11-12):465-473.


The common myna is an Asian starling that has become established in many parts of the world outside of its native range due to accidental or deliberate introductions by humans. The South African population of this species originated from captive birds that escaped in Durban in 1902. A century later, the common myna has become abundant throughout much of South Africa and is considered to pose a serious threat to indigenous biodiversity. Preliminary observations suggest that the common myna's distribution is closely tied to that of humans, but empirical evidence for this hypothesis is lacking. We have investigated the relationships between common myna distribution, human population size and land-transformation values at a quarter-degree resolution in South Africa. Common mynas were found more frequently than expected by chance in areas with greater human population numbers and land-transformation values. We also investigated the spatial relationship between the bird's range and the locations of South Africa's protected areas at the quarter-degree scale. These results indicate that, although there is some overlap, the common myna distribution is not closely tied to the spatial arrangement of protected areas. We discuss the original introduction, establishment and rate of spread of the common myna in South Africa and neighbouring countries and contrast the current distribution with that presented in The Atlas of Southern African Birds. We also discuss the factors that affect the common myna's success and the consequences that invasion by this species is likely to have, specifically in protected areas.


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Freitag, 11 Oktober 2019 09:36

DAUT, C. (1908)

Verunglückter Wachtel-und Starenzug bei Bern.

Ornithol Beobachter 6 (2): 25-27.


"In der Nacht vom Mittwoch auf Donnerstag war die Bundesstadt Raststation einer ungeheuren Menge vorüberziehender Wachteln und Stare, die sich, schon totmüde, auf alles, was ihnen Halt bot, niederliessen. Viele dieser armen Tierchen, die wahrscheinlich weit hergekommen sind, wurden tot aufgehoben. Gegen Morgen wurde ihre Reise von neuem aufgenommen; jedoch blieb eine Anzahl solcher zurück, die nicht mehr fähig waren, die weite Reise fortzusetzen. Die Wachteln wurden korbweise vom Boden aufgehoben, auch in Hausgängen, unter Bänken und auf dem Dach des Bundeshauses hielten sich zahlreiche Wachteln auf.... Auch Stare liessen sich in grosser Zahl in Bern nieder, so auf der Kirchenfeldbrücke und im Bahnhof, wo die Dächer der Eisenbahnwagen dicht mit diesen Vögeln besetzt waren."


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© Peter Dollinger, Zoo Office Bern hyperworx