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The Violet-Backed Starling Looks Like A Beautiful, Flying Gemstone

Amy Pilkington 29 Apr 2020

Starlings are nice enough birds, but if you happen to live in North America, they probably find themselves in the nuisance category more often than not. Which is fair, since they are an invasive species here and have a habit of pushing out native birds.

We have a New York pharmaceutical manufacturer named Eugene Schieffelin to thank for that. It was during his time as the chairman of the American Acclimatization Society that 60 European starlings were released in Central Park as part of a plan to bring every bird species name-checked by Shakespeare to the new world.

Thanks for that.

But while the European starling is a noisy, plain bird, its cousins around the world can be quite lovely.

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Exhibit A: the Violet-Backed Starling, which is also called the Amethyst Starling for obvious reasons.

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These beauties can be found throughout the woodlands and savannah forests of sub-Saharan Africa.

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Males have bright white bellies and incredible purple backs that become iridescent in the sunlight.

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Like most starling species, they tend to eat whatever they can get their hands on.

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In their native habitat, that means everything from insects, to tree frogs, to fruits and berries.

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Unfortunately, they also have the bad habits that have made starlings so invasive in North America.

Instagram | @mike_strydom_photography

When food is limited, they aren't ashamed to raid the nests of other bird species, stealing both nesting materials and hatchlings.

But hey, at least these ones are beautiful little monsters, right?

h/t: That Pet Place, Handbook of the Birds of the World

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