The Black-winged Starling (Sturnus melanopterus) is an endemic bird to Java and Bali. Once common and widespread along Java Island, this species faced a massive decline since the 1960’s due to intensive trapping for the illegal cage-bird trade. The species is classified as CRITICALLY ENDANGERED and only few individuals remain in isolated areas in West Java and East Java. The species is divided in three subspecies, depending on their geographical range: the West Java, the East Java and the Bali subspecies.
CCBC started in 2008 a captive breeding programme for the West Java subspecies (Sturnus melanopterus melanopterus) with 21 individuals acquired from bird markets or privates. Currently, the population in CCBC is breeding successfully and the 2nd generation of offspring is already well established. To date, 52 Black-winged Starlings are present in CCBC.
CCBC provides to the birds adequate enclosure and diet to be able to breed. All the birds are also medically checked and treated to ensure that they stay free of diseases. Each breeding is closely monitored by the CCBC Team to ensure that the parents will feed the chicks accordingly. Once the juveniles are independent from the parents, they will join the juvenile group to socialize. The cage provided to juveniles is bigger so they can practice their flight and build up their muscles. Their future will be of two options: join the breeding system to increase the population size and genetic diversity in CCBC or be released into the wild.
Once a year and for a period of three months or more, the pairs will be separated and all females and males kept into single-sex group. This system allows them to rest after the breeding season. They will get access to a big cage where they could fly and recover from their exhausting breeding time!
“I am working with the Black-winged starling since 2008 and I learnt how to take care of this species in captivity. Compare to other species we house, the Black-winged starling is easier to maintain but attention should be paid to provide them adequate husbandry to ensure they will breed. Detecting a breeding stage (egg laying, hatching) without opening the nest box is something I learnt from all these 7 years taking care of them and I have now a special bond with this rare bird” Ajle, Senior Keeper
CCBC is proud to run a Reintroduction Programme for the Black-winged Starling since 2012, where individuals were successfully released into their historical geographic range.
The programme started in 2012 with 40 individuals translocated to a safe area in Halimun Salak National Park and released in 2013. To help the new-released individuals to survive into the wild, CCBC provided them food supply after the release and nest boxes so they have suitable nesting places. Monitoring is performed regularly to check the survival and behaviour of the birds. In parallel, a strong Education and Awareness Programme started on the release site with local people to encourage them to protect these birds and become the new “Black-winged Starling Ambassadors”. In April 2014, the first breeding into the wild was observed and, since then, the birds continue regularly to breed and the population size increases little by little. A new release also happened in 2015 to strengthen the population and bring new bloodlines.
The Reintroduction Programme is currently a big success and more releases in different sites will happen in the near future!