Saving the Bali Starling

January 04, 2012
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Thousands of birds enjoy the tropical islands of the Indonesian archipelago, but only a few species can call themselves natives.

One is the Bali starling, a critically endangered species that is endemic to Bali. This striking white and sapphire blue bird has not expanded its range much since scientists first discovered and recorded it in 1912 — it can only be found on the island, mostly throughout the northwest third of it.

The bird's limited range is one reason for its endangered status — the other is poaching for the illegal cagebird trade. A number of efforts have been made to reintroduce captive-bred birds to boost the population, and now a number of organizations in Bali are working on education programs to tackle the problem of the illegal bird trade. There are currently only 10 Bali starlings left in the wild, but conservationists have established a captive assurance population of about 1,000 birds.

Luckily for those visiting Bali Bird Park on International Expeditions’ new Bali to Komodo expedition cruise, an ornithologist-guided excursion through this tropical garden will likely reveal a number of the starlings. Birders should look for the nearly all-white bird's black wing and tail tips as well as the bare, cobalt blue skin around its eyes.

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