THE BALI STARLING
Bali Starlings once common in Bali, are now one of the World’s rarest birds. Except for a small, and closely guarded, population in West Bali, and 60 odd birds, which have recently been released on a neighboring island, Nusa Penida, the Bali Starling is essentially, extinct in the wild. Only captive breeding programs have saved it from total extinction.
The most successful Bali Starling breeding program, is privately funded by the Gardner family, under the auspices of the Begawan Foundation. www.begawanfoundation.org We’ve known the Gardners for many years, and recently, having watched the Eco Lodge develop and mature, they offered to give us a breeding pair to start our own program.
For the Birders:
There’s been a lot of discussion about where Bali Starlings can, or will, live. When the Begawan Foundation proposed a release program for Nusa Penida, there were experts who argued they wouldn’t survive on the island, for various reasons from, capture by (very low income) residents, to predation by migrating raptors.
Apart from the perils of capture and death by eagle, the island is extremely dry much of the time, and there are few trees large enough to provide holes for nesting, so it is very heartening to see that recent survey of the released population on Nusa Penida, found their numbers are stable, and they are nesting opportunistically, wherever they can find a niche. One nest was apparently seen under the eaves of a house, and this is especially relevant because these are very low income communities, and each bird is worth a great deal of money on the black market.
To date, the release program on Nusa Penida, which is the only really wild population anywhere (the released birds in West Bali live in a tightly controlled environment), seems to be succeeding, and the Begawan Foundation wants to extend the program into new areas, on mainland Bali. It may be many years before we have enough birds, and the social environment is safe enough, for us to start releasing Bali Starlings, but overall, more breeding programs in more locations, can only be a good thing, for the survival of the species.
The Eco Lodge Program (March 2011 - April 2013):
The Bali Starling was mainly known to live in the hot and rather dry environment of West Bali.
Whether they’ll thrive here at 700m remains to be seen, however, Bradley Gardner, who’s invested an enormous amount of time and money, watching the program carefully over many years, believes Bali Starlings are opportunists that, undisturbed, will live almost anywhere on the island. Pak Bayu, the veterinarian working for the Begawan Foundation, who was in charge of the breeding program from the beginning, also believes they’ll do well at our altitude. On balance, we believe it’s worth having a go, so…
News Update May 2013: After trialing the Bali Starling breeding program for 2 years at the lodge without success, we have returned our Starlings to the Begawan Foundation. We hope to receive a pair of endemic parrots, for breeding soon.