It’s hard to miss this loquacious bird. The Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis) is usually seen squabbling noisily with its peers over some juicy figs. Its call is described by various sources as shrieks, screeches and a rusty chain clanging against a steel fence, with all in agreement that this bird can be a real pest, and not just for its noise—wherever it feeds, it leaves behind a colourful splatter of droppings.
Asian Glossy Starlings gather in flocks of around twenty birds, although they make enough noise for forty!
But most of all, it is the Asian Glossy Starling’s sociable, outgoing character that makes it irritating, because it congregates in big flocks for feeding, roosting, and mating. In these and other daily activities, these gregarious birds are unable to stop calling out to each other, and are even able to mimic the calls of other birds. You can recognise it by its glossy black-green feathers and bright red eyes. The juvenile though, is greyish-brown above and dull white with dark streaks on its underside.
The juvenile of the Asian Glossy Starling, unlike the adult, has grey and white feathers.
Well-adapted to urban areas, the Asian Glossy Starling loves figs, and other soft fruits and berries, as well as insects. In UM, you can spot it wherever there is a fruiting tree—try the fig trees around Tasek Varsiti, or around the Rimba Ilmu Main Building.
This juvenile Asian Glossy Starling is feasting on figs near Tasek Varsiti.