Mostly due to it’s equatorial location & abundant fresh water, the sheer density of wildlife in Uganda can make your head spin. There are (well) over 1000 confirmed bird species found in the country alone. And what birds, some of them look like runway models! We have already looked at the Violet-backs & Red-wings, so today lets meet another handsome member of the starling family, the Wattled Starling (or Creatophora cinerea).
Birds of Fashion
In this type of starling the physical difference between genders is not always as obvious. While mature males do develop their namesake black wattle, young males & females can be difficult to tell apart (to the layperson anyway). Were it not for this handsome wattle, these birds may not have been remarkable enough physically to make our list.
The Wattled Starling breeds in colonies & being so sociable, may also share them with Cape Weaver birds. Their nests are always built in trees or bushes & are generally found at least 3 feet off the ground (but can be as high as 30 feet up). Generally speaking, breeding seasons are linked to abundant food (mainly insect) supplies & entire colonies have been abandoned (with chicks in the nests) when artificial control measures destroy locust swarms near their breeding grounds.
Like most starlings, the Wattled Starling is an omnivorous bird, meaning they eat mostly fruit, along with a variety of invertebrates & insects. In fact, their favorite food is locust & they have been coined the ‘locust bird’ in some areas (anything that eats locust can be seen as a blessing). Like the Red-wing, this starling is quite the opportunist when it comes to food, as they are often seen savage at dump sites or removing parasites from livestock.
The Wattled Starling has an extremely large range & can be found throughout the savanna lands of Southern & Eastern Africa.
We are excited to embark on this fun new series of posts & can’t wait to share more about the amazing bird species that make up the diverse wildlife of Uganda. Stay tuned for more to come & in the meantime, perhaps you should come visit Uganda & meet some of them for yourself!