This large Old World family of 112 species is distributed from northern Europe to islands of the West Pacific Ocean, with major centres of diversity in Africa and tropical Asia. They are smallish robust birds with typically straight, but often chunky, rather crow-like bills and powerful legs, which are longer in walking, ground-foraging species that in hopping, tree-dwelling species. More than most songbird families, starlings and mynas are generalized omnivores, most species feeding on fruit and insects, but also on frogs, worms, snails, nectar and seeds, including cultivated cereal grains. Indeed, many species have greatly benefitted from agricultural expansion and urbanization, and are now commensals of humans. Most species are social and gregarious, and some are among the most abundant of all bird species in the world, forming flocks of thousands, and even, millions of individuals, particularly at their roost sites. With so many birds arriving and calling, such roost sites are also very noisy places. Most starlings have harsh, unmusical songs, but some are accomplished mimics of the calls of other birds. The hill mynas, are renowned for their ability to imitate human speech. Sadly this has led to the trapping of many thousands of these birds for the cagebird trade. Bali’s only endemic bird species, the beautiful Bali Myna, was so heavily trapped that it is now extinct in the wild, despite protection under Indonesian law since 1970 and repeated releases of captive-bred birds. A self-sustaining population has now been established on Nusa Penida, off Bali, although the species is not native to the island.
Java is home to six resident species, and wintering grounds for another that migrates from China; five species occur in Baluran.
*Perling Kumbang (call)