SHARP-TAILED STARLING – THE HOLY GRAIL OF THE CAPRIVI STRIP

Many a trip report to the north of Namibia and along the Caprivi Strip has been written without a record of Sharp-tailed Starling having been ’ticked’ in this otherwise starling-rich area.

Come summer, Violet-backed Starling are common while Cape Glossy and Greater Blue-eared Starling are resident along with Burchell’s and Meve’s Starling at various points within this area of mixed woodland and patches of riparian forest along the Kavango river.

Sharp-tailed Starling were first recorded by myself way back in 1987 when a feeding flock of adults and immature birds were located in a Wild Fig Ficus sycomorus on the banks of the Kavongo River at Katere some 80kms east of Rundu. Sharp-tailed Starlings appear to be closely associated with well-developed woodland and are reminiscent of a Red-winged Starling in profile with a wedge-shaped as opposed to rounded tail. Overall colouration is iridescent and appears green rather than blue when compared to the other ‘blue’ starlings found in the area. Breeding details are still sketchy but confirm that holes in trees in Baikea-Pterocarpus woodland are utilised during the rainy season with Dec/Jan being the peak period. The bird photographed for the record was feeding fledged young at the time in typical broad-leafed habitat.

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