973. Sturnus vulgaris humii

(973) Sturnus vulgaris humii Brooks.
THE HIMALAYAN STARLING.
Sturnus vulgaris humii, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed, vol. iii, p. 31.
The breeding area of the Himalayan race of the Common Starling extends from the Afghan and Baluchistan frontiers, throughout Kashmir, to the Simla States.
In Kashmir, where these birds are extremely numerous, its nests and eggs have been taken by every collector who has visited that State at all elevations between 5,000 and 8,000 feet, breeding in holes of trees and banks. It seems to have no choice as regards trees and very little as regards height of hole from the ground or description of hole. Rattray, Davidson and others told me that in every suitable tree, i. e., one with hollows in it, in and around the villages, the Starlings occupied almost every available hole, whether natural or made by Woodpeckers or other birds. Holes high up in the larger branches and holes quite low down were all alike seized upon by the birds and, in addition to these, many bred in the burrows of Kingfishers, Bee-eaters etc. in the river-banks. In the latter cases, as well as sometimes when Woodpeckers’ nesting- holes were used, the rightful owners were often evicted, though as a rule the Starlings were early on the scene and the holes they occupied were those of previous seasons.
The nest is nothing but an accumulation of all sorts of rubbish, straw, feathers, leaves, rags, grass etc., sometimes of considerable bulk, sometimes just a handful or so, upon which the eggs are deposited. Occasionally no nest at all is made and the eggs he on the bare wood.
A very curious site is sometimes selected by this Starling for its nest. All round many of the lakes in Kashmir there is among the new and growing reeds a dense bed of dead reed-stems and leaves, often many inches deep ; in this bed the birds either make burrows or usurp those made by other birds or animals, making a chamber therein at the end and laying their eggs on the bed of reed-chips. Betham seems to have been the first to notice this. He writes :— “My shikari told me that these Starlings nested in holes in thereed-beds and, on going round these in a boat, I certainly took eggs, out of the passages made in the dense reeds and saw the birds coining out. Regular holes had been made at the ends of tunnels and in these they bred.” Later other collectors confirmed Betham’s observations and proved that he had not been gulled by his “shikari” placing eggs in the tunnels and then showing them to him.
In Kashmir the birds breed from the end of April to the middle of June, most birds laying in the latter half of May ; in Peshawar Hume says that they breed in the end of April and in Kandahar even earlier still.
The eggs, which number four to seven, are like all other Sturnus eggs, a pale skim-milk blue, varying very little in depth of colour when fresh, but getting paler as incubation advances. I have one pure white clutch taken by Betham.
The texture is fine and close and the surface very glossy ; in shape they are long ovals, often decidedly pointed at the smaller end.
The variation in size is very great and occurs even among eggs in the same clutch, but it is possible that the birds sometimes drop odd eggs in other birds’ nests, especially when, as is often the case, two or three pairs are breeding in the same tree.
One hundred eggs average 29.7 x 20.5 mm. : maxima 35.0 x 21.4 mm. ; minima 27.0 x 20.3 and 28.0 x 19.2 mm.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2. 1933.
Title in Book: 
973. Sturnus vulgaris humii
Spp Author: 
Brooks.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
973
Year: 
1933
Page No: 
515
Common name: 
Himalayan Starling
M_ID: 
26855
M_SN: 
Sturnus vulgaris humii
Volume: 
Vol. 2
Term name: 
id: 
14071

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith