Re: Colour mutation in common starling

Subject: Re: Colour mutation in common starling
From: WM James Davis <>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 1997 07:07:31 +1000 (EST)
   Sighting a rare colur-morph in a large bird population probably doesn't
have much biological significance for the starling population (probably
doesn't mean much in terms of local environmental problems either,
etc.).  However,if you live in the vicinity and can find the bird on a
regular basis it would be interesting to follow the fate of the bird.  As
you noticed its colour caught your attention and it likely to catch the
attention of other starlings, and any predator that eats startlings.
There is also the possibility that its behaviour may differ from the other
startlings -- it could provide some extraordinary bird watching.  For
example, I would be interested in knowing if this individual tries to stay
in the middle of its flock, or alternatively, do the other startlings try
to distance themselves from the it?  Was it successful at attracting
a mate?  There are many intriguing questions that can be address by
causal observations.
  If its colour is due to a genetic mutuation, perhaps
you'll start to find other morphs like it; if it is due to an
environmental contaminate you may observe other oddities, but they are
unlikely to look similar to each other.  For what it is worth, this is my
take on your observations.

Cheers, Jim 

On Mon, 18 Aug 1997  wrote:

> As a recent subsriber to this list, I have been enjoying the 
> discussion and the reports of sitings and trips. Members of the list 
> may be able to help with a question that has perplexed me for some 
> months. 
> Last summer while walking around Lake Wendouree in Ballarat I saw a 
> flock of starlings on the grass on the foreshore. One in particular 
> caught my attention. The upper part of its body was essentially 
> white/silver - this included head, chest, back. From memory the wings 
> were dark. Suffice to say this individual stood out from the rest. It 
> was clearly a starling.
> A report in the nature pages on the local paper two weeks later 
> reported a similar sighting in the same vicinity.
> I know they can get a metalic sheen but this one was definitely 
> "pied". 
> Any thoughts / comments?
> Geoff McArthur
> Ballarat East

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