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Aviary Birds: the Violet-Backed or Amethyst Starling – Part 2

Amethyst Starlings in Captivity

Please see Part I of this article for information about the natural history of the amethyst starling.  More popular with European than American aviculturists, amethyst starlings (Cinnyricinlus leucogaster) are none-the-less regularly bred in this country.  In my opinion, those looking to expand their collection can ask for no more interesting an avian project than keeping a pair of amethyst starlings.  They will require a huge enclosure – one of our larger outdoor aviaries would be ideal – and indoor winter quarters in most of the USA, but are well-worth the effort.

Reproduction and Hand-Rearing

Incubation lasts for approximately 14 days.  The chicks fledge at day 18-22, after which they are fed by the parents for an additional 10 days or so.  Adult starlings have been seen to cover their eggs with leaves when departing from the nest.

The chicks, being ravenous feeders and taking a wide variety of foods, are not difficult to hand rear.  I have hand-raised chicks of the closely related European starling (see photos) for use in educational programs; without fail they became amazingly tame and confiding – curious about everything and a source of great pleasure for thousands of school children.


The appetite of the amethyst starling, like that of nearly all its relatives, is expansive and easy to satisfy.  They feed with gusto, and do best on a varied diet.  Diets I use in zoos and at home are based around such foods as myna and softbill pellets, fruit pudding, mixed fruits and vegetables and nearly any live or canned insect available.  An occasional dead pink mouse or hard boiled egg will be devoured with very evident pleasure.

Further Reading

You can read about the Jacksonville Zoo’s amethyst starlings at



Amethyst Starling image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by LTShears


  1. avatar

    When I clicked on the links above to learn more about softbill pellets and pudding it appears the food is too large for my finches to eat. Am I supposed to grind it up for them? With all my questions you can probably tell I’m new to having birds.

    Thank you


  2. avatar

    Yes, Fran, you can grind or break apart, or leave it to them…very soft – keeps them busy! best, Frank

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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