Balcony Birding: Whoosh of the Rosy Starlings


I don’t remember seeing them in our area before or I was not aware of their quiet & super swift presence. This spring I noticed them during my balcony birding and since I had read about them, I was quick to identify.

They look like tiny specs of black dancing through the skies. The best place to watch their aerial dance is in open (uninterrupted) expanse of land. Buildings allow only a sneak peak and by the time you notice them they are gone in a blink. Photographing them from the balcony was a big challenge; I even tried the terrace but in vain. You can manage a quick capture only if you are super alert as from where they will come, how swift they will be and how much view you may get of them is unpredictable. It took me a fortnight to get some decent shots of them. Since I do not use telephoto/zoom lens it was a greater challenge. Nevertheless I am happy with what I could capture.

Kutch & Jamnagar in Gujrat (India) are the best places to see their murmuration.

They look undisciplined & messy but somehow it keeps them from colliding with each other during the swift turns, dives & swoops. What the naked eye sees is a shape made of black spots swaying happily to a tune in the sky.

They spend less time in their breeding range & spend most of the year in their migratory range.

The movement of the starlings is known as murmuration (“…..murmuration refers to the phenomenon that results when hundreds, sometimes thousands, of starlings fly in swooping, intricately coordinated patterns through the sky…”) and its a wow moment if you get to watch it. Apparently this highly synchronized choreographic movement is a defense mechanism to keep themselves safe from predators.

The black and pink beauty

The Rosy Starlings or Rose colored Pastor (Pastor Roseus) are migratory birds who fly in from east Europe and central Asia and spend their winters in India & other tropical Asian countries. The birds arrive between August and early December, and can be spotted until April. They get the name from the light pink-rose colored body.

Phew, managed to catch a few of them in the sunrise frame

The best time to spot them is dawn and dusk. To capture their pink body you got to catch them just after the sun has fully risen. The window of spotting them then is short though. This winters I hope to see and photograph them in their roosting space.

They’re the first migratory birds to arrive in India and the last to leave.

A close cousin are the mynahs with whom they have no issues in sharing their living space, In fact, the Rosys are highly sociable and believe in harmonious community living.

Tiny black specs swaying in the clear blue sky.

For the farmers they are natural pest controllers as they feast on locusts, grasshoppers and other pests. This coincides with their breeding time. Whereas once they migrate to India, they feed on fruits, berries & jowar (white millet).

Do watch out for the next post on another species from my #BalconyBirdingList

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Monika Ohson | TravelerInMe

This published post is being shared as part of Happy #WW
#WordlessWednesday with Esha and Natasha

36 responses »

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    • Hi Jeanne. They love being together — community living so they go around in big groups. These are really mini groups. You must check their videos to see their countless numbers . . ..


  5. I wanted to write about the migratory bird who came to our balcony for a ‘rest’ . We called in a birder to rescue the Ballion’s Crake that was flying from Africa to China and stopped in our balcony for a day’s rest! Poor chap must have been really tired.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Another beautiful collection of photos from you, Monika! I find these starlings simply amazing and especially their synchronic movements in the sky along with their murmuration so spellbinding. I’ve noticed the unique callings and the music of the different species of birds during the last three weeks here in Bangalore, something that usually gets drowned in the honking of cars and other vehicles moving up and down the road. You’ve created quite a fantastic collection of bird photos and information in your blog, Monika. So glad you’re joining us every week with your wonderful collection. Let me tell you I loved all the shots you’ve shared here, but the sunrise shot was my absolute favourite. You must frame it up. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Esha for your compliments on the sunset photo……. coming from a fantastic sky girl its such a delight!

      There is a quote on birding which is very close to my heart and is a mool mantra, “In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.” In fact the lockdown has brought many close to nature. The birds have suddenly found new friends 🙂

      I have seen ~36 or more bird variety from my balcony ….. all thanks to the Semal tree. I had a similar experience in Pangot.

      The starlings are brilliant in their moves. Where did you see them & their murmuration? Hope to witness them in uninterrupted landscape & of course their roosting spot.


  7. I had the good fortune of seeing plenty of starlings- especially the stunning Superb Starling (in Africa). They would literally come eat off our hands in the meal zones. Will share pictures soon.

    That apart managed to see quite a lot of starlings, swifts and swallows on my 12 day jaunt to the forests last year, when I was studying about wildlife and their identifying features.

    Thanks for this lovely photo gallery, Monika. The part of Delhi you are located in is teeming with nature. Be blessed!

    Love and light!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow Natasha, they are so brightly colored. The Africa wildlife experience apparently is extremely rich. Please do share their pics and ones from your birding experience.

      This study on wildlife was under Pugdundee Safaris?

      Rightly said Natasha, I actually feel blessed. Nature & me are soul friends.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Will definitely do, Monika. I just hope I can figure out ways to make more space on my Mac, which is currently running out of space and not letting me download photos/videos.

        Yes, it was our Professional Naturalist Program (PRONAT) by Pugdundee Safaris, where I curate content.

        Same here, nature and I are indeed best friends. :))) Hi-five to that!

        Have a lovely weekend!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Veronica. I have not been able to make their video with buildings posing as big time hindrance. Like you I have been awestruck watching their videos on SM. I hope we both get to see it in person soon 🙂


  8. Hey Monica! So glad to see that these cutie Rosys are the visitors of your locality too. I first noticed then a couple of years back in my locality while going for a walk, initially, I couldn’t identify them later I searched for the ID to find that they are Rosy Starlings and read about their migratory behavioural pattern. Since then every year during this time I keep following their movement starting from their arrival to departure. Alas! No sooner they arrived this year before capturing them in my camera we were prisoned in our home and I am not sure whether will be able to meet them before they start their journey back home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I noticed them this year Sarmistha! Oooooooh the lockdown and so many dreams on hold na. Never mind do wait for their arrival in August thru Dec. Do they flyovers or have roosting places in your locality? I would love to capture them in the latter. The flyovers are very tricky and frisky in cityscape and they made me toil quite a lot 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. So many birds – so hopeful! They are wonderful photos of the stars, I love the time when they come home from their winter quarters!
    Thanks a lot for your nice comment, yes – the Cherryblossoms are in my garden!
    Have a nice day and stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

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