Somali starling (Onychognathus blythii)

Around the cave by the beautiful Detwah lagoon I found a large group of Somali starlings. They were congregating on the rock face around the opening and they were flying in and out of the area constantly, but I found no nests.

4 pairs are seen here and the female is clearly different than the all-black male, which makes it certain none of these are Socotra starlings as they normally do not socialize together. The all-black male resembles the endemic Socotra starling (both sexes are black), and many locals market these flocks as the rare Socotra starling, but they are not. The Socotra starling prefers the higher elevations, and has a different vocalization than that of the Somali. The Socotra starling is very mellow and single noted – just like the European bullfinch. A second identification feature is the tip of the tail feathers – opposed to these pointed tips, the Socotra starling has a flat tail-end.

So if you visit Socotra and wonder which is which – listen to their calls and you’ll have the answer.

Somali starling (Onychognathus blythii)

Somali starling (Onychognathus blythii)

It sounds like this:

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