Norfolk Starling (Aplonis fusca)

Norfolk Starling

The story

The third extinct member of the genus Aplonis inhabited the islands of Norfolk and Lord Howe. Both these Tasman Sea islands have lost several of their endemic birds and the starling vanished during the first half of the twentieth century. The species has been divided into two races, the nominate from Norfolk Island and race hulliana from Lord Howe.

Although the reasons for extinction on Norfolk Island are unclear, it is quite apparent why the birds vanished from Lord Howe. They were among the creatures doomed by the grounding of a ship, the SS Makambo, in 1918 on a stretch of shore known as Ned’s Beach. Rats escaped from the vessel and quickly infested the previously ratfree island. Within just a few years the starlings were gone. Little is on record concerning the species. In the days of its abundance it was something of a pest, often feeding on fruit and crops. The nest was loosely built in a tree hollow from twigs and grasses. The birds laid 3-5 bluish eggs, speckled and blotched with red. Lord Howe birds went locally by the name cudgimaruk, a name derived from the call.

Authority and reference

Gould, 1836 || Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1836: 73.

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