White-cheeked Starlings prefer to live in open areas, like farmlands and urban regions, rather than in forests. With a body size between that of a sparrow and a pigeon, it serves as a benchmark for mid-sized birds. It has orange legs, a tail that is shorter than a sparrow's and its bill looks like that of the Common Hill Myna, which belongs to the same family as the White-cheeked Starling. It makes use of various voices and employs a call that sounds like "jyaaat" as a warning.
Play birds singing
Like wagtails, White-cheeked Starlings toddle and eat insects on the ground. In the fall they eat seeds, a common practice among small birds. They swallow the seeds with their thin bill and pass them without digesting them, a practice that helps to disperse the seeds to other locations.
White-cheeked Starlings will use tree hollows to make their nests, but due to a decline in suitable trees, they have recently resorted to finding narrow spaces amid human houses in which to make their nests.
Every summer, it seems as though there are news reports in Japan about an abnormal increase in White-cheeked Starlings. After leaving the nest, groups of young birds will flock to commercial areas, where they make their homes in trees. Based on their numbers, which can grow from several thousand to several tens of thousands, and the noise they make, it isn't surprising that people assume a population explosion.
But, estimating the real number of White-cheeked Starlings is no easy task, and the number fluctuates every year based on such factors as region, season and year. Many new-born birds supposedly do not survive the winter, which will result in a population decline.
When early spring rolls around, the birds will start to disperse in pairs and no longer gather in one place, at which time the media loses interest in White-cheeked Starlings (until the cycle begins again in the summer).
Although wild birds usually flock together in the fall, White-cheeked Starlings will gather in the summer, choosing to congregate in commercial areas. Due to the excrement they leave behind and the loud noise they generate, they are usually viewed by many people as a nuisance.
This photo is of a Brown-eared Bulbul. In some areas of Japan, like Okinawa, where there are no White-cheeked Starlings, the similarly sized Brown-eared Bulbul provides a benchmark for judging size. Smaller than a starling, the Brown-eared Bulbul has drab feathers and a longer tail than the sparrow. Its call sounds like "hee-yo" and the bird rarely spends time on the ground.
Canon sites where this bird is seen