The Javan pied starling (Gracupica jalla) is a captive in its own home. Thousands of these endemic songbirds once congregated in the safety of tall trees to roost after spending their days feasting on insect larvae. Today, however, the Javan pied starling is conspicuously absent from the wild, yet readily found caged in markets and houses across the Indonesian island of Java. In a recent study, researchers Bas van Balen of Dutch organization Basilornis Consults, and Nigel Collar of BirdLife International document the insidious disappearance of Javan pied starlings from across their native range. Like a pair of detectives, Van Balen and Collar combed through evidence to explain the starling’s disappearance. What they found were two possible culprits: overharvesting for the trade, and overuse of pesticides that kill the songbird’s prey. A Javan pied starling (Gracupica jalla) in the wild. Image courtesy of Khaleb Yordan. Java, the most populous island in the Indonesian archipelago, is known for its remarkable biodiversity and high species endemism. Overexploitation of natural resources, however, is transforming the Javan landscape and threatening indigenous flora and fauna. “Fifty to hundred years ago the Javan Pied Starling was one of the commonest birds in Java’s farmlands,” Van Balen said in an IUCN press release. “Now, no wild birds are known to survive in the wild. Just a few occasional [escapes] can be seen.” Drastic declines in native songbird populations across Asia, driven by unsustainable harvesting for the pet trade, have led experts to declare an Asian songbird crisis.…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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