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New longevity record for the Red-winged Starling


Dane Paijmans(2016-11-22)




A resighting of an old colour ringed Red-winged Starling (Onychognathus morio) (age: 18y 2m; ring number: D22802) (seen in the photo) was made near our offices here at UCT early last year. At the time I was a little apprehensive on verifying this record. Even though the colour ring combination was clear and easily matched to the individual, I was only able to see a few of the metal ring digits. Being that this would have been a new longevity at the time and that most colour rings do not last this long, I marked this individual as an unconfirmed sighting. Earlier this year the sighting was substantiated however when an older recovery (our new longevity) was reported with similar colour rings (a different combination).

The recovery was reported by a veterinary surgeon in the Southern Suburbs, Cape Town. The bird was injured and later euthanized on March 27, 2016. As it was initially ringed on April 4, 1997 it had a calculated minimum longevity of 19 years. Both of these individuals were part of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology's Red-winged Starling Project. This project was started in the 1990's by Morne du Plessis and ran for over eight years, recording the breeding and movements of this species on the University of Cape Town's Upper Campus. Although this project was not published it collected some valuable data of which a summary can be seen in Promerops 263, page 16.

As the longevity individual was initially ringed as a chick and ultimately recovered (recorded as deceased) this record will not surpass itself. The individual I saw however may still have a chance of exceeding the current longevity as it was first ringed as an adult and resighted looking active and healthy. If this individual is seen again it will become our new longevity record as it was first ringed in January 1997. Including our two old records; there were 270 Red-winged Starlings ringed on upper campus during the project (of the total 2830 ringed, 122 re-trapped and 120 recovered across Southern Africa). If you feel you know of an older record or come across and colour/metal ringed individuals please contact us with the details.
The photo included with this article is credited to myself and may be a little blurry.
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  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Passeriformes
       Family:  Sturnidae
             GenusOnychognathus
  7.5 years (Roberts 7)
  19.00 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Onychognathus morio D22870
  Common name   Sample size
 Red-winged Starling   Ringed: 2830  Retrapped: 122
  Recovered: 120  Total: 3072


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