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Dutch Birding volume 25 (2003) no 6


Invasion of Rose-coloured Starlings in the Netherlands in 2002

The summer of 2002 was characterized by a major invasion of Rose-coloured Starlings Sturnus roseus in Europe. This article gives a detailed overview of this invasion in the Netherlands, where record numbers were observed. Both the temporal and spatial distribution are described (figure 1-2), as well as the course of the invasion. Most of the up to 47 individuals were recorded in coastal areas, mostly on the Frisian islands. The pattern of occurrence shows a peak at the beginning of June for adult and first-summer birds. In early June, two birds were present together in three instances (a happening witnessed only twice before in the Netherlands). At the end of August, the first juveniles were seen and from early September onwards most were juveniles. Despite the high numbers in 2002, no birds were reported in late autumn. Most individuals were associated with Common Starlings S vulgaris.

To minimize the 'loss' of records in this invasion year, all (37) adults and first-summers have been accepted by the Dutch rarities committee (CDNA), even when no or only limited documentation was available. In addition, four juveniles (out of 10 reported) have been submitted and/or accepted. The total number of birds for 2002 in the Netherlands is therefore at least 41 and probably 47. The best year before 2002 was 2001 with seven records (and six birds not submitted). From 1 January 2003, Rose-coloured Starling is no longer considered by the CDNA.

The occurrence of Rose-coloured Starlings during 2002 in the rest of Europe is also described, with estimated numbers given for most western European countries. However, by far the highest numbers were recorded in south-eastern Europe, where breeding took place as well. An estimated 14 000 pairs were found breeding in Romania and well over 2 000 pairs in Bulgaria. In Hungary, c 10 000 birds were seen but no breeding was established. In western Europe, several 100s of birds were observed, mainly in Britain and France (both over 150), Italy (c 250) and Scandinavia. Even Iceland recorded c 12 individuals. By contrast, only a few records were reported from (other) central European countries, Belgium and Finland, or from Portugal and Spain. This could be attributed to the north-westerly bias in the birds' migration which may have come to a halt in coastal areas.

Gert Ottens, Ganzebloem 14, 3984 CG Odijk, Nederland