A bird one cannot help smiling at is the Pied Starling (Lamprotornis bicolor), called a Witgatspreeu in Afrikaans. They are endemic to South Africa and cover a large range – although do not appear to frequent urban areas. I sometimes spot them in the grassland on the edges of our town yet mainly enjoy their presence when visiting the Mountain Zebra National Park. This is where one can get very close to them to observe their antics.
Pied Starlings spend a lot of their time on the ground looking for insects which form the bulk of their diet. I once observed one catching and eating a spider that was walking across a lawn.
These birds are also known to eat fruit, nectar and seeds.
They are fairly large birds with an upright posture that allows one to see their white vent and belly. Very noticeable too are their white eyes.
The eyes of juveniles are dark, as you can see in the photograph below.
Their bills – black above and yellow below – sport a yellow wattle at the gape, which gives them a comical look as if they have a down-turned mouth.