Starlings, called Rishola in Kurdish, are winter birds and they come to Kurdistan every winter before they fly away in spring.
They are small to medium-sized passerine birds in the family Sturnidae. The name "Sturnidae" comes from the Latin word for starling, Sturnus. Many Asian species, particularly the larger ones, are called mynas, and many African species are known as glossy starlings because of their iridescent plumage.
Although, many of these beautiful dotted birds were seen in the Kurdistan Region's rural and even urban areas as well as they were flying over the area in groups, but their numbers have recently dwindled dramatically, especially this year.
Regarding the drop in the numbers of starlings in the Kurdistan Region, Abas Muhamed, who works at the bird market in Erbil, said: "It is true, the travel of starlings to the Kurdistan Region has dropped a lot unlike the past years, where these birds would be seen more often in the mountains and plains of the Kurdistan Region.. This year's winter, our nature was completely empty of starlings which is a rare and odd phenomenon!"
He pointed out that the drop in the numbers of starlings is closely related to being illegally hunted and then sold in markets.
Another bird trader of the Erbil bird market, Abdulrahman Rasul, who has worked in the poultry business for 15 years, believes that these warning numbers of this bird are an indication of the change in the nature of the Kurdistan Region as these birds can hardly find any food and the summer fires contribute in that matter as green areas have decreased.
Regarding the bird migration, an expert in environmental matters, Hardi Khalid, said: "If you look at the cities from far, especially a crowded city like Erbil, you will see a cloudy and dirty sky formed by the daily activities of humans.. Of course, such environment is unfit for birds to live in including starlings."
"Besides the bad conditions of the environment, snowfall in the mountainous region is another reason for the difficulty of finding food which is pushing the birds to migrate to other areas. As for the plain areas, rainfall was delayed this which caused a delay in the greening process of natural lands and this caused another delay in winter birds' migration," he added.
For his part, Nazim Qadir, who is an expert farmer in Erbil, said that starlings give a beautiful view to the nature of the Kurdistan Region and have many benefits to the agricultural lands as the bird feeds from the worms that are bad for crops.
The farmer called on the Kurdistan Region's government to announce instructions before winters to prevent hunting of these birds because this will prompt the birds to not migrate to these regions again.
Reported by Taha Abdullah