Tristram's starling or grackle (Onychognathus tristramii) are among the last true residents of the Masada mesa. They are named after Henry Baker Tristram, a naturalist, archaeologist, and missionary to Palestine in the 1860s and 1870s.
These birds are a friendly lot, accustomed to visitors and handouts. They are found across Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East. Their dull grey to glossy-black coloration coupled with an orange stripe on the outer wing make them an easy identification.
As for Henry Baker Tristram, his name is attached to several bird species including a warbler, woodpecker, and petrel. Published works include The Natural History of the Bible (1867) and The Fauna and Flora of Palestine (1884).
Photo by Bible Land Explorer Adrienne Griffin.
Dr. Mark Ziese, Dean of the School of Bible and Theology at Johnson University, manages the website Bible Land Explorer and teaches regularly in the Biblical heartland. You are invited to join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean Cruise aboard the Celebrity Reflection in October, 2018. See the link here for details.