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The Story of Kuro: The World’s Longest Lived Domesticated Starling - P2/2    
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Lively viewers, welcome to another amazing episode of Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants, the conclusion of a two part series. “Kuro,” meaning “black” in Japanese, is the name of a wild baby starling that was rescued by Izumi Kyle in June 1981 when she was in the sixth grade. At the time she lived with her parents Keigo and Yoko Iizuka and siblings Ayumi, Megumi, and Nana in Toronto, Canada.

Kuro lived with the Iizuka family for 19 happy years, nearly four times the average lifespan of a starling! In fact, at age 18 Kuro set a record by being the world’s oldest living domesticated starling. When Kuro was a few months old, it was discovered he could say things like “good bird!”, “pretty bird!”, “kiss”, “Kuro stay!” and many combinations thereof.

She’s coming. Kiss. Good, good.

Yes, good, good.

Good, good.

I really love to whistle and so he would always sit on my shoulder and really listen intently on how I would whistle and mimic whatever I would whistle. He knew me as the musician in the family.

I don't think she realized that she was actually a bird. We were her family. So she assumed that she was one of us.

I don't think we realized she was a bird either!

She would walk and follow you around the house. It wasn't necessarily just flying. If you walked somewhere, she would be right behind, trailing behind, and keeping up the pace.

She often preferred to walk. I have memories of her racing across the living room floor, if you called her from one end of the room.

One day, Kuro unexpectedly flew away from home!

I remember it very, very well, where the front door was kept open, just a little bit longer (than usual) and of course the bird, curious, flew outside and immediately our entire family was in panic mode… “Where is Kuro, where is Kuro?” And I remember riding this red bike that I had around the neighborhood screaming Kuro’s name, trying to find this wild starling. It’s probably one of the most common starlings in Canada.

And as I look on the lawns, there’re all these starlings and I keep calling “Kuro, Kuro is that you?!” After about an hour of cycling around the entire neighborhood, I called at every starling that I could see and there was one in the tree and I said “Kuro!” and this starling didn’t fly away and this starling instead looked down at me and I’m like “Kuro!” And he slowly came down one branch and then finally when I had a good line of sight on the bird, I see the starling in his winter coat in the middle of summer, so I knew it had to be Kuro, because he would always have his winter coat in the summer.

So then I coaxed Kuro down and he was all wet. He had taken a bath somewhere and he came back to me and he said, “Good bird!” And that was it. And I grabbed the bird and I cycled home with one hand and brought Kuro back to our house. So that was probably the happiest moment in my childhood, finding my bird again.

When Kuro was three years old, his delightful presence helped the family during a challenging time and this led to a book called “Kuro The Starling.”

This book it was a family project that we took on one summer. My mother’s mother had fallen ill, so she had left for Japan. And there were four girls who were aged 12 to 17. And my father was left with four girls to manage. And we were all kind of struggling with not having our mother around.

And so he decided let’s do a little project together as a family. So we put together a manuscript. We wrote all the little stories of our experiences with Kuro and put them in little chapters. And luckily, a publisher, Nelson Canada took it on as a reader. And so it was a grade three reader, one of I think five books within the reading series. And so it was in the Canadian schools for many, many years as a little reader.

Being a brilliant bird, Kuro would rapidly learn nearly anything he was taught!

Here's a little picture of Kuro doing one of her tricks where she would fly through a hoop that we put between us. So she would do this with two people arm’s distance away from each other. But she would also fly through a hoop if we just created a larger distance between us. So, she was quite intelligent and she'd pick up what we'd want to teach her and she would get things pretty quickly.

This one is the motorized bicycle. And then there is a switch, leader switch. And whenever Kuro perched on this, she pulled this lever, and then she goes around. And she really enjoyed that, as if she is driving.

She could do other little tricks too. There is another photo of her, where she would play catch with us. So, my younger sister Ayumi here is throwing a grape for her to catch, and she would catch it in mid-air, like a dog catching a Frisbee, and eat the grape.

The Iizuka family had other animal companions in the house and Kuro loved them all.

The two of them were so intimate with each other. A great babysitter for Kuro and Kuro is babysitting the guinea pig. And then I took her out in the morning, and then they’d greet each other. The guinea pig ate Kuro's food and Kuro ate the guinea pig’s food. Dear Kuro actually loved everybody, every animal. When he was alive, we had three baby starlings we raised and then let them go. And then two robins lived together with us, there is a picture of the two together. And then a red squirrel, and then a duck, the baby duck.

There was one animal that she was more of like siblings with, the Love bird who loved to look at herself in the mirror. And we had a little Japanese doll that was like a kimono, and the kimono would open and it would be mirrors inside. So the Love bird would just love looking at herself in the mirror.

And Kuro would come along and slam the door shut, and then fly away, and then the Love bird would walk over again with her beak, slowly open the mirrors up again. Kuro would come back, slam the doors shut again with her beak. But they would hang out together. It was just a funny thing that Kuro would always do whenever the Love bird was looking at herself a little too much.

Kuro was very mischievous at times, but very playful.

Kuro lived an incredible 19 years with the Iizuka family before passing away peacefully in December 2000. We asked Izumi why she believes that Kuro lived so long.

Starlings in the wild, they can live anywhere from two and a half years to, potentially 10 years. They’re a very sturdy, adaptable species. I do believe, obviously, our entire family loving Kuro and my mother staying at home and really caring for the bird (is the reason). I remember many times coming home and if there was no food for the girls, she’d be like “Okay, let just get take out.” But if there was something missing for the bird, she would be the first one to drive to the store and get something for the bird, and make sure the bird was ok.

Here are some final thoughts on Kuro.

She just brought us together, and we never ever had issues with her.

She gave unique experiences to each of us that only our family would understand, living with a wild animal. So it's something we talk fondly of and that we lived through together. So it's something that we will carry for the rest of our lives and we were very enriched by having her with us.

I really appreciate Kuro.

Our heartfelt thanks Iizuka family, for sharing the wonderful story of Kuro and may this splendid starling’s story inspire more love, respect and care for our animal friends worldwide.

For more information on Kuro the starling, please visit www.StarlingTalk.com/kuro.htm Compassionate viewers, it was lovely to have you with us today on Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants. May divine melodies forever connect our hearts with Heaven.
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