CHESTER Zoo’s pair of royal starlings – called William and Kate in honour of Prince William and Kate Middleton – have been renamed after keepers discovered both are male.
The birds, hand reared at the zoo, were named after the royal couple to mark their engagement in November - as their natural habitat is in east Africa near to where Prince William proposed in Kenya.
However, keepers have now discovered the pair are in fact of the same sex – forcing a name change to Billy and Nate.
“Royal starlings are very difficult to sex when they are young,” said Andy Woolham, team leader of parrots and penguins at Chester Zoo.
“They are what we call monomorphic, which basically means that both sexes are identical.
“The only slight giveaway is that males tend to have marginally larger heads and it was on that basis that we thought we had one male and one female.
“However, having now used their feathers to conduct accurate DNA sexing, we now know for certain that they’re actually both male”.
A planned royal starling wedding is now on hold but the zoo is optimistic it will be rescheduled soon.
“We’re now actively seeking to find a couple of ‘Kate’s’ to partner off with Billy and Nate,” added Mr Woolham.
“And if we’re successful then who knows, maybe a royal wedding of our own is still a possibility in the future”.