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White-faced starling

White-faced starling
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Sturnidae
Genus: Sturnornis
Legge, 1879
S. albofrontatus
Binomial name
Sturnornis albofrontatus
(Layard, EL, 1854)

Sturnus albofrontatus
Sturnia albofrontata

The white-faced starling (Sturnornis albofrontatus) is a member of the starling family of birds. It is an endemic resident breeder in Sri Lanka.


The white-faced starling was formally described in 1854 by the English naturalist Edgar Leopold Layard under the binomial name Heterornis albofrontata.[2] This species was previously placed in the genus Sturnus. A molecular phylogenetic study published in 2008 found that the genus was polyphyletic.[3] In the reoganization to create monotypic genera, the white-faced starling was moved to the resurrected genus Sturnornis that had been introduced in 1879 by William Vincent Legge.[4][5] The species is monotypic: no subspecies are recognised.[5]

For many years this species was erroneously believed to have been first described in 1850 by French naturalist Charles Lucien Bonaparte under the binomial name Pastor senex. Although Bonaparte had specified the location as Bengal, this was believed to have been an error.[6] An examination in 1997 of the specimen used by Bonaparte revealed that his brief description applied to Sturnus sericeus Gmelin, JF, 1789, the red-billed starling. The earliest description of the white-faced starling is therefore that by Layard in 1854.[7][8]


The adults of these 22 cm-long birds have green-glossed dark grey upperparts and whitish underparts. The head is paler than the underparts. The sexes are similar, but juveniles are duller, with brown upperparts and greyer underparts.

This passerine is typically found in tall forest, usually high in the canopy. The white-faced starling builds its nest in a hole. The normal clutch is two eggs.

Like most starlings, the white-faced starling is fairly omnivorous, eating fruit, nectar and insects.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Sturnornis albofrontatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22710844A94263620. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22710844A94263620.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ Layard, Edgar Leopold (1854). "Notes on the ornithology of Ceylon, collected during an eight years' residence in the Island". Annals and Magazine of Natural History. 2nd series. 13 (75): 212–218 [217]. doi:10.1080/03745485709496322.
  3. ^ Zuccon, D.; Pasquet, E.; Ericson, P.G.P. (2008). "Phylogenetic relationships among Palearctic–Oriental starlings and mynas (genera Sturnus and Acridotheres: Sturnidae)". Zoologica Scripta. 37 (5): 469–481. doi:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2008.00339.x. S2CID 56403448.
  4. ^ Legge, W. Vincent (1880). A History of the Birds of Ceylon. Vol. 2. London: Published by the author. p. 679. Title page is dated 1880 but the book was issued in 3 parts. Pages 345-730 were published in Sep. 1879. See: Zimmer, John T. (1926). Catalogue of the Edward E. Ayer Ornithological Library. Field Museum of Natural History, Zoology Series. Volume 16, Part 2. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History. p. 382.
  5. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (July 2023). "Nuthatches, Wallcreeper, treecreepers, mockingbirds, starlings, oxpeckers". IOC World Bird List Version 13.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  6. ^ Bonaparte, Charles Lucien (1850). Conspectus Generum Avium (in Latin). Vol. 1. Leiden: E.J. Brill. p. 419.
  7. ^ Mees, G.F. (1997). "On the identity of Heterornis senex Bonaparte". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 117 (1): 67–68.
  8. ^ Dickinson, E.C.; Christidis, L., eds. (2014). The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. Vol. 2: Passerines (4th ed.). Eastbourne, UK: Aves Press. p. 574. ISBN 978-0-9568611-2-2.
  • Grimmett, Richard; Inskipp, Carol, Inskipp, Tim & Byers, Clive (1999): Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.. ISBN 0-691-04910-6
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White-faced starling
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