email a friend
printable version
Socotra Starling Onychognathus frater
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

Although this species may have a small range, it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Distribution and population
This species is restricted to Socotra, Yemen.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but surveys in 1993, 1999 and 2000 have found it widespread and locally frequent all over the island (up to 1,500 m), with a mean population density (based on transects) of c.7 birds/km2 in the post-breeding season (Davidson 1996, Kirwan et al. 1996).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

This species is social, highly mobile and apparently adaptable, being recorded from a broad range of habitats, although it appears to prefer methodical foraging in trees rather than on the ground (Porter and Martins 1996). The diet consists of fruit, seeds and insects (Porter and Martins 1996, Ripley and Bond 1966). It is often seen together with the more abundant Somali Starling O. blythii, which is a more conspicuous generalist and reasonably assumed to be a more recent colonist (Ripley and Bond 1966), but the possibility that the two species may be competing, to the detriment of O. frater, remains unproven speculation (Forbes-Watson 1964).

Extreme overgrazing and browsing might possibly have an impact on populations, but this seems unlikely to occur in the foreseeable future.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Davidson, P. 1996. Habitats and bird communities in southern Yemen and Socotra. Sandgrouse 17: 102-129.

Forbes-Watson, A. 1964. Report on the Smithsonian Institution ornithological expedition to Socotra.

Kirwan, G. M.; Martins, R. P.; Morton, K. M.; Showler, D. A. 1996. The status of birds in Socotra and Abd Al-Kuri and the records of the OSME survey in spring 1993. Sandgrouse 17: 83-101.

Porter, R. F.; Martins, R. P. 1996. Socotra Starling Onychognathus frater and Somali Starling O. blythii. Sandgrouse 17: 151-154.

Ripley, S. D.; Bond, G. M. 1966. The birds of Socotra and Abd-el-Kuri. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 151.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Harding, M., Fisher, S.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Onychognathus frater. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Sturnidae (Starlings)
Species name author (Sclater & Hartlaub, 1881)
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,600 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species