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White-faced Starling Sturnus albofrontatus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Vulnerable because it has a small, severely fragmented population and range, which are undergoing a continuing decline as a result of degradation and clearance of humid forest.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Taxonomic note
Use of the specific name albofrontatus follows BirdLife International (2001).

Sturnus senex Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Sturnus senex Collar et al. (1994), Sturnus senex Collar and Andrew (1988)

22 cm. Medium-sized, grey starling with pale face. Adult has dirty white face, dark grey upperparts with slight green gloss and pale lavender-grey underparts with fine white shaft streaking. Some birds have nearly all white head. Blueish-brown bill, with blue base to lower mandible. Juvenile has whitish supercilium, ear-coverts and throat and dull brown upperparts. Dark grey underparts. Voice Generally rather silent except starling-like chirp.

Distribution and population
Sturnus albofrontatus is endemic to Sri Lanka, where it is restricted to the wet zone in the south-west of the island. It appears to have always been scarce, although possibly under-recorded, and is declining, with an increasingly fragmented population of no more than a few thousand individuals.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of recent records and surveys by BirdLife International (2001), who concluded that it is unlikely that it currently numbers more than a few thousand individuals. This estimate equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be decreasing at a moderate rate, in line with habitat loss and degradation within the species's range. The rate of decline is expected to be slower over the next ten years.

It is confined to undisturbed moist forest in the lowlands and foothills from 460-1,220 m. There are occasional records from forest-edge sites. It feeds on tree fruit, invertebrates and the nectar of the red cotton tree, commonly foraging in the upper canopy of tall trees in large mixed-species flocks. Little is known of its breeding ecology. It does not undertake seasonal movements, but is believed to cover long distances between its roosting and feeding-sites.

The main threat is the extensive clearance and degradation of forests, particularly in the wet zone, through logging, fuelwood collection, conversion to agriculture and tree plantations, gem mining, settlement and fire. As a primarily canopy dwelling species, it has been particularly badly affected by selective logging. Some protected forests continue to be degraded and suffer further fragmentation.

Conservation Actions Underway
It is legally protected in Sri Lanka. A moratorium was passed in 1990 to protect wet zone forests from logging. It occurs in several national parks and forest reserves, most notably Sinharaja National Heritage Wilderness Area. A survey of the biodiversity of 200 forest sites was carried out from 1991-1996.Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct a comprehensive survey to clarify its distribution and status and to produce management recommendations for this species in conservation forests and other protected areas. Research its ecology, particularly movement between forest patches. Encourage protection of remaining important areas of forest holding this and other threatened species, including proposals to designate conservation forests, and ensure their effective management. Maintain the current ban on the logging of wet zone forests. Promote programmes to create awareness of the value of biological resources amongst local communities.

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

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
Benstead, P., Derhé, M., Gilroy, J.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Sturnus albofrontatus. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

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 Vulnerable
Family Sturnidae (Starlings)
Species name author (Layard, 1854)
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 10,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species