Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Chestnut-tailed starling

Binomial name: Sturnia malabarica, Johann Friedrich Gmelin, 1789

The chestnut-tailed starling or grey-headed myna (Sturnia malabarica) is a member of the starling family of perching birds. It is a resident or partially migratory species found in wooded habitats in India and Southeast Asia. The species name is after the distribution of a former subspecies in the Malabar region. This resident population has a white head and is often treated as a full species, the Malabar starling (Sturnia blythii).

Taxonomy and distribution

The lack of monophyly in the earlier starling genera has led to this species being placed variously under genus Sturnia, Sturnus and Temenuchus in the past (Zuccon et al., 2006) and studies have suggested the reuse of an old name Temenuchus for members of this clade. Later studies have suggested placement in the genus Sturnia.

There are two subspecies of the chestnut-tailed starling:

  • S. m. malabarica: North-eastern India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and north-western Burma
  • S. malabarica nemoricola: Southern China (incl. Taiwan), Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia

Both the nominate subspecies and nemoricola are known to perform some poorly understood movements (e.g. S. m. malabarica has been recorded from Pakistan and in central and southern India).

The taxon blythii is now usually (e.g. Rasmussen & Anderton, 2005) considered a valid species, the Malabar white-headed starling or white-headed myna (Sturnia blythii), instead of a subspecies of Sturnia malabarica. As S. m. malabarica only visits the range of blythii during the non-breeding period (winter), the two are not known to interbreed. However a molecular study found the genetic divergence between S. malabarica blythii not significantly greater (between 0.2% and 0.8%) than between the sisters S. malabarica malabarica of northern India and S. malabarica nemoricola of Burma and Vietnam.

Description

The adults have a total length of approximately 20 cm (8 in). They have grey upperparts and blackish remiges, but the colour of the remaining plumage depend on the subspecies. In the nominate subspecies and blythii, the underparts (incl. undertail) are rufous, but in nemoricola the underparts are whitish tinged rufous (especially on flanks and crissum). The nominate and nemoricola have a light grey head with whitish streaking (especially on crown and collar region). Both subspecies have white irides and a yellow bill with a pale blue base. The sexes are similar, but juveniles have whitish underparts and just chestnut tips to the tail feathers.

Behaviour

The chestnut-tailed starling's nest is typically found in open woodland and cultivation. The chestnut-tailed starling builds a nest in hole. The normal clutch is 3-5 eggs.

Like most starlings, the chestnut-tailed starling is fairly omnivorous, eating fruit, nectar and insects. They fly in tight flocks and often rapidly change directions with great synchrony.

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Passeriformes
Family
Sturnidae
Genus
Sturnia
Species
Sturnia malabarica

Synonyms

  • Temenuchus malabaricus

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Distribution map of Chestnut-tailed starling, Sturnia malabarica in Thailand
  • Ban Laem District, Phetchaburi
  • Ban Phai District, Khon Kaen
  • Bang Pu Recreation Centre
  • Bangkok Province
  • Bueng Boraped Non-hunting Area
  • Chaiyo District, Ang Thong
  • Chat Trakan Waterfall National Park
  • Chatturat District, Chaiyaphum
  • Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai
  • Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Chiang Khong District, Chiang Rai
  • Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai
  • Dan Chang District, Suphan Buri
  • Doi Inthanon National Park
  • Doi Lo District, Chiang Mai
  • Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park
  • Doi Suthep-Pui National Park
  • Fang District, Chiang Mai
  • Hang Chat District, Lampang
  • Hat Noppharat Thara - Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park
  • Huai Krachao District, Kanchanaburi
  • Kabin Buri District, Prachinburi
  • Kaeng Khoi District, Saraburi
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Kamphaeng Saen District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
  • Khao Yai National Park
  • Khao Yoi District, Phetchaburi
  • Khlong Luang District, Pathum Thani
  • Khun Tan District, Chiang Rai
  • Kumphawapi District, Udon Thani
  • Kut Thing Non-hunting Area
  • Laem Pak Bia
  • Mae Ai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Chan District, Chiang Rai
  • Mae Ping National Park
  • Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai
  • Mueang Chachoengsao District, Chachoengsao
  • Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai
  • Mueang Chonburi District, Chonburi
  • Mueang Chumphon District, Chumphon
  • Mueang Khon Kaen District, Khon Kaen
  • Mueang Lamphun District, Lamphun
  • Mueang Lopburi District, Lopburi
  • Mueang Nakhon Nayok District, Nakhon Nayok
  • Mueang Pathum Thani District, Pathum Thani
  • Mueang Phayao District, Phayao
  • Mueang Phetchaburi District, Phetchaburi
  • Mueang Phitsanulok District, Phitsanulok
  • Mueang Sukhothai District, Sukhothai
  • Mueang Suphanburi District, Suphan Buri
  • Mueang Tak District, Tak
  • Mueang Udon Thani District, Udon Thani
  • Mueang Uttaradit District, Uttaradit
  • Nam Nao National Park
  • Nong Bong Khai Non-hunting Area
  • Nong Ya Plong District, Phetchaburi
  • Pai District, Mae Hong Son
  • Pak Phli District, Nakhon Nayok
  • Pak Thale
  • Pang Sila Thong District, Kamphaeng Phet
  • Pha Daeng National Park
  • Phan District, Chiang Rai
  • Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Phu Khiao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Phu Suan Sai National Park
  • Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi
  • Salawin National Park
  • Samut Prakan Province
  • San Sai District, Chiang Mai
  • Si Satchanalai District, Sukhothai
  • Sop Prap District, Lampang
  • Taphan Hin District, Phichit
  • Tha Wung District, Lopburi
  • Thanyaburi District, Pathum Thani
  • Thap Lan National Park
  • Thong Pha Phum National Park
  • Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Wang Noi District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Wat Phai Lom & Wat Ampu Wararam Non-hunting Area

Range map of Sturnia malabarica in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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