Metallic Starling Aplonis metallica


Taxonomic note
Aplonis metallica and A. circumscripta (Handbook of the Birds of the World and BirdLife International 2020) have been split from Aplonis metallica (del Hoyo and Collar 2016), after an assessment of 24 specimens in four museums and literature review (Collar 2018). 

A. circumscripta is consistently diagnosed from metallica by its (1) short-feathered clear-cut inverted-U-shaped purple chin-patch, (2) large purple mantle-patch and correspondingly very narrow green hind-collar, and (3) average shorter bill and wings but, in males, notably longer central rectrices, strongly indicating that species rank is indeed appropriate for the taxon, for which the vernacular name Purple-chinned Starling is proposed.

Taxonomic source(s)
Handbook of the Birds of the World and BirdLife International. 2020. Handbook of the Birds of the World and BirdLife International digital checklist of the birds of the world. Version 5. Available at:

IUCN Red List criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - -

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2020 Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status not a migrant Forest dependency medium
Land-mass type Average mass -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence (breeding/resident) 5,700,000 km2 medium
Severely fragmented? no -
Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
Population size unknown - - -
Population trend decreasing - suspected 2013-2024
Rate of change over the past 10 years/3 generations (longer of the two periods) 10-15% - - -
Rate of change over the future 10 years/3 generations (longer of the two periods) 10-15% - - -
Rate of change over the past & future 10 years/3 generations (longer of the two periods) 10-15% - - -
Generation length 3.8 years - - -

Population justification: The species was recently split, previously being lumped with Purple-chinned Starling (A. circumscripta) under A. metallica (Collar 2018). The global population size of Metallic Starling has thus not been quantified, but is considered to be generally common across most of its range. The species also occurs at higher densities in secondary habitats such as coconut plantations and mangroves (G. Dutson in litt. 2020). Population density estimates measured at 3 birds/hectare in primary lowland forests and 1-7.5 birds/hectare in degraded lowland habitats and mangroves on Kolombangara (Buckingham et al. 1990) therefore suggest that the overall population may be large and numerous. Recent surveys in New Britain, Papua New Guinea also showed that the species remains common in oil palm plantations, being recorded in 60% of all forests observed (R. Davis in litt. 2020).

Trend justification: The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes. However, assuming that population declines are occurring at the same rate as forest loss, recent forest loss analysis (per Tracewski et al. 2016, Global Forest Watch 2020) suggests the species is undergoing a decline at a rate of c. 14% over a three-generation period (11.4 years; Bird et al. 2020). Pressures from hunting for food may additionally exacerbate population declines over forest loss alone. However, as the species commonly occurs in plantations and secondary forests however, it is though to be tolerant of some degraded habitats. The rate of decline is therefore tentatively placed in the band of 10-15%.

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Presence Origin Resident Breeding visitor Non-breeding visitor Passage migrant
Australia extant native yes
Indonesia extant native yes
Papua New Guinea extant native yes
Solomon Islands extant native yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Terrestrial Plantations suitable resident
Artificial/Terrestrial Rural Gardens suitable resident
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Mangrove Vegetation Above High Tide Level suitable resident
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland major resident
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane suitable resident
Savanna Dry suitable resident
Altitude   Occasional altitudinal limits (max) 3000 m

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Wood & pulp plantations - Agro-industry plantations Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Species disturbance
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Causing/Could cause fluctuations Low Impact: 5
Species mortality

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - international non-trivial recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Aplonis metallica. Downloaded from on 03/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 03/12/2023.