White-faced Starling Sturnornis albofrontatus


Justification of Red List Category
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.

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.

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.


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

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.


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.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Derhé, M., Gilroy, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Sturnornis albofrontatus. Downloaded from on 26/11/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/11/2022.