Spotwinged starling

Saroglossa spiloptera subfamily

Sturninae taxonomy

Lamprotornis spiloptera Vigors, 1831. other common names

French: Étourneau à ailes tachetées; German: Marmorstar; Spanish: Estornino de Alas Moteadas.

physical characteristics

7.5 in (19 cm); weight 1.7 oz (48 g). Slender bird with thin, slightly down-curved bill; male has a chestnut throat, rusty flanks, lighter lower breast and belly, and a textured appearance above resulting from gray feathers on head and back that are bordered by blackish brown; female has pale underparts with brown streaking, somewhat mottled brown back and head. In flight, these birds show white spotting in the middle of each primary feather. Juveniles not well known, but apparently vary and are somewhat lighter in color than adults.

distribution

Foothills of the Himalayas of north-central India; winters from eastern India to Burma and Thailand.

habitat

Open country, forest edge, agricultural land.

behavior

Primarily arboreal, shy, restless. Gives noisy chattering calls reminiscent of mynas. Appears to have an east-west migration within Asia. Flocks sometimes include several hundred birds.

feeding ecology and diet

Diet includes insects such as ants and termites, sometimes taken in flight; also takes nectar.

reproductive biology

A cavity nester that uses woodpecker and barbet holes in which to build a nest of green leaves and other materials. Nesting is usually April-June. A clutch includes three to four pale gray to blue-green eggs with small reddish brown spots and blotches. No data on incubation or nestling periods.

conservation status

Near Threatened.

significance to humans None known. ♦

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