Madagascan Starling
Hartlaubius auratus

Passeriformes Order – Sturnidae Family

The Madagascan Starling is endemic to Madagascar where it frequents humid areas with woodland, and can be seen around villages. It is relatively common in the coastal regions of the islands except in more arid south-west. It feeds on fruits and insects and often forages in treetops.
The Madagascan Starling is currently widespread and not globally threatened.  

Length: 20-21 cm
Weight: 40 gr

The Madagascan Starling adult male has brown upperparts including nape, mantle and rump, and on the underparts, chin, throat and bib area in centre of breast. Rest of breast and flanks are darker chocolate-brown, whereas centre of belly, undertail-coverts and thighs are white with variable extent.
On the upperwing, the six outermost primaries show broad white stripe on outer web, and oval patch on inner web. The alula has also white outer web. Secondary and tertial flight-feathers are uniformly dark blue with some violet gloss. In flight, the contrasted wing pattern is conspicuous.
The tail is dark blue-green and slightly glossy. The outermost rectrices show white outer web. They are longer than other tail feathers, involving fork-shaped tail.
The head is dark chocolate-brown.
The bill is black. The eyes are brown. Legs and feet are black.

The adult female has similar plumage pattern but she is duller than male. On crown and nape, the feathers have pale edges. Chin, throat, breast and flanks are grey-brown with dark central streak on each feather.
The juvenile resembles female.

The Madagascan Starling is found in the coastal regions of Madagascar, except the more arid SW corner. It is less common in E, scarce or absent on Central Plateau, and local in CW.

The Madagascan Starling frequents humid areas with woodland and often occurs in treetops. But it can be seen on fringes of open areas such as clearings and cultivated fields, around villages and near rice paddles. It is usually below 1,800 metres. It is fairly common in rainforest below 1,000 metres of elevation.

The Madagascan Starling’s call is a repeated, high-pitched whistle given continuously from exposed perch and often during several minutes “tee tree-tee”. It also utters a loud, metallic “plick” usually often repeated. We can hear a quiet warbling song sometimes given at roost.

The Madagascan Starling feeds primarily on small fruits and takes occasionally insects and invertebrates.
The fruits include Ficus species and berries. It forages for insects at dung pats.
It usually forages in treetops at forest edge, and can be seen perched on exposed branches. It is rarely if ever on the ground.

The Madagascan Starling is generally found in small family groups or in flocks of 4-20 individuals.
The breeding behaviour is unknown.

The Madagascan Starling is resident on the island, but it probably moves locally according to food availability, and especially fruit.

The breeding season probably occurs in September/November.
The Madagascan Starling typically nests in tree holes, but the nest is undescribed.
The female lays pale blue eggs with rusty-brown markings.
No more information.

The Madagascan Starling is widespread and still common throughout the range. However, it is threatened by destruction and fragmentation of the habitat, involving the decline of the population.
But the Madagascan Starling is not globally threatened and currently evaluated as Least Concern.
Fr: Étourneau malgache
Ang: Madagascan Starling
All: Madagaskarstar
Esp: Estornino Malgache
Ita: Storno del Madagascar
Nd: Madagaskarspreeuw
Sd: madagaskarstare
Mal: poretika, Vorontainaomby

Text by Nicole Bouglouan


HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 14 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-David Christie - Lynx Edicions – ISBN: 9788496553507

Birds of Madagascar: A Photographic Guide Par Pete Morris, Frank Hawkins – ISBN: 0300077556, 9780300077551- Editeur: Yale University Press, 1998

Birds of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands Par Roger Safford, Adrian Skerrett, Frank Hawkins – ISBN: 1472924118, 9781472924117- Editeur: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015

Starlings and Mynas by Adrian Craig, Chris Feare – Helm Identification Guides -Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010 – ISBN: 1408135205, 9781408135204

Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands Par Ian Sinclair, Olivier Langrand - ISBN: 1868729567, 9781868729562- Editeur: Struik, 2003

Avibase (Denis Lepage)

Birdlife International

HBW Alive


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