Brahminy starling Temenuchus pagodarum, copyright Mukerjee.

Belongs within: Muscicapida.
Contains: Aplonis, Onychognathus, Lamprotornis, Acridotheres.

The Sturnidae, starlings, are a family of medium-sized omnivorous birds native to the Old World, though the common starling Sturnus vulgaris has also been introduced to North America. Members of the family are often boldly coloured, often with glossy metallic plumage.

Characters (from Austin 1961): Medium-sized; bill straight or slightly downcurved; plumage generally dark-coloured, often with metallic sheen, moulted annually after breeding; wings with ten primaries, outermost primary greatly shortened; tail commonly short and square (occasionally rounded or long and pointed); legs stout and strong.

Sturnidae [Sturnidia, Sturninae]
    |  i. s.: Lamprocolius BF01
    |           |--L. chloropterus BF01
    |           |--L. ignitus D66
    |           `--L. splendidus D66
    |         Necropsar rodericanus OF05
    |         Heteropsar acuticaudus RN72
    |--+--Rhabdornis Reichenbach 1853 JT12, B94 [Rhabdornithidae JT12]
    |  |    |--R. grandis JT12
    |  |    |--R. inornatus JT12
    |  |    `--R. mysticalis JT12
    |  `--+--+--Aplonis JT12
    |     |  `--+--Scissirostrum dubium JT12
    |     |     `--Enodes erythrophris JT12
    |     `--+--+--Basilornis BKB15
    |        |  |    |--B. celebensis JT12
    |        |  |    |--B. corythaix JT12
    |        |  |    `--B. galeatus JT12
    |        |  `--+--‘Basilornis’ mirandus BKB15
    |        |     `--+--Sarcops Walden 1877 JT12, B94 [incl. Gymnops Cuvier 1829 B94; Gymnopinae]
    |        |        |    `--S. calvus JF06
    |        |        `--Streptocitta JT12
    |        |             |--S. albertinae JT12
    |        |             `--S. albicollis JT12
    |        `--+--Mino BKB15
    |           |    |  i. s.: M. coronatus A61
    |           |    |--M. anais BKB15
    |           |    `--+--M. dumontii BKB15
    |           |       `--M. kreffti BKB15
    |           `--+--Ampeliceps coronatus JT12
    |              `--Gracula Linnaeus 1758 JT12, B94 (see below for synonymy)
    |                   |--G. barita Linnaeus 1758 L58
    |                   |--G. cristatella Linnaeus 1758 L58
    |                   |--G. intermedia Hay 1844 [=Mainatus intermedius] M01
    |                   |--G. ptilogenys JT12
    |                   `--G. religiosa Linnaeus 1758 L58
    `--+--+--+--‘Cinnyricinclus’ leucogaster BKB15
       |  |  `--Saroglossa aurata JT12
       |  `--+--Onychognathus JF06
       |     `--+--Lamprotornis BKB15
       |        `--+--+--‘Lamprotornis’ cupreocauda BKB15
       |           |  `--‘Lamprotornis’ purpureiceps JT12
       |           `--+--+--Saroglossa spiloptera BKB15
       |              |  `--Neocichla gutturalis JT12
       |              `--+--Grafisia torquata JT12
       |                 `--+--Speculipastor bicolor JT12
       |                    `--+--Cinnyricinclus JT12
       |                       |    |--P. femoralis BKB15 [=Cinnyricinclus femoralis JT12]
       |                       |    `--P. sharpii BKB15 [=Cinnyricinclus sharpii JF06]
       |                       `--Poeoptera JT12
       |                            |--P. lugubris JT12
       |                            `--+--P. kenricki JT12
       |                               `--P. stuhlmanni JT12
       `--+--Sturnus Linnaeus 1758 BKB15, CC10 (see below for synonymy)
          |    |--*S. vulgaris Linnaeus 1758 CC10
          |    |--S. cinclus Linnaeus 1758 L58
          |    |--S. luteolus Linnaeus 1758 L58
          |    `--S. unicolor JT12
          `--+--+--Creatophora cinerea JT12
             |  `--Pastor Temminck 1815 BKB15, B94 [Pastorinae]
             |       `--P. roseus BKB15 [=Sturnus roseus JT12]
             `--+--+--Gracupica BKB15
                |  |    |--G. contra (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, L58 [=Sturnus contra JT12]
                |  |    `--G. nigricollis BKB15 [=Sturnus nigricollis JT12]
                |  `--+--‘Sturnia’ philippensis BKB15 [=Sturnus philippensis JT12]
                |     `--‘Sturnia’ sturnina BKB15 [=Sturnus sturninus JT12]
                `--+--+--Acridotheres JT12
                   |  `--+--‘Sturnus’ cineraceus JT12
                   |     `--‘Sturnus’ sericeus JT12
                   `--+--Fregilupus BKB15
                      |    |--F. rodericanus FP64
                      |    `--F. varius OF05
                      `--+--Leucopsar rothschildi BKB15
                         `--Sturnia BKB15
                              |--S. albofrontata BKB15 [=Sturnus albofrontatus JT12]
                              `--+--S. sinensis BKB15 [=Sturnus sinensis JT12]
                                 `--+--Temenuchus pagodarum BKB15 [=Sturnus pagodarum JT12]
                                    `--+--S. erythropygia BKB15 [=Sturnus erythropygius JT12]
                                       `--S. malabarica BKB15 [=Sturnus malabaricus JT12]
                                            |--S. m. malabarica P02
                                            `--‘Sturnus malabaricus’ blythii P02

Gracula Linnaeus 1758 JF06, B94 [incl. Eulabes Cuvier 1817 B94, Mainatus Vieillot 1817 B94; Eulabetinae, Graculinae, Mainatidae]

Sturnus Linnaeus 1758 BKB15, CC10 [=Sternus (l. c.) B94; incl. Thremmophilus Macgillivray 1837 B94; Thremmophilinae]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A61] Austin, O. L., Jr. 1961. Birds of the World: A survey of the twenty-seven orders and one hundred and fifty-five families. Paul Hamlyn: London.

[BF01] Bochkov, A. V., & A. Fain. 2001. Phylogeny and system of the Cheyletidae (Acari: Prostigmata) with special reference to their host-parasite associations. Bulletin de l’Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique Entomologie 71: 5–36.

[B94] Bock, W. J. 1994. History and nomenclature of avian family-group names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 222: 1–281.

[BKB15] Burleigh, J. G., R. T. Kimball & E. L. Braun. 2015. Building the avian tree of life using a large-scale, sparse supermatrix. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 53–63.

[CC10] Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2010. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica 4th ed. Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Te Papa Press: Wellington.

[D66] Dohrn, H. 1866. Synopsis of the birds of Ilha do Principe, with some remarks on their habits and descriptions of new species. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 324–332.

[FP64] Fisher, J., & R. T. Peterson. 1964. The World of Birds: A comprehensive guide to general ornithology. Macdonald: London.

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444–448.

[JF06] Jønsson, K. A., & J. Fjeldså. 2006. A phylogenetic supertree of oscine passerine birds. Zoologica Scripta 35: 149–186.

[L58] Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Laurentii Salvii: Holmiae.

[M01] Madarász, J. 1901. Madarak [Vögel]. In: Horváth, G. (ed.) Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazása [Dritte Asiatische Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] vol. 2. Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazásának Állattani Eredményei [Zoologische Ergebnisse der Dritten Asiatischen Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] pp. 21–39. Victor Hornyánszky: Budapest, and Karl W. Hierseman: Leipzig.

[OF05] Olson, S. L., R. C. Fleischer, C. T. Fisher & E. Bermingham. 2005. Expunging the 'Mascarene starling' Necropsar leguati: archives, morphology and molecules topple a myth. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 125 (1): 31–42.

[P02] Patel, P. 2002. Possible new record of Sturnus malabaricus blythii in Valsad district, Gujarat. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 99 (3): 531.

[RN72] Rutgers, A., & K. A. Norris (eds.) 1972. Encyclopaedia of Aviculture vol. 1. Blandford Press: London.

Last updated: 15 July 2019.

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