Agropsar sturninus (Pallas, 1776)
by Ms. Anis Zafirah Binti Zam Beri & Mr. Mohammad Shahfiz Azman
Agropsar sturninus (Pallas, 1776)
by Ms. Anis Zafirah Binti Zam Beri & Mr. Mohammad Shahfiz Azman

Agropsar sturninus, commonly known as the Daurian starling or Purple-backed starling, is a fascinating small bird in the Family Sturnidae. This monotypic species is distinguished by the adult male’s pale greyish head and underparts, while the upper parts and nape-patch are glossy dark purplish. The upper wing is glossy dark green with a whitish to pale buff scapular band. The feet and the bill are blackish, although it is said that the base of the bill turns pale during the non-breeding season (Robson, 2014; BirdForum, 2023). The female and juvenile are similarly patterned to an adult male, but the glossy plumage and crown are replaced with duller brown (Robson, 2014; BirdForum, 2023).

This species is known to inhabit secondary forests, forest edges, open areas and plantations including oil palm (Robson, 2014; Shahfiz et al., 2023). It breeds in Southeast Siberia, Eastern Mongolia, and North Korea and then extends its range to Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia (BirdLife International, 2016). During seasonal changes, this species is one of the local non-breeding winter visitors of Southern Thailand, Sumatra, Java and Peninsular Malaysia (Robson, 2014; BirdLife International, 2023).

A. sturninus is a highly gregarious species, forming communal roosts from 10 to thousands of individuals. A. sturninus often roosts together with other species of starling and myna such as Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis), Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) and Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus), at reed beds or trees (Wells, 2007; Craig & Feare 2009; BirdForum, 2023). The selected roosting site is occupied for a few weeks, after which the whole communal roost changes site, influenced by the availability and preference of food resources such as fruiting figs and fruit-bearing trees (Setiyono et al., 2013).

Although the global population size of A. sturninus is unknown, it is not known to be facing any significant threat that could lead to a decrease in population size. As a result, this species has been listed as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


  1. BirdForum Opus contributors. (2023). Daurian Starling. In: BirdForum, the forum for wild birds and birding. Retrieved March 02, 2023, from
  2. BirdLife International. (2016). Agropsar sturninus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22710870A94264888. Retrieved March 02, 2023, from
  3. BirdLife International. (2023). Species factsheet: Agropsar sturninus. Retrieved March 02, 2023, from
  4. Craig, A.J.F.K. & Feare, C.J. (2009). Family Sturnidae (Starlings). Handbook of the birds of the world, Volume 14. pp. 654-758.
  5. Robson, C. (2014). A field guide to the birds of South-East Asia. London: Bloomsbury Natural History. pp. 303.
  6. Setiyono, J., Diniarsih, S., Mufti, F. & Unting, M. (2013). Large communal roost of “wintering” purple-backed starlings Sturnus (Agropsar) sturninus in Yogyakarta, Central Java. Kukila, 12-16
  7. Shahfiz, M.A., Faradiana, N.M.F., Nor Hazwani, A.R. & Chua, L.S.L. (2023). A pocket guide to Avifauna at Sime Darby Plantation. Taurus DNP Sdn Bhd, Selangor. 86pp.
  8. Wells, D.R. (2007). The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Volume 2. Academic Press, San Diego and London.
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