Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Aplonis panayensis (Scopoli, 1783)

Species:A. panayensis
Common Names:Asian Glossy Starling, Philippine Glossy Starling
Status:Common resident


Adult Asian Glossy Starlings have dark glossy green plumage with red eyes while the juveniles are creamy white and streaked black.

Size 19–21.5 cm

Read more about the Passeriformes order.
Read more about the Sturnidae family.


The Asian Glossy Starling ranges from northeastern India, Myanmar, Peninsula Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore to Sumatra, Borneo, Java.


It is found throughout Singapore and its offshore islands.

Locality Map

General Biology

The Asian Glossy Starling is widespread in all habitats, including forest edges and gaps, urban and rural areas, gardens, parks, and open country. It breeds year round and often nests in abandoned woodpecker nests, natural cavities, roof spaces or stumps of dead coconut palms or nibong palms. In the late evening these starlings will gather in different trees at various locations before they suddenly fly off to their final roost. These communally roosts in trees are rather noisy, as they fight over preferred positions on the tree. Some roosts can comprise hundreds or even thousands of birds. 


The Asian Glossy Starling is especially fond of figs, tembusu berries and fruits of the Alexandra palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae), FishtailPpalm (Caryota mitis), Salam (Syzygium polyanthum)... The adult as well as the juvenile swallow the large Alexandra palm fruits whole, to regurgitate the seeds some time later. It is possible that it also swallow other palm fruits with smaller seeds like the MacArthur and fishtail palms. In the case of fruits of Chempaka Merah (Michelia champaca), it has been caught on video eating the fruits to regurgitate the seeds. Another fruits taken is Common Mahang (Macaranga bancana). In feeding of fruits to chicks, it appears that the adults pick up the discarded seeds from the nest and drop them outside.

It also feeds on insects, often seen feasting on alate termites when they swarm (Wells, 2007) and snails. They have also been known to eat leaves.

Life Cycle

As far as life cycle is concerned, we only know that the female lays a clutch of 3 eggs. It is shocking that there are no information on breeding behaviour like incubation period, days for the chicks to fledge, etc. for such a common bird. Obviously birdwatchers have totally neglected this common common species to spend time seeking out exotic species.

Ecological Role

Asian Glossy Starlings help disperse small seeds through their droppings and larger seeds when they regurgitate them.


Wang, L. K. 2011. Starlings. Pp. 468. In: Ng, P. K. L., R. T. Corlett & H. T. W. Tan (editors). Singapore Biodiversity. An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development. Editions Didier Millet, Singapore. 552 pp.

Wang, L. K. & Hails, C.J. 2007. An annotated checklist of birds of Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 15: 1–179, Singapore.

Wells, D. R. (2007). The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London.

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