Archived 2017 topics: White-eyed Starling (Aplonis brunneicapillus): downlist to Vulnerable?

BirdLife Species factsheet for White-eyed Starling:


White-eyed Starling, Aplonis brunneicapillus, has been recorded from only four islands; Guadalcanal, Rendova and Choiseul, Solomons Islands, and Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. It is rare and patchy in its distribution, and given its elusive nature it is possible that it could be found on other nearby islands in the future. The species occurs in forest habitats, having been recorded breeding in lowland swamps and hill forest, while foraging birds have been recorded in forests, at the forest edge and in secondary growth, feeding on fruit (Beecher 1945, Finch 1986, Gibbs 1996). Its use of forest habitats means that it is likely declining: much of the forest in the species’s range has been logged and rates of logging are increasing (Buckingham et al. 1995, G. Dutson in litt. 2007). In addition to this, the species may also be hunted. A report from the 1950s revealed that nesting trees were cut down by villagers so that they could collect the nestlings (Cain and Galbraith 1956), and this practice may continue as meat sources are still highly prized.

The White-eyed Starling is currently listed as Endangered under criterion C2a(i) as it has a small and fragmented population (see BirdLife International 2017). The basis for this is a population estimate based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size, using population density estimates for congeners or closely related species of a similar body size and assuming only a proportion of its range is occupied. This gave a population estimate that fell in the range of 1,000-2,500 individuals, which would roughly equate to a population size of 667-1,667 mature individuals, and falls beneath the population size threshold for Endangered under criterion C. However, if the same assumptions are used and this estimate is recalculated to initially estimate the number of mature individuals then the number of mature individuals would fall in the range 1,000-2,500, which would no longer meet the threshold for Endangered, but would meet the threshold for Vulnerable. The largest sub-population, on Guadalcanal, may be provisionally estimated at 250-999 mature individuals (G. Dutson in litt. 2016), and so it is proposed that the species be listed as Vulnerable under criterion C2a(i).

We welcome any comments regarding this proposed downlisting.


Beecher, W. J. 1945. A bird collection from the Solomon Islands. Fieldiana Zoology 31: 31-37.

BirdLife International. 2017. Species factsheet: Aplonis brunneicapillus. Downloaded from on 27/03/2017.

Buckingham, D. L.; Dutson, G. C. L.; Newman, J. L. 1995. Birds of Manus, Kolombangara and Makira (San Cristobal) with notes on mammals and records from other Solomon Islands.

Cain, A. J.; Galbraith, I. C. J. 1956. Field notes on the birds of the eastern Solomon Islands. Ibis 98: 100-134, 262-295.

Finch, B. W. 1986. The Aplonis starlings of the Solomon Islands. Muruk 1: 3-16.

Gibbs, D. 1996. Notes on Solomon Island birds. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 116: 18-25.

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2 Responses to Archived 2017 topics: White-eyed Starling (Aplonis brunneicapillus): downlist to Vulnerable?

  1. Phil Gregory says:

    Hmmm, I have to say a lot of this sounds like guesswork, I can’t see we have any real idea other than that this species is rare and very hard to find, I’d leave it as is for the moment and hope to be proven wrong

  2. Hannah Wheatley (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2017 Red List would be to adopt the proposed classifications outlined in the initial forum discussion.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 4 August, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from those in the initial proposal.

    The final 2017 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

Comments are closed.