(980) Spodiopsar cineraceus.
The Grey Starling.
Sturnus cineraceus Temm., PL Col., 556 (1832) (Japan). Spodiopsar cineraceus. Blanf. & Oates; i; p. 524.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Adult male. Crown, nape and sides of head black; forehead, lores, chin and ear-coverts white more or less streaked with black; the white often encroaches in streaks on to the crown, throat and sides of head, a few individuals being almost all white on the throat; upper plumage and wing-coverts ashy-brown with a broad white bar across the rump ; primaries dark brown narrowly margined with white on the outer webs ; the outer secondaries more broadly margined, inner secondaries like the back but with bronze reflections and narrow terminal dark margins; chin and throat dark ashy-brown with faint streaks of paler brown; breast and flanks dark ashy, abdomen and under tail-coverts creamy-white ; axillaries white with brown on the inner webs; under wing-coverts white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris composed of two rings of hazel and white ; bill orange with a wide black tip ; legs and feet yellow or yellowish brown.
Measurements. Total length about 240 mm.; wing 122 to 132 mm.; tail 61 to 65 mm.; culmen 23 to 25 mm.; tarsus 30 to 31 mm.
Female. Similar to the male but never seems to assume the very dark throat, breast and flanks, these parts being always a paler ashy-grey.
Young male like the female but with a still lighter crown and nape.
Nestling. Whole plumage light russet-brown, albescent on the abdomen and under tail-coverts ; ear-coverts and chin whitish, the former with a few black streaks.
Distribution. Eastern Siberia to Japan; breeding also in North China and Mongolia. In Winter South to South China, Hainan and Formosa and once into Burmah.
Nidification. Very similar to that of birds of the genus Sturnus, They make a very rough nest of grass and feathers placed in a hole of a tree at any height from the ground between 10 and 30 feet. Owston informed me that it also sometimes bred in deserted buildings. The eggs vary from three to seven and are like rather deep-coloured eggs of the Common Starling. They vary in size between 25.8 x 19.5 mm. and 30.0 x 22.0 mm. The breeding-season is from the end of April to early June.
Habits. This Starling is said to be gregarious and even to breed in scattered communities. It is a bird of open country in which there are suitable trees and is rather shy of man's haunts. Its flight is like that of the true Starlings and its diet also similar.