Thought to be closely related to M. maderaspatensis, M. grandis and M. aguimp, all of which formerly often regarded as races of present species, and with recently described M. samveasnae; recent analyses of mitochondrial DNA, however, suggest that M. aguimp possibly more distantly related. Geographical variation marked and complex, and three separate clades recovered by mitochondrial DNA study, which sampled races alba, personata, baicalensis, leucopsis, lugens and ocularis#R. Races often divided into four groups (as in HBW) based mainly on breeding range: “alba group” (including also yarrellii, persica, dukhunensis, personata, baicalensis), “alboides group” (with leucopsis), “lugens group” (with ocularis), and single-taxon “subpersonata group”, but here all distinctive taxa (some of which have been regarded as species) are treated individually, rather than grouped geographically, irrespective of differences; subpersonata recently emerged as oddly divergent from other taxa in complex, but more research proposed before any new arrangement adopted#R. Widespread intergradation occurs where races meet, and frequent co-occurrence evident in non-breeding quarters; lugens and personata often ranked as full species, but former appears to intergrade and interbreed with both leucopsis and ocularis, and latter with dukhunensis, alboides and baicalensis. Moreover, the described taxa persica and dukhunensis may be only inter-racial hybrids, perhaps better included in nominate. Proposed race frontata (described from Xiamen, SE China, where probably only migrant) provisionally included in leucopsis, but possibly of hybrid origin. Other named races include forwoodi (described from Abd al Kuri I, W of Socotra), synonymous with nominate; and albula (Khasi Hills, in NE India), considered inseparable from alboides. Eleven subspecies currently recognized.
Food and feeding
Status and conservation
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