Family Starlings (Sturnidae)

Least Concern

Ashy Starling (Lamprotornis unicolor)


French: Choucador cendré German: Grauglanzstar Spanish: Estornino cenizo

Cosmopsarus unicolor


, 1881,

Ugogo, Tanzania


This species and L. regius sometimes placed in a separate genus, Cosmopsarus; has alternatively been placed in genus Spreo, but genetic data#R show that to be embedded within present genus. Monotypic.


Interior of Tanzania.

Descriptive notes

30 cm; 55–66 g. Medium-sized, slender, uniformly coloured starling with very long, narrow tail. Plumage is a uniform ashy grey, with oily-green sheen on remiges and... read more


Song of low conversational notes and harsher elements; often a repeated phrase. Alarm call a harsh... read more


Open dry woodland and wooded grassland, at 1100–1800 m.

Food and feeding

Diet largely insects; some fruit taken. Insects including termites (Isoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), mantids (Mantodea), dragonflies (... read more


Breeds Feb–Mar. Monogamous; members of one pair bred together for at least 4 successive years. Co-operative breeding regular, helpers... read more


Presumed resident; some coastal records may represent dry-season movement.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Common within limited range. Occurs in several national parks.

Recommended citation

Craig, A. & Feare, C. (2020). Ashy Starling (Lamprotornis unicolor). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).