Family Starlings (Sturnidae)

Least Concern

Cape Starling (Lamprotornis nitens)


French: Choucador à épaulettes rouges German: Rotschulter-Glanzstar Spanish: Estornino de El Cabo
Other common names: Cape Glossy Starling

Turdus nitens


, 1766,



Birds from Namibia E to Zimbabwe and NE South Africa often separated as race phoenicopterus and those from E South Africa as culminator on basis of size and colour (larger and greener); geographical variation, however, appears clinal, with intergradation between adjoining populations throughout species’ range. Treated as monotypic.


From around mouth of R Congo in extreme W DRCongo#R#R S through W & S Angola to SW Zambia and Zimbabwe, S to Namibia, Botswana, South Africa (except S & SW Cape region and dry W interior), W lowlands of Lesotho, Swaziland and S Mozambique.

Descriptive notes

25 cm; 75–105 g. Fairly large, short-tailed glossy starling with rather uniform appearance. Head is glossy blue, blacker on ear-coverts; upperparts blue-green with... read more


Song a sustained warbling with varied notes, and may include imitation of other bird species; sings... read more


Savanna woodland and riverine vegetation; in arid areas restricted to taller trees along... read more

Food and feeding

Omnivorous; diet chiefly fruit and insects, but also other animal food including mammalian carrion, ticks (Acarina) and millipedes (... read more


Breeds Sept–Feb/Mar in S Africa, and probably Feb–Mar in Angola. Monogamous. Co-operative breeder, most helpers probably... read more


Presumed resident; in one garden, ringed individuals remained on same territory for four years.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Widespread and common in much of range. Population in Kruger National Park, in NE South Africa, estimated at more than 32,000 individuals, in... read more

Recommended citation

Craig, A. & Feare, C. (2020). Cape Starling (Lamprotornis nitens). 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).