Family Starlings (Sturnidae)

Least Concern

Chestnut-winged Starling (Onychognathus fulgidus)


French: Rufipenne de forêt German: Kastanienflügelstar Spanish: Estornino alirrufo

Onychognathus fulgidus


, 1849,

São Tomé


Races sometimes treated as two separate species owing to far larger size of nominate (allow 3); but no other differences noted except perhaps that nominate is more vocal, at least than birds in Gabon#R; comparative study of vocalizations needed. Much local overlap in size prevents dividing mainland birds into more than one subspecies: birds E & S from Cameroon sometimes separated as intermedius; birds of Upper Guinea previously separated as harterti; name hartlaubii, with type locality of Bioko, thus variously applied to groups of W or E, or, as here, to all mainland populations; proposed race leoninus (Sierra Leone) included in hartlaubii. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. f. fulgidus Hartlaub, 1849 – Chestnut-winged Starling – São Tomé I, in Gulf of Guinea.
  • O. f. hartlaubii Hartlaub, 1858 – Hartlaub's Starling – S Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia E to Ghana, C Togo, S Benin, S Nigeria, and S Cameroon S, including Bioko, to N Angola (E to NW Lunda Norte) and E to extreme SW South Sudan (Bengangai), W & SW Uganda and NE & EC DRCongo.
  • Descriptive notes

    28–35 cm; 103–140 g. Large, dark starling with long, graduated tail and long, heavy bill. Male nominate race has crown glossy blue-black, nape, ear-coverts, side... read more


    Song a mixture of low, glottal and high screechy notes, also a grating "churng-chuzick".... read more


    Lowland primary forest and old secondary forest, sometimes in clearings and wooded gardens;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly fruit; also nectar of Bombax, and insects. Fruit of Dacryodes, Ficus, Uapaca, Cecropia... read more


    Season Oct–Mar in Liberia, Sept–Dec in Ivory Coast, Oct–Nov in Ghana, Jan–May in Nigeria, May–Jun in Cameroon... read more


    Resident, but appears to be highly mobile; outside breeding season, seldom at one site for more... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread, and locally common. Fairly common in W Africa; reported also from Misahöhe, in Togo, but status in that country unclear. Locally... read more

    Recommended citation

    Craig, A. & Feare, C. (2020). Chestnut-winged Starling (Onychognathus fulgidus). 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 17 February 2020).