Family Starlings (Sturnidae)

Least Concern

Red-winged Starling (Onychognathus morio)


French: Rufipenne morio German: Rotschwingenstar Spanish: Estornino alirrojo

Turdus morio


, 1766,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


Sometimes treated as conspecific with O. neumanni. Proposed race shelleyi (Kenya to W Mozambique and Zimbabwe) synonymized with nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. m. rueppellii (J. P. Verreaux, 1856) – extreme SE Sudan, SE South Sudan, N Kenya, N Eritrea and W & SE highlands of Ethiopia; perhaps also NE Uganda.
  • O. m. morio (Linnaeus, 1766) – E Uganda, C Kenya, SE Burundi, Tanzania, E DRCongo, E & S Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, W Mozambique, E Botswana, and E & S South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    30 cm; 115–155 g. Dark starling with rather long, pointed tail. Male plumage is glossy black with inky-blue sheen, except for rufous patch visible on folded wing; all... read more


    Song a complex of pure, musical whistles and warbling notes; both sexes sing, some elements sex-... read more


    Original habitat rocky outcrops, gorges and mountainous regions with access to well-vegetated... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet principally fruit, but almost omnivorous and highly opportunistic. Recorded items include arils of invasive alien Acacia cyclops... read more


    Season Apr and Oct in Ethiopia; all months except Jun–Jul (peak Nov–Dec and Mar) in E Africa; recorded Sept–Mar (mainly... read more


    Mainly resident. Nomadic flocks containing more than 200 individuals collect during non-breeding... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Wide-ranging, and abundant in many areas. Numbers in Kruger National Park, in South Africa, estimated at more than 4000 individuals, even though... read more

    Recommended citation

    Craig, A. & Feare, C. (2020). Red-winged Starling (Onychognathus morio). 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).