Family Starlings (Sturnidae)

Least Concern

Violet-backed Starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster)


French: Étourneau améthyste German: Amethystglanzstar Spanish: Estornino amatista
Other common names: Amethyst Starling

Turdus leucogaster


, 1783,

no locality = Benin


Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. l. leucogaster (Boddaert, 1783) – Senegal E, S of Sahara and N of equator, to South Sudan, N DRCongo, N Uganda and C & S Ethiopia; non-breeding also in coastal areas, Gabon, Congo and N DRCongo, and S to Kenya.
  • C. l. arabicus C. H. B. Grant & Mackworth-Praed, 1942 – foothills of SW Arabian Peninsula (SW Saudi Arabia S to W Yemen)#R; probably also Eritrea, Djibouti, N Ethiopia, E Sudan and NW Somalia.
  • C. l. verreauxi (Bocage, 1870) – S DRCongo and Angola S to C Namibia and, in E, from S Kenya and W Tanzania S to Botswana, NE South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique; in non-breeding season more widespread.
  • Descriptive notes

    16 cm; 33–56 g. Male nominate race has head and upperparts, including upperwing-coverts and tail, iridescent purple, in fresh plumage with strong blue overtone (with... read more


    Song a varied phrase of up to 15 twanging notes and piping sounds; male sings near nest while... read more


    Open woodland areas and riverine woodland, to 2200 m in Malawi and recorded to 3000 m in Kenya; may... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly frugivorous, but insects also taken. Fruits eaten include those of Celtis, Carissa edulis, Euclea divinorum... read more


    Season Mar–May in W Africa; Mar–Apr in Arabian Peninsula; Mar–Jul in Kenya, Nov–Dec in Tanzania; in DRCongo Aug... read more


    Migratory in many regions, some populations apparently resident. In S of range almost entirely a... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread and generally common to locally abundant. In S of range, numbers in Kruger National Park, in South Africa, where a summer breeding migrant... read more

    Recommended citation

    Craig, A. & Feare, C. (2020). Violet-backed Starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster). 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).