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The red-winged starling

14 January 2016

 

The red-winged starling Onychognathus morio is one of 21 types of starling of the family Sturnidae which occurs in southern Africa. It was first described scientifically as Turdus morio by Linnaeus in 1766 based on a specimen from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. However, the name Turdus relates to the thrushes and the red-winged starling has since been renamed Onychognathus morio. The name Onychognathus is derived from the Greek words onyx for a nail and gnathos for a jaw and it refers to the sharp bill. The name morio is derived from the Greek word morio for black or possibly is a contraction of the Latin word mormorion for a dark brown stone which may refer to the reddish brown patches on the wings. The starlings are mostly confined to Africa, and the red-winged starling is found throughout the eastern part of Africa as far north as south-western Ethiopia.

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An adult male weighs some 140 g and a female 130 g and they differ in plumage. The adult male is uniform, glossy black with an inky blue sheen. There is a reddish brown wing patch and the longish, sharp bill is black. The eyes are dark red and the legs and feet are black. The plumage of an adult female mostly resembles that of a male but her crown, nape, sides of the head, throat and upper breast are ash-grey, while... (Become a subscriber for more)

 

Reference:

Hockey, P A R, W R J Dean and P G Ryan (Eds) 2005. Roberts – birds of southern Africa, seventh edition. Cape Town: The John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, 961 - 962.

article by Prof J du P Bothma

 

 

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