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Cape glossy starling (Lamprotornis nitens)

25 April 2016



Physical description

An adult Cape glossy starling is some 25 cm long, weighs 90 g and the sexes look alike. The upper wing coverts (feathers that cover the flight feathers) create two rows of dark spots because of having bluish tips, while there is a bronze-purple patch on the carpel (wrist) joint of the wing. The bill, legs and feet are black and the eyes are bright orange-yellow. The common name glossy starling refers to its glossy blue head and blue-green upper parts and is reflected in its scientific name because nitens is Latin for shining or bright.

Cape glossy starling size versus a human            Cape glossy starling´s claws



Area and habitat

www.leopard.tvOccurs in much of central and southern Africa, except for the winter-rainfall regions of the Western Cape. Such a common sight on wildlife areas that they are mostly almost ignored.

The habitat choice is wide but it prefers wooded savannas, riverine bushveld and forest edges in the wild. Cape glossy starlings form small flocks to feed and roost.




Foraging is often done on the ground by hopping and running. The Cape glossy starling important as a plant pollinator. Regularly associate with ungulates and feed on insects which they disturb when moving about. Listen to the sound made by die Cape glossy starling.




The food mainly consists of wild fruit, insects and nectar. They also remove ticks from wildlife and cattle.

Weight: 90g
Length: 25cm


Monogamous pairs are formed, remain together for at least 2 seasons. Solitary nesters. Laying of 2 to 6 eggs between September and February. Incubation period is still surprisingly unknown for such a common bird.


It is known that the Cape glossy starling is prey to the Peregrine falcon and Wahlberg´s eagle.


Read the full article written by Prof J du P Bothma.



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