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Chestnut-bellied Starling - BirdForum Opus

Photograph by Solomon
River Gash, Eritrea
Lamprotornis pulcher


20cm. A small, short-tailed and rather dull starling.

  • Charcoal-grey crown and ear-coverts, darker lores
  • Glossy bronze-green nape and upperparts
  • Glossy bronze-green upperwing, pale wing patch in flight
  • Glossy bronze-green tail
  • Glossy bronze-green chin, throat and breast
  • Chestnut-brown belly, flanks, thighs and undertail-coverts
  • Yellowish-white eye
  • Black bill and legs

Sexes similar. Juveniles are duller than adults, have a brown eye, a yellowish bill and brown legs.


Found in the Sahel region of sub-saharan Africa from Mauritania and Senegal east to Eritrea and northwest Ethiopia.
Locally abundant, uncommon in other parts of range.


This is a monotypic species.
The described subspecies rufiventris is generally considered invalid. Has been placed in genus Spreo in the past.
Has been considered to from a superspecies with Hildebrandt's Starling and Shelley's Starling.


Savanna. Wooded and bushed habitats, including gardens and villages.


Feeds mainly on insects. Takes also fruit, dead mice, small chameleons and kitchen scraps.
Forages in small flocks on the ground. Associates with other starlings and White-billed Buffalo-Weaver.
Breeding season differs through range, breeding recorded in all months. A co-operative breeder, breeding groups consist of two or more pairs with 6 - 26 helpers. The nest is a ball of grass, placed 2-3 m above the ground in a thorny tree. Uses also nests of White-billed Buffalo-Weaver and breeds in association with Greater Blue-eared Glossy-Starling. Lays 3 - 5 eggs, the nest is sometimes parasitised by Levaillant's Cuckoo.
Presumably a resident species with some local movements.


  1. Clements, JF. 2010. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2010. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/Clements%206.5.xls/view
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507
  3. BF Member observations

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