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Shelley's Starling - BirdForum Opus

Photo by volker sthamer
Location: Yabello, Ethiopia
Photo by balticbird
Ethiopia, February 1997
Lamprotornis shelleyi



  • Glossy dark purple crown, chin, throat and upper breast
  • Matt black patch from lores to ear-coverts
  • Bronzy-green collar on nape
  • Dark glossy blue upperparts
  • Bronze-green wing with black spots
  • Glossy blue-green tail
  • Uniformely dark rufous-brown underparts
  • Orange-red eye
  • Black bill and legs

Sexes similar. Juveniles have charcoal-grey upperparts and pale chestnut-brown underparts.

Similar species

Hildebrandt's Starling is very similar but has light orange-buff lower breast and rufous belly. Superb Starling has a white breast band.


Breeds in southern Ethiopia and northwest Somalia, also in southeast South Sudan and northern Kenya.
Non-breeding in eastern Kenya and southern Somalia.
Locally common to very common in breeding range.


This is a monotypic species.
Has been considered conspecific with Hildebrandt's Starling and both have been included in a superspecies with Chestnut-bellied Starling.


Semi-arid bushland and wooded country. Occurs from sea-level up to 1300m.


Only few data about diet. Probably feeds mainly on insects but takes also fruit.
Forages in small flocks in bushes and trees, less on the ground.
Outside breeding season in bigger flocks, sometimes associating with nomadic Magpie Starling.
Breeding season March to April in Ethiopia, April to June in Somalia. The nest is placed in a tree hole or cleft. Lays 3 - 6 eggs.


  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

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