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Cape Glossy Starling
(Lamprotornis nitens)

Cape Glossy Starling

General description

The Cape Glossy Starling plumage has more of a blue sheen than the green of other similar overlapping species and lacks the darker ear coverts. The eyes are orange-yellow.

Sexes are alike but the male is slightly larger than the female.

Juveniles have duller plumage and yellow eyes.

It has a lengthy warbling song.

Name & classification

Scientific name:
Lamprotornis nitens

Common names:
Cape Glossy Starling (English)
Kleinglansspreeu (Afrikaans)

Glossy Starling

Roberts VII english name:
Cape Glossy Starling

Roberts VII scientific name:
Lamprotornis nitens

Starlings (Sturnidae)

Further information



Diet includes fruit, insects and nectar and to a lesser extent small vertebrates.

It sometimes feeds on ectoparasites that it picks off the backs of animals and it sometimes visits bird tables for scraps.

The Cape Glossy Starling is a gregarious bird and forms large flocks in the non-breeding season.

It usually feeds on the ground often foraging alongside other species of starlings.

Breeding mainly takes place between October and February but may continue into April in Namibia. It nests in crevices such as holes in trees and out-competes other birds seeking to use these holes.

It is a host to the Great Spotted Cuckoo and to a lesser extent, the Greater Honeyguide, brood parasites that lay their eggs in other birds' nests.

Natural distribution:
The Cape Glossy Starling is found in the southern part of Africa. Its range encompasses the extreme south of Gabon, the west and south of Angola, the extreme south of Zambia, the southern half of Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa. It is a vagrant to the Republic of the Congo but does not breed there.

The Cape starling is found where trees in which it can roost and nest are found. It is not a bird of dense forest or of pasture and is not associated with any particular plant type. It does occur in open woodland, plantations, savannah, bushveld and rough grassland,

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