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Lamprotornis nitens, Kruger.jpg
Cape starling, Lamprotornis nitens
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Sturnidae
Genus: Lamprotornis
Temminck, 1820

About 20, see text

Lamprotornis is a large genus of glossy-starlings all of which occur in Africa south of the Sahara. They have glossy blue or green upper parts, which is due to hollow melanin granules arranged in a single layer near the feather barbule's surface. This unique arrangement led to some glossy starlings formerly placed in the genus Spreo being transferred to Lamprotornis, since they shared this feature (but see also below).

The under parts of these species lack iridescence. They may be blue, purple, yellow or brown. Most Lamprotornis starlings have striking yellow or red irides and some have long tails.

These glossy starlings are found in a variety of habitats from forests to open woodland and gardens. They nest in tree holes, either natural, or made by woodpeckers or barbets, and some will use man-made structures. Most species are resident apart from seasonal or local movement, but Shelley's starling is migratory. Most species are gregarious outside the breeding season.

Lamprotornis glossy-starlings are omnivorous and mostly feed on the ground, although they will take fruit from trees. Some will feed on or near large mammals to find insects.


The limits of this genus require revision. For example, the black-bellied starling is sometimes placed in a separate genus Notopholia, and it (and possibly others) appears to be indeed well distinct. On the other hand, genera such as Coccycolius, Spreo and Compsarus are sometimes included in Lamprotornis.(Zuccon et al. 2006)


  • Feare, Chris & Craig, Adrian (1999): Starlings and Mynas. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-7136-3961-X
  • Zuccon, Dario; Cibois, Anne; Pasquet, Eric & Ericson, Per G.P. (2006): Nuclear and mitochondrial sequence data reveal the major lineages of starlings, mynas and related taxa. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 41(2): 333-344. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.05.007 PMID 16806992 (HTML abstract)