Violet-backed starling

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Violet-backed starling
Violet-backed starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster verreauxi) male.jpg
Violet-backed starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster verreauxi) female.jpg
both C. l. verreauxi
Damaraland, Namibia
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Sturnidae
Genus: Cinnyricinclus
Lesson, 1840
C. leucogaster
Binomial name
Cinnyricinclus leucogaster
(Boddaert, 1783)

The violet-backed starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster), also known as the plum-coloured starling or amethyst starling, is a relatively small species (17cm) of starling in the family Sturnidae. It is the only member of the genus Cinnyricinclus. This strongly sexually dimorphic species is found widely in the woodlands and savannah forest edges of mainland sub-Saharan Africa. It is rarely seen on the ground, but instead found in trees and other sources away from the ground.


The violet-backed starling was described by the French polymath Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon in 1775 in his Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux.[2] The bird was also illustrated in a hand-coloured plate engraved by François-Nicolas Martinet in the Planches Enluminées D'Histoire Naturelle which was produced under the supervision of Edme-Louis Daubenton to accompany Buffon's text.[3] Neither the plate caption nor Buffon's description included a scientific name but in 1783 the Dutch naturalist Pieter Boddaert coined the binomial name Turdus leucogaster in his catalogue of the Planches Enluminées.[4] The type locality is Benin in West Africa.[5] The violet-backed starling is now the only species placed in the genus Cinnyricinclus that was introduced by the French naturalist René Lesson in 1840.[6][7] The violet-backed starling was designated as the type species by the English naturalist George Robert Gray in 1855.[8] The genus name is combines Cinnyris, a genus of sunbirds that had been introduced by the French naturalist Georges Cuvier in 1816, and the New Latin cinclus meaning "thrush". The specific leucogaster is from the Ancient Greek leukos meaning "white" and gastēr meaning "belly".[9]

Three subspecies are recognised:[7]

  • C. l. leucogaster (Boddaert, 1783) – Senegal and Gambia to Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania
  • C. l. arabicus Grant, CHB & Mackworth-Praed, 1942 – east Sudan to northwest Somalia and the Arabian Peninsula
  • C. l. verreauxi (Finsch & Hartlaub, 1870) – south DR Congo to west Tanzania south to Botswana, northeast South Africa and Mozambique


The violet-backed starling is a sexually dimorphic species in which the males possess an iridescent violet back while the females are brown. During breeding, the female will incubate 2-4 eggs (these are pale blue with reddish/brown spots) for 12–14 days. The male will help feed chicks until they fledge after about 21 days.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Cinnyricinclus leucogaster". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ Buffon, Georges-Louis Leclerc de (1775). "Le merle violet à ventre blanc de Juida". Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux (in French). Volume 6. Paris: De L'Imprimerie Royale. pp. 104–105.
  3. ^ Buffon, Georges-Louis Leclerc de; Martinet, François-Nicolas; Daubenton, Edme-Louis; Daubenton, Louis-Jean-Marie (1765–1783). "Merle violet à ventre blanc, de Juida". Planches Enluminées D'Histoire Naturelle. Volume 7. Paris: De L'Imprimerie Royale. Plate 648 Fig. 1.
  4. ^ Boddaert, Pieter (1783). Table des planches enluminéez d'histoire naturelle de M. D'Aubenton : avec les denominations de M.M. de Buffon, Brisson, Edwards, Linnaeus et Latham, precedé d'une notice des principaux ouvrages zoologiques enluminés (in French). Utrecht. p. 39, Number 648 Fig. 1.
  5. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Greenway, James C. Jr, eds. (1962). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 15. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 98.
  6. ^ Lesson, René (1840). "Notices ornithologiques". Revue Zoologique. 3: 261–275 [272].
  7. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2019). "Nuthatches, Wallcreeper, treecreepers, mockingbirds, starlings, oxpeckers". IOC World Bird List Version 9.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  8. ^ Gray, George Robert (1855). Catalogue of the Genera and Subgenera of Birds Contained in the British Museum. London: British Museum. p. 66.
  9. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 108, 223. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.

External links[edit]