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Superb Starling

Starling, Superb

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Description

A small, short-tailed starling, the Superb Starling has a distinctive feather pattern. The back, rump, wings, tail, neck and chest are a glossy blue-green. A narrow white band separates the chest from the chestnut brown belly and thighs. The head is a bronzy black. Undertail and underwings are white, as is the iris of the eyes. Bill and legs are black. Juveniles are a duller color. Both sexes are alike. The notches in the wing feathers cause the wings to make a loud swooshing sound when the birds fly.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Passeriformes
Family
Sturnidae
Genus
Lamprotornis
Species
L. superbus
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Weight
52-77 g (1.8-2.6 ounces)
Height
18 cm (7 inches)

Social Life
Superb Starlings are very gregarious; they hunt in small flocks and are often associated with other foragers such as Rufous-Tailed and Red-Billed Weavers. Superb Starlings are not migratory. 

Habitat and Range
Superb Starlings are found in open woodland, lakeshore woodlands and cultivated areas around human habitation up to 3000 m (1.8 miles) in the Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya south to Tanzania.

Diet
Chiefly insects such as grasshoppers, beetles and termites. Will also eat flowers, small berries and fruits. Superb Starlings run and hop on the ground to get food, and they are not shy about scavenging around picnic sites and human settlements.

Lifespan
About 15 years.

Predators
Snakes, baboons and birds of prey.

Reproduction
Nesting takes place in all months and is primarily influenced by environmental conditions. These Starlings are mainly monogamous, but since they are cooperative nesters, the females will sometimes mate with other non-related males when helpers are few. Typically, the helpers are young male offspring from previous broods; they help with nest building and feeding the chicks.

Nests are large domed structures made from twigs and lined with grass, usually in a thorn tree or a hole in a cliff. The nests are well protected and have a side entrance. Females lay 4 dark-blue eggs and they incubate the chicks for 12-14 days. Parents and helpers feed the chicks before they fledge at 17-25 days and continue to do so for another 4-7 weeks. Despite this help, breeding success is low, with most losses due to predation.

Information

Description

A small, short-tailed starling, the Superb Starling has a distinctive feather pattern. The back, rump, wings, tail, neck and chest are a glossy blue-green. A narrow white band separates the chest from the chestnut brown belly and thighs. The head is a bronzy black. Undertail and underwings are white, as is the iris of the eyes. Bill and legs are black. Juveniles are a duller color. Both sexes are alike. The notches in the wing feathers cause the wings to make a loud swooshing sound when the birds fly.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Passeriformes
Family
Sturnidae
Genus
Lamprotornis
Species
L. superbus
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Weight
52-77 g (1.8-2.6 ounces)
Height
18 cm (7 inches)

Social Life
Superb Starlings are very gregarious; they hunt in small flocks and are often associated with other foragers such as Rufous-Tailed and Red-Billed Weavers. Superb Starlings are not migratory. 

Habitat and Range
Superb Starlings are found in open woodland, lakeshore woodlands and cultivated areas around human habitation up to 3000 m (1.8 miles) in the Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya south to Tanzania.

Diet
Chiefly insects such as grasshoppers, beetles and termites. Will also eat flowers, small berries and fruits. Superb Starlings run and hop on the ground to get food, and they are not shy about scavenging around picnic sites and human settlements.

Lifespan
About 15 years.

Predators
Snakes, baboons and birds of prey.

Reproduction
Nesting takes place in all months and is primarily influenced by environmental conditions. These Starlings are mainly monogamous, but since they are cooperative nesters, the females will sometimes mate with other non-related males when helpers are few. Typically, the helpers are young male offspring from previous broods; they help with nest building and feeding the chicks.

Nests are large domed structures made from twigs and lined with grass, usually in a thorn tree or a hole in a cliff. The nests are well protected and have a side entrance. Females lay 4 dark-blue eggs and they incubate the chicks for 12-14 days. Parents and helpers feed the chicks before they fledge at 17-25 days and continue to do so for another 4-7 weeks. Despite this help, breeding success is low, with most losses due to predation.