Red-winged Starling

Onychognathus morio

Red-winged Starling, Onychognathus morio, photo © by Michael Plagens

Building a nest in a building façade at Kerio View resort, Iten, Kenya. January 2012.

Red-winged Starling © Michael Plagens

From Wikipedia: The male of this 27–30 cm (11–12 in) long starling has mainly iridescent black plumage, with chestnut flight feathers, which are particularly noticeable in flight. The female has an ash-grey head and upper breast. The juvenile resembles the male, but is less glossy than the adults, and has brown rather than dark red eyes. This species has a number of whistled calls, but the most familiar is the contact call, cher-leeeoo. This starling may be confused with other similar starling species, such as its sister species the Pale-winged Starling. The difference between the two is that the Red-winged has rufous primaries while the Pale-winged has whitish primaries edged with orange. The Pale-winged has a bright red or orange eye, while the Red-winged's is dark, almost black. Only the female of the Red-winged has a grey head.

The range is down eastern Africa from Ethiopia to the Cape in South Africa. This species has a wide habitat tolerance. It may be found in forest, savanna, grassland, wetlands, fynbos, farmlands and commercial plantations, as well as urban centres. It is now common in many urban areas, due to the similarity between the structure of tall buildings and houses as nest sites with the cliffs of its original habitat. It may also nest in residential areas, breeding in roofs and apertures and up house eaves.

Sturnidae -- Starling Family

Books Available for Sale on ABE Books:

  • Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania by Zimmerman et al.
  • Birds of East Africa by Stevenson and Fanshawe

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 28 June 2012,
updated 21 Sept. 2016.