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Violet-backed Starling

Cinnyricinclus leucogaster


The male of this starling is a spectacularly coloured, even though the pictures rarely reveal properly the beauty of its colours. The first two pics give a glimpse of them - look for the reflected colour on the neck on the first pic, and the tail colour on the second. Pictures 3 and 4 show the bird in plain light, while the pics 5 and 6 depict the bird from a slightly different angle and partially shadowed. This is the same individual in all six pictures. In fact, the male's whole upperparts are iridescent violet, reflecting light to the point that the same bird can look pure glossy violet up to black according to the angle the picture was taken. Underparts are all white. Moreover, the sexual dimorphism is very pronounced in this species, and the female (not captured today) presents more earthy colours, grey-brown above and heavily stripped below.


This is a common sub-Saharan starling found in open woodland and savannah. Here, seen in Kunene region of Namibia (northwest), around Sesfontein town, in arid open acacia tree-and-shrub landscape, very dry (but still magnificent and rich in wildlife) at the moment, following a three-year dry-spell. This one was observed around a water point, much greener than the rest of the area.

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Zlatan Celebic
Spotted by
Zlatan Celebic

Kunene Region, Namibia

Spotted on Mar 14, 2020
Submitted on Mar 14, 2020

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