Cape Starling: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

There are lots of cool cape glossy starling facts about this beautiful iridescent bird

The Cape starling (scientifically known as Lamprotornis nitens)  is a beautiful iridescent blue-green bird found in Southern Africa. Also known as a red-shouldered glossy starling and Cape glossy starling, this bird is a species of starling in the Sturnidae family. Living in open woodland, bushveld, and the suburbs, it's known for its colorful plumage, noisy flight call, and its sociability with other birds. They are a gregarious bird, that moves in large flocks during the non-breeding season. They are known to form significantly large, majestic, and breathtaking flight paths and formations. There are two subspecies of this bird, one native to the Eastern Cape in South Africa and the other found widely spread across southern Africa.

Cape Starling

Fact File

What do they prey on?


What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

3.5 ounces

How long are they?


How tall are they?


What do they look like?


Skin Type


What are their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Woodlands, Scrublands, Urban Areas


Southern Africa





Scientific Name

Lamprotornis nitens





Cape Starling Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Cape Starling?

The Cape glossy starling is a bird.

What class of animal does a Cape Starling belong to?

The Cape starling, also known as the Cape glossy starling, is a bird that is part of the Aves class.

How many Cape Starlings are there in the world?

Although starlings are dispersed throughout the world, this particular species of starling is endemic to Southern Africa. Specifically, they can be found in Angola, Botswana, the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Where does a Cape Starling live?

Although the Cape glossy starling can be found in trees, it prefers open woodlands, plantations, bushveld, rough grasslands, and gardens. They are often found in the Kalahari Desert where isolated trees are widely dispersed. Lately, these birds have become more abundant in towns and suburbs where they are able to take advantage of discarded scraps and bird feeders found in gardens.

What is a Cape Starling's habitat?

The Cape glossy starling's habitat is woodlands, bushveld, and the suburbs. As it primarily feeds on the ground, this habitat hosts its diet which includes fruit, insects, and nectar.

Who do Cape Starlings live with?

Cape glossy starlings, like other species of starlings, are very sociable and will be seen with many other birds during the non-breeding season. Rarely alone, pairs and small groups of these starlings usually occupy high-altitude grass and dry habitats. During the non-breeding season, Cape glossy starlings can be found in flocks of up to 50 birds. They are known for their large and intimidating flight formations.

How long does a Cape Starling live?

In human care, a Cape glossy starling usually lives around 17 years. It is not known how long they live in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season for Cape glossy starlings usually occurs between October and February. They will make nests in tree holes, abandoned nests, or make-shift ones in similar man-made structures. These birds are known to often occupy the same nests with their mating partner in consecutive breeding cycles. The female starling will incubate a clutch of up to six eggs, with the mating pair having several starlings assist in the forage and feeding of their young.

What is their conservation status?

With a common and stable population throughout Southern Africa, they are considered of Least Concern by the IUCN.

Cape Starling Fun Facts

What do Cape Starlings look like?

Cape glossy starlings can be found perched in the treetops where it collects fruit

The Cape glossy starling is a beautiful iridescent blue-green bird. Like other species of starlings, they are small-to-medium in size with adult starlings measuring 10 inches and weighing around 3.5 ounces. Although the upper feathers of their body are green-blue, their head is primarily blue.  

How cute are they?

The Cape glossy starling is more beautiful than cute. Its exotic and colorful plumage includes iridescent glossy blue-green feathers along with its bright round orange eyes. Unlike other species of starlings, they have a very uniform appearance with the placement of green and blue on their bodies.

How do they communicate?

Like other species of starlings, the Cape glossy starling communicates through sounds and song. Whistles, soft rattles, and the ability to mimic sounds and other bird calls make them easily identifiable in environments.

How big is a Cape Starling?

An adult Cape glossy starling is 10 inches long and weighs around 3.5 ounces, similar to other small to medium species of starling. By comparison to other birds, they are five times the size of a hummingbird, the smallest bird on Earth, and half the weight of a golden-headed quetzal, found in South America. Cape starlings are most similar in size and weight to a blue jay, found in North America.

How fast can a Cape Starling fly?

Like other species of starlings, the Cape glossy starling has a very strong and direct flight. Outside of their breeding season, they will form large flocks with other starlings as well as other birds.

How much does a Cape Starling weigh?

A Cape glossy starling weighs around 3.5 ounces (100g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female Cape starlings do not have separate names.

What would you call a baby Cape Starling?

Baby Cape glossy starlings are called chicks.

What do they eat?

Cape glossy starling usually feeds on the ground and collects fruit from trees. Their diet consists of fruits, insects, and nectar. Occasionally, they will feed off ectoparasites found on the backs of animals and other small invertebrates.

These birds are known to be prey to the peregrine falcon and the Wahlberg's eagle.

Are they dangerous?

Cape glossy starlings are not dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

In theory, Cape glossy starlings would make great pets. However, they are very active and social birds, and would much prefer to roam free with their large flocks in their preferred habitat of open woodland.

Did you know...

Unlike other species of starlings, Cape glossy starlings have a more uniform appearance. Although starlings are known to mimic a range of sounds, there are unique sounds from this bird. The Cape glossy starling call includes a 'karrr' alarm sound and a rolling 'turrreaau' flight call.

What do starlings symbolize?

Starling symbolism encompasses a range of different ideas and meanings. As spirit animals, it is believed that starlings represent the great value of relationships and communication. Their majestic and intimidating flight formations are both breathtaking and fascinating, it remains a mystery how such a large volume of starlings can flock without colliding.

Problems with starling birds

Starlings have been known to be destructive to native wildlife and farm crops. These negative impacts can be clearly seen in the behaviors of the European starling (or common starling), another bird in the Lamprotornis genus. Their nesting patterns have been particularly damaging as they have pushed out bluebirds, owls, woodpeckers, and other cavity nesters from their natural habitats. More considerable damage has been caused by their migration and movement in large flocks which has caused significant damage to crops. Their waste also contains several diseases, many of which are transferable to livestock. For these reasons, they are highly disliked amongst farmers, who have put in considerable measures to ensure their trees, fruit, farmland, and livestock are protected.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including sparrowhawk facts, or European starling facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable starling coloring pages.



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