Backyard BirdsUncategorized

Abbott’s Starlings



The Abbott’s Starlings (Cinnyricinclus femoralis) occur naturally in the African countries of Kenya and Tanzania; where they only occur in a few montane forest localities and are generally rare. This small starling is classified as “Vulnerable” to extinction due to loss of its natural forest habitat.

Distribution / Range

In Kenya, they are found on Mount Kenya, where they are scarce, and Kikuyu Escarpment Forest in the southern Aberdare Mountains, where they are more common. Previously, they have been observed in the Chyulu Hills, but there have been no recent records of them at that locality. There are some recent records of them in Taita Hills – a mountain range in southwestern of Kenya, which suggests substantial movements.

In Tanzania, they mostly occur in the northern parts. The Abbott’s Starlings were historically quite common on Mount Kilimanjaro where they occurred above 6,000 feet (~1,800 m). However, they are now likely to be scarce. Rare records of them also exist on Mount Meru and Kindoroko Forest Reserve in the North Pare Mountains.

They typically nest in tree cavities.


The Abbott’s Starling measure about 6.3 – 7.1 inches (16 – 18 cm) in length – including the tail. The head and the chest are black. The plumage below is white. They have bright orange eyes.

Similar Species:

They resemble the Magpie Starling, which mostly occurs in much drier woodland, and can be identified by the white wing patches.

Calls / Vocalizations

Its song is described as a musical, whistled call, ranging up and down the scale; and its call is short and high-pitched.

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson

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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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