Backyard Birds

Greater Blue-eared Glossy-starlings or Greater Blue-eared Starlings

The Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starlings (Lamprotornis chalybaeus) – also commonly referred to as Greater Blue-eared Starlings or Green Glossy Starlings – are common African starlings.

They often form large flocks with other starlings.

Distribution / Range

The Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starlings occur from Senegal east to Ethiopia, and south through eastern Africa to northeastern South Africa and Angola.

They are native to the following countries:

Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegambia (Senegal and Gambia), Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

They are usually found in open woodland and are mostly resident, except for some seasonal movements.

Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling

Recognized Subspecies and Ranges

  • Lamprotornis chalybaeus chalybaeus (Hemprich and Ehrenberg, 1828) – Nominate Form
    • Range: Southern Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, southern Mali, Burkina Faso, southern Niger and northern Nigeria east to central Sudan. During the dry season, they may visit the northern Ivory Coast, Togo, and Benin.
  • Lamprotornis chalybaeus nordmanni (E. J. O. Hartert and Neumann, 1914)
    • Range: Southern Angola and northern Namibia east to northern and eastern Botswana, southern Zambia, Zimbabwe, northeastern South Africa and southern Mozambique.
  • Lamprotornis chalybaeus cyaniventris (Blyth, 1855)
    • Range: Eritrea, Ethiopia, northwestern Somalia, northern Uganda, eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and northern Kenya.
  • Lamprotornis chalybaeus sycobius (Hartlaub, 1859)
    • Range: Southern Race. Occur naturally in southwestern Uganda, southern Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, southeastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, northern and eastern Zambia, Malawi, and western Mozambique.
    • ID: Smaller in size than northern birds.
African Starling (Glossy Blue-eared) in Arizona

Greater Blue-eared Glossy-Starling


The Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling measures about 22 cm in length, including its short tail.

The plumage is glossy blue-green with a purple-blue abdomen and blue ear patches. The eyes range from bright yellow to orange.

Males and females look alike.

Juveniles have a duller plumage; below they are blackish brown.

Similar Species:

The Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling resembles the related Lesser Blue-eared Glossy Starling; except in the latter, the blue coloration of the abdomen does not extend forward of the legs; and the Lesser Blue-eared Glossy Starling has orangey eyes, compared to the yellow-eyed Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling.

Calls / Vocalizations

The Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling’s calls are described as musical or grating, including the familiar nasal squee-ar.


The Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling typically nest in tree cavities or in abandoned nests of woodpeckers or barbets. On occasion, they have nested inside the large stick nests of the Sacred Ibis or Abdim’s Stork.

The average clutch consists of 3 – 5 eggs that are greenish-blue in color with some brown or purple spots. The eggs are incubated for about 13 – 14 days to hatching.

The nestlings fledge (leave the nest) when they are about 23 days old.

Diet / Feeding

The Greater Blue-eared Glossy starlings feed on a wide range of invertebrates fruits, seeds, and berries, especially figs.

They also take insects from the ground, or they will perch on livestock / large mammals to feed on insects disturbed by the animals and occasionally remove ectoparasites (organisms that live on the skin).

Alternate (Global) Names

Afrikaans: Groot-blouoorglansspreeu … Catalan: Estornell metàl·lic gran d’orelles blaves, Estornell metàl·lic gran d’orelles blaves … Chinese: ????? … Czech: Leskoptev kovová … Danish: Blåøret Glansstær … Dutch: Groenstaartglansspreeuw, Groenstaart-glansspreeuw … Finnish: kyläloistokottarainen, Puistokottarainen … French: Choucador à oreillons bleus, Étourneau métallique commun, Merle bronzé vert, Merle métallique à oreillons bleus, Merle métallique commun … German: Grünschwanz-Glanzstar … Italian: Storno splendente guanceblu maggiore, Storno splendido blu maggiore … Japanese: seikimukudori … Kwangali: Ndjundju … Norwegian: Blåøreglansstær … Polish: blyszczak stalowy, b?yszczak stalowy … Portuguese: Estorninho-grande-d’orelha-azul … Russian: ????????????? ???????, ???????? ????????? ??????? … Slovak: Ékorec kovový, liskavec kovový … Shona: Hwirikwiri …Spanish: Estornino Brillante de Orejas Azules Grande, Estornino Orejiazul …Swedish: Blåkindad glansstare … Swahili: Kuzi Macho-njano … Tswana: Legôdi … Tsonga: Kwezu leri tsongo


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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