(previously Lamprotornis corruscus)
The smallest of the five “glossy” starlings occurring in South Africa, with a weight of around 50g and a length of 18cm, the Black-bellied Starling is also the most melodious of the family and capable of mimicking the calls of quite a number of other bird species.
Black-bellied Starlings feed mainly on a wide variety of fruit, supplementing their diet with the occasional snail, insect or spider. They drink and bathe regularly and may congregate in large flocks, at times numbering more than a hundred, during the non-breeding season but are found in monogamous, solitary pairs during the breeding season. They nest in holes in trees during the summer months, with the female being solely responsible for incubating the clutch of 2-4 eggs, though the male does do his fair share when it comes to the feeding of the hatchlings.
Its distribution being reflective of its preference for dense, high-rainfall coastal and riverine forest habitats, the Black-bellied Starling occurs along our eastern coastline, from the Garden Route through to the border with Mozambique, extending marginally into the extreme south-east corner of Mpumalanga. Beyond our borders its distribution extends along Africa’s Indian Ocean coast as far north as Somalia. Throughout this range it is very rarely found more than 100km inland. The IUCN lists the Black-bellied Starling as being of least concern.