Golden-breasted Starling

(Cosmopsarus regius)


The Golden-breasted Starling, also known as Royal Starling, is one of some 500 bird species known to use a cooperative breeding strategy. This means they live in extended family groups of up to a dozen birds which work together to provide food and protection for young of a single dominant breeding pair within the group.

This species belongs to a group of species collectively known as African glossy-starlings.  All of the species in this group have striking, often iridescent colors and bold patterns.  Native to savannas and thorn-scrub habitats in eastern African, golden-breasted starlings live in noisy family groups of up to a dozen birds. 



Southern and eastern Ethiopia, Somalia, eastern Kenya and northeastern Tanzania


Dry bush and savanna in arid and semi-arid regions; generally below 1000 m


Diet consists primarily of insects, especially termites, which flocks of these birds will cooperatively excavate from their mounds; also some fruit.


Cooperative breeder, with up to nine adults attending some nests. Nests in a tree hole, either natural cavity or an old hole made by a barbet or woodpecker, 3–7 m above ground, lined with leaves, moss, feathers, and other soft materials. Clutch is 3–4 pale greenish-blue eggs with fine reddish-brown speckles; incubation is entirely by the female, who is fed at the nest by her mate and the helpers. Incubation period is about two weeks, with young fed by both parents and by helpers; young fledge after c. three weeks.


Not Under Threat (Least Concern)

At the Aviary

See Golden-breasted Starlings in the Tropical Rainforest.