Birds of Uganda – Red-Winged Starling

Due to it’s equatorial location & abundant fresh water, the sheer density of wildlife in Uganda can make your head spin. There are (well) over 1000 confirmed bird species found in the country alone. And what birds, some of them look like runway models! We are so excited about this fun series on birds. Last week we looked at the lovely Violet-backed Starling & today we will meet another handsome member of the starling family, the Red-winged Starling.
Standing black bird with a red wing

Image of male Red-wing Starling from PHParsons under CC 3.0

Birds of Fashion

As with many of the starlings, the males are more impressive visually than the females (sorry ladies), however in the Red-wings the difference isn’t as marked as in some of the others. Both males & females have beautiful glossy blue-black feathers, however only the males display the bright chestnut flight feathers that gives them their name (Onychognathus morio).

Black bird among yellow flowers

Image of male Red-wing Starling from Alandmanson under CC 4.0

Brave Warriors

During the day they can be found in small flocks or pairs, but at night the Red-wings gather at a communal roost (sometimes up to hundreds of birds) in tall trees, on cliff-sides or tall buildings. This is another monogamous starling & pairings may last for several breeding seasons. During the breeding season they can become quite aggressive in defense of their nests & will attack anything (even humans) that come too close.

Black & grey bird

Image of female Red-wing Starling from Dick Daniels under CC 3.0

Red-Wing Lifestyle

Red-wing starlings are omnivorous birds, meaning they eat fruit (especially bright colored fruit) & in their case almost anything else they can get their hands on (they are extremely opportunistic eaters). That includes, seeds, nectar, lizards, crabs & insects as well as its symbiotic relationship with numerous large mammals for the removal of ticks & other parasites. In fact, they can be known as pests as they are also scavengers & can do damage to crops.

The Red-wing prefers to live in mountainous rocky areas with access to food on nearby vegetated slopes & valleys. They can be found in Africa from Cape Province to Ethiopia.

Black bird in a tree

Image of male Red-wing Starling from Dick Daniels under CC 3.0

More Birdwatching

We are excited to embark on this fun new series of posts & can’t wait to share more about the amazing bird species that make up the diverse wildlife of Uganda. Stay tuned for more to come & in the meantime, perhaps you should come visit Uganda & meet some of them for yourself!

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