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Emerald Starling Coccycolius iris

Results of a new study suggest that this species has a very large range and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion. The estimated population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criteria. The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification and trapping on population sizes, but rapid declines are probably unlikely. This species is therefore classified as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Distribution and population
This species is known from west and south-east Guinea, Sierra Leone and west-central Côte d'Ivoire. In 1970, it was described as having a localised distribution, but being quite common where it occurred (Hall and Moreau 1970);  in Sierra Leone, non-breeding flocks of up to 50 birds are sometimes recorded (Wilkinson in press). It is now considered localised and generally scarce (Butchart 2007). Recent reports have included flocks of up to 100 at Mt Sangbé National Park, Côte d'Ivoire, in spring 2001 (Demey 2001) and June 2002 (Demey 2003); a single bird plus a flock of 10 in wooded savanna at two sites in Pic de Fon Forest Reserve, Guinea, in November and December 2002 (Demey and Rainey 2004), and several records from Sierra Leone including a flock at Bumbuna in 2005, and another two flocks on the Bumbuna-Magbuaka road in 2006 (Butchart 2007). Surveys in Sierra Leone in 2012 and 2013 recorded the species in Bumbuna, Kabala, Outamba and Kilimi (Fisher et al. 2013). It is thought that the species's range is smaller in the west but potentially more extensive in the east than was previously known with a potential distribution of 78,500 km2 to 121,500 km2 depending on the threshold used by the model to determine suitable habitat (G. Buchanan in prep.).

Population justification
It is described as locally common. Based on the predicted distribution and population density the total population has been estimated at 623,295, or more conservatively, 402,705 individuals (G. Buchanan in prep.). Placed in the band 100,000-499,999 individuals.

Trend justification
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes.

It is found in orchard bush and wooded and open savanna, where it keeps to the tops of tall trees, often using dead trees for perches (Hall and Moreau 1970, P. Robertson verbally 1998, Wilkinson in press). A recent survey in Sierra Leone found that the species used kola nut trees Cola spp., kapok trees Ceiba pentandra, locust trees Parkia biglobosa and red ironwood Lophira alata (Fisher et al. 2013). It avoids forests but is occasionally found at the edge of gallery forest (Wilkinson in press) and in a mosaic of habitats including savannah woodland, shrubland and agricultural land (Fisher et al. 2013). It frequently feeds on fruit, particularly Ficus and Harungana berries and seeds and, less frequently, on insects, particularly ants, foraging in bare ground in areas that have been burnt (Hall and Moreau 1970, Wilkinson in press).

There are reports of this species being caught for the wild bird trade: from 1981-1984 large numbers, probably from Guinea, were kept by bird traders in Monrovia, Liberia (Gatter 1997), and birds have been reported to trade at c.

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
None is known.

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Determine this species's tolerance to forest degradation. Assess the numbers of birds in trade. Initiate a year long study at a single site to learn patterns of seasonal movement and abundance. Protect suitable habitat if appropriate.

Bowler, J., Hunter, J. and Sesay, J. 2013. Surveys of Emerald Starling Lamprotornis iris in Sierra Leone. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 20(1): 31-38.

Buchanan, G. in prep. Re-assessing the Red-List status of the Data-Deficient Emerald starling Coccycolius iris. RSPB report.

Butchart, S. H. M. 2007. Emerald (Iris Glossy) Starling Coccycolius iris. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 14(2): 148.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Demey, R. 2003. Recent reports. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 10(2): 129-141.

Demey, R.; Rainey, H.J. 2005. A rapid survey of the birds of Haute Dodo and Cavally classified forests. In: Alonso, L.E.; Lauginie, F.; Rondeau, G. (ed.), A biological assessment of two classified forests in South-western Côte d'Ivoire, pp. 84-90. Conservation International, Washington, DC.

Demey, W. R. J.; Louette, M. 2001. Democratic Republic of Congo. In: Fishpool, L.D.C.; Evans, M.I. (ed.), Important Bird Areas in Africa and associated islands: Priority sites for conservation, pp. 199-218. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife International Conservation Series No.11), Newbury and Cambridge, UK.

Fisher, G., Buchanan, G., Orr-Ewing, D., Ward-Francis, A., Monde, S., Bae Sesay, P. and Bae Sesay, M. 2013. Discovering the lost jewels of Sierra Leone: In search of the Emerald starlings. Unpublished report.

Gatter, W. 1997. Birds of Liberia. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

Hall, B. P.; Moreau, R. E. 1970. An atlas of speciation in African passerine birds. British Museum (Natural History), London.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Butchart, S., Khwaja, N., Mahood, S., Shutes, S. & Ashpole, J

Dowsett, R., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Rainey, H. & Wilkinson, R.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Coccycolius iris. Downloaded from on 27/11/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/11/2015.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Emerald starling (Coccycolius iris) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Sturnidae (Starlings)
Species name author Oustalet, 1879
Population size U mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 142,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change