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Emerald Starling Coccycolius iris

This species has been retained as Data Deficient because although it appears to be traded in fairly large numbers, which does give cause for concern, there is still a lack of knowledge on its ecology, movements and population size, hampering an accurate assessment of its status.

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
Coccycolius iris 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 savannah 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).

Population justification
The population size of this species has not been quantified, but it is described as locally common.

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). It avoids forests but is occasionally found at the edge of gallery forest (Wilkinson in press). 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.£50 per pair. This relatively low price implies a large volume of the species are in trade, and the effects of this on the wild population have not yet been assessed (R. Wilkinson in litt. 1998).

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known. Conservation Actions Proposed
Determine this species 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Coccycolius iris. Downloaded from on 10/10/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 10/10/2015.

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 Data Deficient
Family Sturnidae (Starlings)
Species name author Oustalet, 1879
Population size Unknown 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