[Mystery bird] Superb Starling, Lamprotornis superbus (sometimes known as the “Spreo” starling because its scientific name was Spreo superbus once), endemic to thornbush and acacia country in Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, and East Africa. Photographed at London Zoo’s African Bird Safari. [I will identify this bird for you tomorrow]
Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.
Based on the fact that this bird is endemic to many parts of Africa, it has a relatively chunky body, strong feet, a long narrow bill and mostly dark plumage with a metallic sheen, we can safely say that it is a sturnid, or starling species. African starlings are often known as “glossy starlings” due to the intense sheen to their plumage, while Asian sturnids, especially the larger species, are usually referred to as mynah birds.
There are two starlings in Africa that are superficially similar and they can even be found flocking together in Kenya, at least: the extremely common Superb Starling, Lamprotornis superbus, and the much less common Hildebrandt’s Starling, L. hildebrandti. Despite their physical similarities, adults of these two species can be easily distinguished by eye color and plumage. The eye is bright red in Hildebrandt’s starlings, but is a pale creamy-white in the Superb starling; and by the presence or absence of a white breast band — even though their plumages are variable, only adult Superb starlings have this white band. So, based on what we see in the above bird, we can safely say that this is an adult Superb Starling.