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Violet-backed Starling

Violet-backed Starling
Photo Information
Copyright: Anna Eksteen (Miss_Piggy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2285 W: 5 N: 5300] (18714)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-10-18
Categories: Birds
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC H9, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 15x Optical zoom, Digital ISO 400
Exposure: f/4.5, 1/50 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Travelogue: Kruger NP 2009
Theme(s): Starlings, Kruger National Park 2, Birds of South Africa 3, Birds of Africa I, My Purple Obsession 4 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2010-01-13 16:56
Viewed: 10749
Points: 108
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Violet-backed Starling / Cinnyricinclus leucogaster

The Violet-backed Starling is the 3rd in the series of the birds of the Kruger National Park, which I am currently sharing. Enjoy!

This bird was photographed in one of the large trees just inside the gate of the Letaba camp. We were on our way for an afternoon drive when we saw a lady standing, taking photographs from her vehicle's sunroof. At that moment we did not know what she was photographing but what caught my attention was her bush of thick blond hair, suntanned body and the enormous camera lens she was pointing at the tree, taking photos like crazy. It felt to me as if I was watching a movie being filmed. Her husband was driving, and he went forward and backward, left and right, as she kept giving instructions while shooting away. (Actually it sounds a little bit like Loot and me, but I will never acknowledge that to him, so let's keep it a secret.) I could not believe my eyes when I saw what she was photographing so frantically. It was the very beautiful African Green Pigeon's (which I'll share at a later stage). Obviously, both Loot and I also started to shoot away at the pigeons. The next moment this little Violet-backed Starling appeared in the tree. Boy, I am sure I don't have to tell you how thrilled I was having the opportunity to photograph a "purple bird" and I loved every moment of it.

On the same day I photographed this image, Loot and I met Marius and Natley Prinsloo. Two lovely and kind hearted people. Natley spoiled me with a pretty purple gift bag filled with lots of goodies as it was my birthday just the week before. That evening we had supper together at the Letaba restaurant and chatted the night away. Natley has also recently joined as member and is known as (Mamagolo2). Please check out some of her images, especially of lion and elephant behaviour as well as other interesting facts about elephants.

The Violet-backed Starling is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Sturnidae family which includes birds such as Starlings, Mynans and Oxpeckers. According to the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology it is also known by these other names: Amethyst Starling or Violet Starling. At first it was called the Plum-coloured Starling. It is neither endemic or near endemic to the Kruger National Park. It is however a common summer visitor. It is a small bird about the size of a house sparrow. The height of the Violet-backed Starling is about 18cm and its weight is about 45 grams. The male has physical features that are different from the female bird. The head is coloured purple, while the bill is black. It has a purple throat, black legs and purple coloured back. The eyes are brown. You may see these birds only in certain parts of the Park.

Feeding Habits
This bird forages for food on the ground. It attacks its prey aerially and feeds on wing or takes the prey to a secluded venue where it is killed, torn into small pieces and eaten. This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants.

Breeding Habitat and Nesting Habits
The Violet-backed Starling is monogamous unless its mate dies. In the event of a partner dying it will seek out a new mate. The nesting habit of these birds is to create the nest in the branches of a tree or shrub where it is protected from predators by branches and dense green foliage. The bird lays eggs which are red in colour and number between 2 -4. The preferred habitats for them are: woodlands and grasslands and riverine areas. It is also at home in wetland and close to water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams as well as bushveld areas. You will normally see these birds in pairs or flocks and not as single birds.

Names of this avian species in other languages
Afrikaans ... Witborsspreeu
German ... Amethystglanzstar
Portuguese ... Estorinho-de-dorso-violeta
French ... Spro amthyste
Dutch ... Amethistspreeuw


I hope you enjoyed looking at this photo as much as I took pleasure in taking it.

manyee, rousettus, Chiza, ramthakur, Luis52, eng55, shree, siggi, fthsm, nasokoun, Mikolaj, alin-m, anemone, sranjan, horias, PeterZ, Hussain58, oanaotilia, zulfu, boreocypriensis, Mamagolo2, JoseMiguel, jlinaresp, jaycee, Noisette, Maged, maurydv, CeltickRanger, xTauruSx, nglen, tuslaw, roges, chrisruth, Argus, uleko, erve, Amelia, Bass, LiBuMa has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Hussain58: ThanksMiss_Piggy 2 01-16 06:18
To shree: ThanksMiss_Piggy 1 01-16 06:01
To CeltickRanger: BackgroundMiss_Piggy 1 01-15 19:52
To JoseMiguel: ThanksMiss_Piggy 1 01-15 19:45
To Wolfpower: ThanksMiss_Piggy 1 01-15 19:39
To jignasi: GraciasMiss_Piggy 1 01-15 19:36
To PeterZ: African Green PigeonMiss_Piggy 1 01-15 19:26
To sranjan: Violet-backed StarlingMiss_Piggy 1 01-14 04:17
To alin-m: Beautiful birdMiss_Piggy 1 01-14 01:24
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2010-01-13 17:38]

Hi Anna,
That is an unbelievable bird!
The wonders of nature never cease.
I can imagine your excitement to photograph this beautiful and VERY unusual bird,
not to mention that he happens to sport your favorite color!
You certainly got a good shot of him, full body in plain view in the foliage.
He acts like he knows he is beautiful, the way he tilts his head just a certain way.
I still cannot get over the color on this bird. Very aptly-named!
TFS. : )

  • Great 
  • Chiza Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 133 W: 0 N: 474] (5351)
  • [2010-01-13 18:12]

Hola Anna: Una especie totalmente desconocida para mi; que color más exótico y que belleza de ejemplar. Muy buena información además...saludos.

Your notes written from the heart bring your pictures alive, not that they are ever less than beautiful, Anna.
The purple on the back of this bird is gorgeous, to say the least, and it makes a stunning contrast with the white feathers on its chest. The ringed eye adds another touch of beauty to the composition.
Thanks for sharing yet another great image from your trip to Kruger Park.

Hello Anna
The Violet-backed Starling is incredible passerine bird with splendid colors. you greatly capture it, with great focus, POV, composition with natural habitat and wonderful eyes contact. exposure also nice. your notes also nice to read. Thanks so much for this beauty. I'd like to see it in nature. best wishes and good nigth

  • Great 
  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2010-01-13 18:53]

Hola Anna.
Wow. What a colorful little bird. So beautiful so little, so nice. Great super foto
Exellent and fine note to.
Congratulation for this photo. I guess it is the first I ever seen it. Many thanks for share.
I hope You are feeling better.

  • Great 
  • zetu Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 967 W: 26 N: 3888] (16941)
  • [2010-01-13 21:32]

Hello Anna
What happened with this bird? It fall in to ink-pot? :).
Amazing colors and interesting unknown bird for me.
Thanks for sharing

A first for me, I think. What a lovely photo of a very pretty bird! The colours are spot-on, the point of view perfect and the picture is pinsharp as are all your photos.
Once again, well done, Anna.

  • Great 
  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2010-01-13 22:27]

Hi Anna,
Very interesting and preety bird.Colors are amazzing.I liked POV,pose of bird and exposure a lot.Well caught and composed,excellent note as always.Have a nice day!
Thanks for posting..

Dearest Anna, I did enjoy looking at the photo and also reading the lovely note posted with it as it just doubles the joy. Your bird is very small but incredibly beautiful with such pretty contrasting colours on its body.
Am looking forward to Green Pigeon's pictures.



  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2010-01-13 23:23]

Hello Anna.
A very colorfull bird,which I never saw before,very sharp and detailed,well done and TFS,Best regards Siggi

  • Great 
  • fthsm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 172 W: 56 N: 512] (3689)
  • [2010-01-14 0:01]

I never saw or heard about such a colorful bird before. Great photo and information Anna. Really thanks for sharing.

hello Anna,
really incredible colors, you photographed this beautiful bird with vivid and very sharp output, your notes as always very interesting!
keep photographing! TFS

Hello Anna! Amazing starling. Very nice background. Good scene. Perfect light and colours. Very fine contrast and sharpness. Well done!

This bird exist indeed in our world?
Very interesting image.
Best regards.Alin.

  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2010-01-14 2:12]

Hi Anna,
such a special shot of this violet bird. I would consider it as almost purple. what a find.
Great presentation in its pose,clarity and splendid lighting.
The eye is so rounded, very pretty with
golden circle around it.
Briliant capture in such an outstanding view.


Hello Anna. What a bird! I did not see before having such violet coloured feathers.
TFS and Kind regards

Hello Anna,
My compliments to you for showing us this unique bird probably first of it's kind on TN, posted by you. Perfect colors, plumage details, luminosity & sharpness. Thanks for sharing.

Hi Anna,

What a wonderful colours in this bird, I can't say i have seen one or noticed one before.

Thanks for Sharing.

Ciao Anna, lovely bird with fantastic colors, fine details and splendid sharpness, beautiful natural ambientation, very well done, ciao Silvio

hello Anna
great sharpness pose of this beautiful colored bird
great details and the colours are so good
great shot Anna
greeting lou

  • Great 
  • horias Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 837 W: 58 N: 2084] (11033)
  • [2010-01-14 6:44]

Waw....amazing colors to this little Violet-backed Starling !
Great details and colors.

Hello Anna,
I know this bird, but I've missed it in Africa so far. Very pity, because it's so beautiful. You made a fantastic photo of it in great sharpness, attracive pose with eye contact and splendid colours. Very nice composition.
Did you have photos of the African Green Pigeon? I got some photos of this bird here on TN, but was one of the first who photographed this pigeon. They've placed my photo in a birdguide of South Africa (with my permission). So I'm very curious!
Kind regards,

Hello Anna,
Hope life will be good and it sure is, for you have such wondrous photo to display here....violet...there are fewer birds or animals of this colour in the entire world and if there are many then they can easily be counted so not that many I am sure.....seems like it is fresh out of the South African paradise. I am glad I came looking for it. It is a must-see photo and a must-comment photo. Gorgeous one such word among many with which one can label this shot. I have never seen it before. I have many field guides of South African birds and why I missed spotting this in them... perhaps my own fault. But it was a sheer pleasure to spot it here and that too from a person like you whose favourite colour is purple. The note was superb, Anna....as wonderful as your shot...thanks a lot for sharing both and such wealth of information...a great treat indeed...take care...warmest regards/Abid

Hy Anna
It is so strange! A color that I am expecting to find on flowers rather then animals. But with birds, it seems that everything is possible. Extraordinary!
Kind regards,

  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2010-01-14 10:28]

Hello Anna, fine shot of this lovely bird with excellent composition.
TFS and R's,

Hola Anna,
aún estoy dándole vueltas a tu nuevo look y no se con cual quedarme jajaja.
Broma aparte, nos presentas un trabajo excepcional por la rareza del ave, de unos soprendentes, atractivos y bien captados colores; he quedado realmente sorprendido, y es que la naturaleza siempre nos está sorprendiendo.

Un abrazo: Josep Ignasi.

Hello Anna,
This is really a stunning image. Love the purple back and white belly. after seeing your photo today I showed my future son in law your photo. He is a avid bird watcher and just laughed at my comment that I've never seen them before. According to him they are often in my garden but when they are in the shade you don't see the purple so beautifully. So now I'm on the look out for them. Very well done and thanks for sharing.
Hope you will be feeling better soon.

Hi Anna,

Brilliant capture, so eye-catching! I really like how the focus is fully on the head of this violet beauty, the ciplet feathers seems to constantly fight for my attention.
Great use of the available light, looks like the shallow DOF worked extremely well. Nicely spotted.
TFS and have a great night!


  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2010-01-14 13:43]

Hi Anna

What a stunning bird - amazing colours. Well captured with greta detail.


  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2010-01-14 14:45]

Hi Anna,i can't believe! I see a lot of strange animals in your gallery,but a purle bird is very very incredible and i never imagine that coulb be exist something like that....obviuosly will be your prefered bird...ehehhe....thanks for this very nice suprise,i hope the best for your health...Luciano

Hi Anna,
Just reading your notes is already exciting, how good are they!
Of course I can easily imagine how thrilled you must have been, as I would been too.
This is like a dream, just bright purple, incredible.
A clear first plane, with excellent pose and plenty of fine details on its plumage.
You were so lucky to be able to have this pics done, and of course I will be looking for the upcoming A. Green Pigeon post too.
My compliments and thanks for share.
Warm regards,

Hi Anna,
A bird that seems to me exotic by its coloration. A good photo, though note the efforts made by the DSC zoom and there is a slight loss of definition. But you know very well compensate for this, plus the photo shows well the characteristics of this bird.TFS.

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2010-01-14 16:17]

Hi Anna,

I can hardly believe a bird has this amazing violet color!! How beautiful and what a contrast to the lovely light plumage. A fantastic Starling which I assume can only be found in South Africa. An excellent capture with fine details, lovely pose and superb composition.


Hello Anna
I have never seen a bird with this colors, it is simply splendid !
the purple and the white feather are so contrasting
he have also a nice pose and perfect details
Have a good night

Hello Anna

I have never seen that colour plumage before.
Terrific capture.
Well placed in the frame in a natural environment.
Well done.


  • Great 
  • Maged (218)
  • [2010-01-14 23:36]

Hello Anna
In fact you show show me in your Gallery what i never saw, what a bird !! it's wonderful, perfect capture with excellent colors.
Well Done

Hello Anna,
a fantastic capture of the Violet-backed Starling taken from an excelen tPOV in a lovely pose, the unusual colours of this splendid bird are marvellous, very good sharpness, a very nice composition in a very beautiful environment.
Best regards

HI Anne

what a stunning coloured bird - if this was the 1st of April, I'm not sure I woudl have believed you only knowing the birds we have in the UK!
It almost seems at odds with its surroundings from my point of view - but we get so many little brown jobs or lbj's in the UK that something this bright and colourful is quite odd.

Great shot and wonderful notes as always.


hello Anna

beautiful photo of the Violet-backed Starling with his violet
and white colour tones, fine POV to the bird, beautiful pose
and eye-contact of the bird, fine focus sharpness and details
of its plumage, sometimes other persons does not love
when you see details of the background and busy background,
i personaly love it because like in your photo here
it is showing the habitat of the bird, TFS


Hello Anna, wonderful shot of this cute violet bird with nice pose and composition.
TFS and regards,

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2010-01-15 11:44]

Hi Anna. I have never seen anything like this before. So thanks for posting this one on TN.What fantastic colours which you have taken with such fine detail. Well taken and with interstig notes TFS.

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2010-01-15 20:28]

Wow!! Anna, What an incredibly beautiful bird.
I have never seen such vivid purple colors in a birds plumage before. I can only imagine the excitement you must have felt when you spotted him.
Rosie just commented from across the room at how gorgeous it is, and I must agree. She is watching Homeward Bound
with the grandkids while I'm checking out photos on TN.

unbelivable colour! TFS and greetings Ori

  • Great 
  • roges Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 957 W: 0 N: 1329] (6264)
  • [2010-01-16 3:54]

Hi Anna,
a magnificent bird.
Nice framed and play with some outstanding colors, congratulations.
What may have colored plumage! I have never seen such species, thanks for the opportunity.
Have a wonderful WE,

Hi Anna

Wonderful capture of the Violet backed Starling.
Taken from a lovely point of view with wonderfully bright colors.
Not an easy shot in with a lot of leaves and tree around and you managed it really well.

I think birds are becoming one of my favorite sightings at the moment and I really enjoy reading about them.
I was out at the Albert Falls Dam yesterday and today and saw more birds in one day than I have ever before.
Maybe I just have never paid much attention as I used to think it is 'boring' looking for birds:)
Funny how things change hey?

Anyways have a great evening and I hope you feeling much better now:>

Kind Regards

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2010-01-18 4:28]

Hello Anna,
What a superb capture of this splendid Amethyst Starling. The POV took the iridescence at ita best and your light and colour management coped well with a difficult colour to present well without over-saturation. Excellent pose, composition and sharpness add to make this a top quality image.
Thanks and have a good week,

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2010-01-18 6:57]

Hello Anna,
What a stunning beauty this is and in your favourite colour! I fully understand your excitement as you didn't only spot it but had time to get a really fine capture too! I like its pose and the beautiful details of the plumage. Well composed too and it stands out very sharply against the fine natural background.
Many thanks and regards, Ulla

  • Great 
  • waylim Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 296 W: 8 N: 489] (1765)
  • [2010-01-18 18:29]

Hi Anna,
Beautiful little and very amazing and unusual colors. I'm not good at recognizing different species of, but It seem I have seen one similar when I was in Tanzania in a different color, reddish brown or cinnamon. If I find it, I’ll post it later.
Anyway, quality is not up to you normal standard, perhaps taken from far away and some cropping. Nevertheless, it is still a very beautiful shot well worth seeing.
Thanks Anna.

Hellow Anna,
What a colourful and striking image of this starling.The violet/purple and the pure fluffy white on the underside is amazing.Well captured with pinsharpness and in its natural surrounds.
PS.I had quite a busy early morning at the bird hide yesterday.

  • Great 
  • erve Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 96 W: 3 N: 131] (620)
  • [2010-02-12 3:19]

Hi anna, just catching up with some of your work.

This is a most interesting speciman you show us here. I dont know alot about birds but i certainly havent ever seen one like this. What beautifully vivid plumage it has.

Although your cybershot has tried admirably, it is unfortunately not very sharp and looks like it has had considerable noise reduction.

Still a very worthwhile and interesting shot.


  • Great 
  • efsus Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 415 W: 11 N: 843] (3947)
  • [2010-02-17 1:08]

Merhaba Anna!
Bu renkte bir kuş olabileceğini hiç düşünmezdim. Bu gerçekten inanılmaz renkte harika bir kuş. Siz de bu güzelliği kusursuzca kaydetmişsiniz. Diğer çalışmalarınız gibi bu da oldukça sıradışı ve enfes gözüküyor. Çok geç farketmem benim için bir katıp sayılır. Paylaşımın için çok teşekkür ediyorum. Selamlar.


Hi Anna,
Nice capture of this Living jewelery in its natural environment.


Hi Anna,
What a great captured. it has got incredible colors (white and purple. And very pretty a bird. al details excellent.TFS


Hi Anna
Wow, I can't believe I missed this vibrant little beauty. I would have been so excited to see such a colourful Starling. He's nicely captured among the branches. Well done and great notes.
TFS Janice

  • Great 
  • Bass Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 173 W: 0 N: 233] (974)
  • [2012-08-19 9:05]

Hi Anna,
I opened this pic because I never saw a purple bird!!! this is amazing!!! great to see such cute creature. I guess that you have used your zoom as much as you can, but it really worth it!! This is an incredible capture, congratulations and thank you for showing this creature to all of us!
tfs, kind regards, brenda

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