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Spreo bicolor (Pied starling) 

Witgatspreeu [Afrikaans]; Igiwu-giwu, Igiyo-giyo [Xhosa]; iGwayigwayi, iKhwikhwi, iNgwangwa [Zulu]; Leholi (generic term for starlings) [South Sotho]; Tweekleurige glansspreeuw [Dutch]; Spréo bicolore [French]; Zweifarbenstar [German]; Estorninho-de-ventre-branco [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Sturnidae

Spreo bicolor (Pied starling) Spreo bicolor (Pied starling) 

Pied starling, De Hoop Nature Reserve, Western Cape. [photo Duncan Robertson ©]

Pied starling, West Coast Fossil Park, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ©]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, generally preferring open habitats with lots of grass, such as cultivated areas, grassland and rural settlements, but generally avoiding larger cities and towns.

Distribution of Pied starling in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as prey of the following birds:

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the following birds:


It mainly eats arthropods, supplemented with seeds, fruit and nectar, doing most of its foraging on the ground. It often associates with livestock, catching the prey they disturb and removing ticks from their skin. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous, usually colonial cooperative breeder, nesting either solitarily or in colonies ranging from a few pairs to several thousand individuals. The breeding pair are typically assisted by up to 7 helpers, who are either immature or unmated adults, often becoming the mate of a bird previously assisted in an earlier breeding season.
  • Egg-laying season is year-round, peaking from August-January.
  • It lays 2-6 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 14-16 days.
  • The chicks are fed by parents and helpers, leaving the nest after about 23-27 days; helpers continue to feed them for about a week more before they become independent.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.